Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has named an advisory panel to assist in the search for the city's next police commissioner following the retirement of Frederick H. Bealefeld III.
The mayor's office said the panel will conduct interviews of internal and external applicants and recommend finalists to Rawlings-Blake. It's headed by Baltimore attorney Ken Thompson, a partner at Venable LLP. Rawlings-Blake's new chief of staff, Alexander M. Sanchez, is vice chairman, and the group includes leaders of three universities and a former city fire chief.
Noting the city's drops in gun violence during Bealefeld's tenure, Rawlings-Blake said in a statement that "it is absolutely, critically important that our next police commissioner build on this progress."
The commissioner, whose last official day is Aug. 1, has delegated day-to-day operations to Deputy Commissioner Anthony Barksdale. Bealefeld is expected to meet with the panel before they interview applicants, officials said.
Among internal candidates, Barksdale is believed to be best-positioned for the post, having served in the No. 2 role for nearly five years after being the youngest-ever deputy commissioner. But aides to Rawlings-Blake say there is not a favorite and that they want a deep pool of candidates from outside the agency.
Ryan O'Doherty, a spokesman for Rawlings-Blake, said the city has contracted with the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit law enforcement think tank in Washington, to conduct the search and screen applicants. The think tank will be paid $25,000 for the work, O'Doherty said.
Chuck Wexler, its executive director and a former Boston police official, is also a member of the advisory panel and is the only member with law enforcement experience.
The job posting for the position, obtained by The Baltimore Sun last month, sets the qualifications for the job as a bachelor's degree in a law enforcement field and five years of command-level experience or a high school diploma with 10 years of command-level experience. It also lays out requirements such as strong leadership skills and ability to interpret crime statistics.
Bealefeld, who got the Baltimore job over former Washington, D.C., Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, did not have a college degree when he took the helm of the department in 2007, though that is increasingly rare among police chiefs nationwide. Ramsey campaigned for the job and signed a contract before then-Mayor Sheila Dixon changed her mind.
Dixon's search process was led by a less formal panel consisting of Cabinet officials and a handful of community members, including her pastor, the Rev. Frank M. Reid III of Bethel AME Church.
In addition to Bealefeld, Rawlings-Blake is also losing her Cabinet's top adviser on crime, Sheryl Goldstein, who worked closely with the Police Department and secured millions in grant funds. She announced her retirement the same day as Bealefeld, and she will step down this week.
Thompson was one of four co-leaders of Rawlings-Blake's mayoral transition team, assisting with economic development issues. Herman Williams Jr., chairman of the Municipal Employees Credit Union and Baltimore's fire chief from 1992 to 2001, is the only member of the panel who served on Rawlings-Blake's transition team on the public safety committee.
Other members of the advisory panel:
•Robert L. Bogomolny, president of the University of Baltimore.
•Ronald J. Daniels, the president of Johns Hopkins University (not to be confused with former Baltimore police commissioner Ronald Daniel).
•Phoebe A. Haddon, dean of the University of Maryland Law School.
•Michael D. Hankin, president and CEO of Brown Advisory Inc., an investment firm.
•Yolanda Jiggetts, Rawlings-Blake's deputy chief for public safety.
•John A. Luetkemeyer Jr., co-chair of the Baltimore Police Foundation, which raises money to fund police initiatives, and president of Continental Realty Corp.
City Solicitor George Nilson is also serving as a "special adviser," the mayor's office said.
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