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Fired Annapolis police chief Scott Baker is Harford County’s new liquor board general manager

Fired Annapolis police chief Scott Baker is Harford County’s new liquor board general manager
Former Annapolis City Police Chief Scott Baker will assume the role of general manager of the Harford County Liquor Control Board on Monday. Baker was fired in February from the Annapolis department. (By Matthew Cole / Capital Gazette)

The former Annapolis police chief who was fired earlier this year begins a new job Monday with the Harford County Liquor Control Board.

Scott Baker was introduced at Wednesday’s liquor board meeting by Chairwoman Sheryl Davis Kohl as its new general manager.

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Kohl said Baker has “a lot of great qualities.”

In an email, Kohl noted Baker’s 32 years of law enforcement experience and previous experience working with liquor boards.

“Commissioners and Staff at the Harford County Liquor Control Board are looking forward to working with Scott Baker,” Kohl wrote.

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley fired Baker Feb. 22, about 18 months after Baker had been promoted to chief of the city’s police department. The mayor cited waning confidence in the chief’s ability to forge positive ties with residents in high-crime areas of Annapolis as his reason for firing Baker.

After his firing, Baker remained in his position for about a month, running the day-to-day operations until March 20, and remained on the city’s payroll through the summer.

Retired from the Baltimore Police Department after serving nearly 21 years, Baker joined the Annapolis department in 2008. He was named chief when the former chief was fired after a year with 10 homicides in the city.

The Timonium resident, who has lived in Edgewood and the Harford County side of Monkton, starts with the Harford liquor board Monday.

“I’ve been in police work for 32 years, it’s time to take it down a notch,” Baker said Wednesday.

Liquor inspectors fell under his purview at one point in Annapolis, so it’s something that interested him, Baker said.

Baker was hired to replace Pilar Gracia, who left the board June 10.

Gracia’s departure coincided with the Harford liquor board and its staff coming under fire from the LGBTQ community after Gracia and inspector William Colburn met with several restaurant owners and liquor licensees about scheduled drag events, ultimately leading to those events being canceled.

Kohl said in June that Gracia leaving was a personnel matter and “absolutely not” related to the controversy surrounding the canceled drag events.

Around the same time, the liquor board and the Maryland LGBT Chamber of Commerce issued a joint statement calling the dust-up “a miscommunication between the board and the licensees.”

Gracia was hired as the board’s legal counsel in February 2008 and in July 2015 became the board administrator when the previous administrator resigned.

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She had been serving both roles until May, when the board chose to separate them and hired Amy Finneran, a solo attorney who is of counsel to the law office of Baltimore County-based Burgess Law LLC, to serve as its legal counsel.

The title change from administrator to general manager is simply a name change to reflect language used in state statutes — the responsibilities remain the same, which is day-to-day operations of the liquor control agency.

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