Baltimore's top cop headed back to school

Bealefeld has a high school diploma, will enroll at UMUC

  • Baltimore Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld
Baltimore Police Commissioner Fred Bealefeld (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun )
December 17, 2010|By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore's top cop is adding another obligation to his busy schedule next month: part-time student.

Speaking at a ceremony Friday for a group of officers enrolled in a leadership certificate program at the University of Maryland University College, Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III disclosed that he would soon be going back to school himself.

Bealefeld has a high school diploma. He dropped out of Anne Arundel Community College to join the police academy after suffering a sports injury that dashed his hopes of earning an athletic scholarship.

"It's something he's always wanted to do," police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said.

Guglielmi said Bealefeld will pursue a degree in criminal justice at UMUC. Bealefeld did not return an e-mail message seeking clarification on his plans.

A survey by Police Chief Magazine in 2004 showed that 89 percent of police chiefs across the country held at least a four-year degree, and more than half had a master's or law degree.

Despite his lack of a college diploma, Bealefeld has overseen steep drops in crime — Baltimore homicides are at a 25-year low — and led the department though one of its most stable periods.

Bealefeld's contract calls for the city to reimburse him for "those expenses he first incurs for conferences, continuing education programs, law enforcement institutes and similar seminars which Mr. Bealefeld deems are necessary for both his professional development and for the good of the Police Department and/or the City."

Tuition reimbursement programs for city police officers were stripped out in the last budget, and Guglielmi said he did not think Bealefeld would seek reimbursement.

When Bealefeld joined the Police Department as a cadet, he said in an interview last year, he planned to get a law degree and attended classes for a time at the University of Baltimore.

"I liked school well enough, but once I got in the police academy, there was no turning back," he said. "I just wanted to stay on the street."

Bealefeld's regret about not pursuing a degree led him to help develop training and development programs for officers. He approached UMUC administrators and helped develop a leadership certificate program for up-and-coming commanders, which graduated its third class of 20 students Friday.

The program, which is taught at the school's Elkridge location, asks officers to complete projects that will benefit the department. Many of the participants have been appointed to command-level positions since taking part. They include Dennis Smith, who leads the Central District, and Anthony Brown, now head of Special Operations Section.

"You are the drivers of change in this police department," Bealefeld told the officers Friday. He called the group of sergeants and lieutenants the "best and the brightest."

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told them that "professional development is important not only for yourself but people who depend on your leadership."

Lt. Melissa R. Hyatt of the Northeastern District was selected as Friday's class representative. Her father worked for the department for more than 30 years, and her remarks focused on how leadership is crucial for the department as it navigates budgetary and morale problems.

She thanked the program's instructors, who included former city Fire Chief William Goodwin Jr., who resigned in 2007 amid no-confidence votes in his leadership.

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