Bernstein declined to outline what he would hope for in a successor, saying that was up to the mayor. “I’m sure that the mayor will be very thoughtful in her decision making and she’ll consult with her advisors. To the extent that she wants my advice, I’m happy to talk to her about it, but again, it’s ultimately her decision, and I’ll respect her decision and I’ll work with whomever she selects.”
Gary McLhinney, former city police union president and chief of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police. He served with Bealefeld in a drug squad.
“He survived longer than most police commissioners in big cities, and when I use the word survived, I mean survived, because that’s what you do as police commissioner. You survive. He stayed on for the reason most police commissioers are kept, crime is going down.”
On the problems in the deparment: “Those things, they happen. We’re a police department that because of its pay and benefit package cannot attract the most qualified people for the job. The majority of officers go out there and do a great job in the city and have a high ethical standard. But when you have 3,000 people you’re going to have some folks making problems. The challenge for the police commissioner is, ‘Do you sweep it unrder the rug and don’t get blamed for it? Or do you shine a light on it and take criticism for it. He did the latter, probably more than previous commissioners.”
“It’s not an easy. Job, mentally, physically. Baltimore City has some very strong critics of the police department, who have critical of every police commissioner in the past two decades. You will never satisfy them.”
House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch, who represents East Baltimore, said Bealefeld did a great job in bringing crime down in the city. Branch said he was especially appreciative of the quality of the majors Bealefeld appointed in the precincts in his district.
The veteran delegate said he expects the city to launch a national search for a successor, adding that the department could use “some new people and some new ideas.”
Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell of West Baltimore said she too would like to see the department consider candidates from other cities. “It is an opportunity to look outside of Baltimor,” she said. “But the candidate has to be [one] with a strong track record with the urban setting.”
Jones said she had found Bealefeld responsive and respectful but that their dealings had been limited. “As delegation chair, I’m not sure that was the best ting in the world,” she said. “In my district, youd get mixed reviews because you have a very diverse population. . . . Things can be improved in all areas and the police department is not one where everything is shiny.”
Sen. Bill Ferguson, who represents South and Southeast Baltimore in Annapolis, said he is surprised and disappointed to see Bealefeld go and hopes the commissioner will have a voice in the mayor’s choice of a successor.
“He’s done an amazing work in really improving the efficiency of the police force,” Ferguson said, pointing to a decline in arrest rates at the same time homicide numbers have been reduced.
“His policy of going after habitual violent gun offenders is something that everyone in the city can agree is an absolute priority for us to get under control,” Ferguson said.
Del. Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., who represents a West Baltimore District, said Bealefeld would be missed. “He was one I’ve always had a good relationship with, even when he was a major and I was on the City Council,” Mitchell said. “He was one of those rare commissioners that wasn’t political.”
Mitchell said that was one reason for the commissioner’s long tenure in that office.
“He was a straight shooter,” Mitchell said. “Sometimes he ruffled feathers by calling perpetrators ‘knuckleheads’ or something like that, but he was speaking from the heart.”