The Baltimore Police Department has hired a former DEA official and presidential appointee to head internal investigations, a move that the signals the agency's desire to get tougher on police misconduct.
Grayling Williams starts today in his new position, officials said. He spent 22 years with the Drug Enforcement Administration, including a stint as a supervisory special agent in Baltimore. In 2009, he was appointed by President Obama to serve as the Director of the Office of Counternarcotics Enforcement at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The agency has been looking for a full-time commander for the unit, which investigates claims of police misconduct, since the summer, when Maj. Nathan Warfield was removed due to concerns about his social relationship with an officer who had been under investigation for years and was federally indicted on drug distribution charges. Warfield, who Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III had handpicked for the job, was not charged and is now a patrol commander.
The Police Department rarely hires from the outside for top positions, but the new Internal Investigations Division chief is the second in two months to come from outside, following the hiring of former top Montgomery County commander John A. King to take over training and education.
Williams will hold the civilian title of director, and his salary is about $110,000.
Anthony Guglielmi, the department's chief spokesman, said Williams and Bealefeld worked together when Williams was with the DEA and Bealefeld was a task force officer.
"Everyone at the BPD is excited about Mr. Williams joining the agency," Guglielmi said. "He is exceptionally qualified to promote what we've been saying along: that we hold professional integrity at the highest level possible."
Robert F. Cherry, the president of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police lodge, said the union wasn’t informed of the hire and “looks forward to working together to improve internal investigations.”
The agency has long struggled with internal discipline. Former Mayor Sheila Dixon called it a "weak link" in 2009, amid the firing of the trial board prosecutor and the dismissal of more than 50 internal misconduct cases for reasons that were never confirmed. The agency has also steadily reduced how much it discloses about such cases, giving the public little insight into the repercussions officers who are found guilty face.
Last year brought a steady stream of negative headlines, including a towing kickback scandal that implicated dozens of officers, and the indictment of Officer Daniel Redd on federal drug charges. Williams is the fourth internal investigations chief since 2008.
Bealefeld repeatedly noted that police had discovered the misconduct themselves and referred investigations to the FBI, but critics say the fact that the misconduct was occurring in the first place is indicative of a troubled agency.
"A couple of the biggest black eyes that I took this year - the BPD took - I balled up my fist and hit myself in the eye. That wasn't someone else that came in and said, 'You have a towing scandal,'" Bealefeld said in late December. "We dedicated resources and built a partnership [with the FBI] that said, 'We want you to go out and hunt those guys that are doing wrong.' We weren't sitting and waiting."
"If I was another police chief anywhere in this region, anywhere in this country, I would be saying to myself, 'What is it I don't know [about my agency].' We challenge ourselves to say, 'What is it we don't know,' and if they're doing wrong, hold them accountable."
Here's Williams' full bio, from the DHS web site:
Grayling G. Williams was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the Director of the Office of Counternarcotics Enforcement (CNE) at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. On December 24, 2009, he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to direct CNE’s integrated efforts to coordinate policy and strategy to stop the entry of illegal drugs into the United States.
Before his appointment, Director Williams served as a special agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for almost 23 years and prior to DEA, was a police officer with the Yale University Police Department. Director Williams spent ten years in the Boston Field Division conducting numerous undercover operations and wiretap investigations. He was a Supervisory Special Agent in the Baltimore District Office and the Washington Division Office. Director Williams was also assigned to DEA Headquarters where he served as Chief of the Policy and Source Management Section, managing operational policy development and the confidential informant program, and as the Executive Assistant to the Chief of Operations.
A former instructor at the DEA Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia, Director Williams taught Undercover Operations, Surveillance Techniques, and Informant Management to law enforcement officers in the U.S. and overseas. In January 2006, he was detailed to the Office of the Chief Information Officer at theU.S. Department of Justice(DOJ), where he assisted in the development of the DOJ Law Enforcement Information Sharing Program.
Director Williams has served as the Federal Law Enforcement Advisor to the President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) and as the chapter president of the Washington, DCNOBLE chapter. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from the University of New Haven and a Master of Science degree in Management from The Johns Hopkins University.
Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun