As the head of the tactical section of the Baltimore Police Department, Maj. Regis R. Raffensberger has directed 225 employees and managed a $12.5 million budget. When he takes over as chief of the Frederick City Police, he will have about 100 employees and an annual budget of $5 million.
The job in Frederick, a picturesque old town of 40,000 people, may be easy in some ways but it is likely to be difficult in many others.
During the past decade, Frederick has felt the consequences as relentless suburban growth pushing north from Rockville, Gaithersburg and Germantown. This growth has welded Frederick into the Greater Washington area. It has also increased certain categories of typically urban crimes, above all drug use and drug trafficking.
Aside from these kinds of challenges, Major Raffensberger may also be walking into a mine field of political difficulties. He will succeed Maj. Richard J. Ashton, who served 15 years as chief before running afoul of Mayor Paul Gordon and the Frederick Fraternal Order of Police. In the end, the mayor and the police organization joined forces to smoke Major Ashton out. Later the FOP turned on the mayor, claiming he is "willing to do anything he can to crush us."
During his career in Baltimore, Major Raffensberger forged a reputation as a down-to-earth, no-nonsense administrator who was accessible to everyone, regardless of rank. In the tactical section he was an innovator, who developed the city's acclaimed helicopter unit.
Major Raffensberger's first priority in Frederick is to listen and learn. "We won't make radical changes right off the bat, but the mayor and I have had preliminary discussions on community police. Frederick is a good place for it," he says. As a charter member of the Baltimore FOP, he also should be in a good position to end needless feuding and improve the Frederick department's morale.