Making up for a wave of recent departures, Baltimore police announced promotions Friday to fill some top-level positions.
Among the moves: Keith Matthews, a 33-year-veteran who has led the Eastern District since December 2012, will become a lieutenant colonel and take on the role of an area commander overseeing the Eastern as well as the Northeastern and Northern districts, while Sean Miller will take on the role of area commander overseeing Northwestern, Western and Southwestern districts.
The area commander positions are relatively new in the department, each of them overseeing three of the nine patrol districts. Two of those slots came open in recent weeks after the announced retirement of Lt. Col. Dan Lioi and the abrupt resignation of Lt. Col. Clifton McWhite, a 19-year veteran who stepped down April 14 for what the department described as personal reasons.
Taking Matthews' spot leading the Eastern District will be Stanley Brandford, who has run the homicide unit for the past 17 months.
Sliding over to oversee homicide investigations will be Maj. Dennis Smith, who police said would also continue in his role as commander of the district detective unit. That means Smith will be in charge of investigating non-fatal shootings, robberies and serious assaults, as well as homicides, kidnappings and suspicious deaths.
The agency has yet to find a permanent commander for its training academy, which saw a revolving door of leaders after a recruit was accidentally shot in the head during an unauthorized training drill in Baltimore County. Two replacements for the then-leadership retired from the agency, leaving a void since April 2013.
Police said Friday that they had appointed a second-in-command for the academy, however, promoting Lt. Mark Mason to captain.
Among other promotions announced Friday: Maj. Ian Dombrowski was made commander of the Southern District, a position he has held in an acting capacity for a number of months. Anthony W. Batts informed Dombrowski of the promotion at a public forum last week.
And Capt. Rhonda McCoy — who in an acting capacity has overseen the Special Investigations Section, which includes sex offense investigations, for the past few months — was formally given the position. Maj. Sabrina Tapp-Harper, who previously held the position, left in January and joined the Baltimore City sheriff's office.
Other moves are also looming: Batts will have to find a new deputy commissioner to replace department veteran John P. Skinner, prompting a fresh round of backfilling.