Time line of Police Commissioner Bealefeld's career

May 05, 2012|By Peter Hermann

With Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III planning to leave the city in August, after having served 31 years on the force, and five as chief, we put together a time line of his tenure:

May 1981 — Bealefeld joins the city police force as a cadet after suffering a sports injury that dashed his hopes of earning an athletic scholarship. He follows his great-grandfather and great-uncle into policing. His grandfather once walked a beat on Greenmount Avenue and a great-uncle was killed in the line of duty.

Oct. 4, 2007 — Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon names Bealefeld police commissioner. His predecessor left after concerns about the tens of thousands of arrests as part of zero-tolerance strategies.

Nov. 19, 2007 — The City Council approves Bealefeld as police commissioner, paying him $190,000 a year, with a near unanimous vote. One member abstained. The contract carries him through 2014, with staggered, lump sum payments if he is fired before certain dates along the way.

Nov. 23, 2007 — The number of arrests drop to 67,000 a year from a high of 105,000 in 2005, the first sign that Dixon and Bealefeld’s pledge to move away from zero-tolerance is working.

Nov. 29, 2007 — Bealefeld, speaking at a public forum, announces what would become his signature “bad guys with guns” strategy.

Aug. 20, 2008 — The head of the crime lab is fired after it was learned evidence had been contaminated with analysts’ DNA, raising questions about the professionalism of the state’s biggest and busiest lab.

Oct. 25, 2008 — Despite a sharp drop in homicides, it was revealed that detectives are solving murders at the second-lowest rate in 28 years.

March 12, 2009 — Commissioner reconsiders policy he instituted in January not naming officers involved in departmental shootings. He said the controversy was distracting the agency.

Sept. 2, 2009 — Officers given BlackBerry's called “pocket cops” to help them run record checks and see pictures of wanted suspects more quickly

Feb. 4, 2010 — Dixon leaves office after a plea to settle corruption and perjury charges involving stolen gift cards. Speculation ensues about Bealefeld’s future as City Council President Stephanie Rawlings-Blake takes over.

May 13, 2010 — Bealefeld forcefully urges City Council members to resist suggested budget cuts that he said would decimate his department and set back a decade of progress in reducing shootings and homicides. He said the cuts were not grounded in reality, would violate a union contract, would devastate patrol operations and could prompt an exodus of officers.

June 5, 2010 — Off-duty Officer Gahiji A. Tshamba shoots and kills an unarmed Marine outside a nightclub in Mount Vernon during a dispute over a woman. After charges are later filed, the officer fails to surrender, prompting a citywide manhunt. Tshamba is convicted of manslaughter and gun charges and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He had several past issues involving shootings while on the force, raising questions of how he kept his job.

June 26, 2010 — An investigation by The Baltimore Sun reveals that more than 30 percent of rape cases investigated by detectives each year are deemed unfounded, five times the national average. Also, 4 of 10 emergency calls involving allegations of rape, officers conclude that there is no need for a further review. The stories prompt sweeping changes in the way rape investigations are handled and prompt officers to review past reports, even having advocates for abused women staff hot lines so people can report attacks if they feel uncomfortable talking with police.

July 20, 2010 — Officer Salvatore Rivieri, caught on video berating and pushing a 14-year-old skateboarder at the Inner Harbor in 2007, is cleared of the most serious administrative charges. Bealefeld fires him anyway, sparking a court battle with the union that is still pending. A police major who commanded homicide, who chaired the administrative trial board, is later demoted. Union officials say this incident is one of the few times when Bealefeld angered rank and file officers.

Sept. 17, 2010 — Patricia C. Jessamy concedes race for state’s attorney to Gregg L. Bernstein, an upstart challenger and close friends with Bealefeld, who took the unusual step of openly supporting him to end what he felt was animosity with the longtime prosecutor over how to fight crime. It re-energized a tired Bealefeld by creating a new city front in the war on crime.

Oct. 20, 2010 — Officer Tommy Portz Jr. is killed when his cruiser strikes a parked fire engine on U.S. 40 in the city. Portz, the first officer to die in the line of duty since 2007, was a personal friend of the commissioner’s. He cited Portz’s death as a reason the job has exhausted him.

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