Maj. Pat Bradley, who has headed the Baltimore Police Academy through a decade of tumultuous change, is retiring from his post after a 23-year career that took him from a self-described "5-foot, 8-inch patrolman in glasses" to the director's office of the state's largest police training center.
A leader in the movement to modernize police training in Maryland, Major Bradley was selected this week from a field of 45 candidates to take over the No. 2 job in the state agency that oversees police academies statewide.
He is expected to be confirmed by State Public Safety Director Bishop Robinson sometime next week as the deputy director of the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions.
With his departure on Jan. 17, the Baltimore Police Department will lose one of its most highly educated administrators and the architect of academy programs that have been copied around the state and the nation. Major Bradley holds degrees from Penn State and Johns Hopkins Universities in addition to a law degree from the University of Maryland.
"It's not an easy thing to take," said Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Zotos. "When you lose a man of Pat's expertise and integrity, you don't replace him easily. He has left his mark on our academy and the department."
Since 1983, Major Bradley has overseen the training of 1,300 police recruits and hundreds of veteran officers and has supervised a team of academy instructors who designed ground-breaking instruction programs in everything from community policing and weapons to tactics and traumatic stress.
Soft-spoken and professorial, he is known within the ranks for his high ideals and lofty dissertations on what he calls the "science of police work." That approach has won him praise and criticism as the department has begun the often painful transition from a rough-and-tumble style of police work to one that stresses neighborhood activism. "We have been the pressure point for a lot of changes in the department over the years," Mr. Bradley said yesterday. "And some of those changes haven't come easily. But we have always operated under the assumption that it's our job to push new ideas and new approaches, especially when it's unpopular.
"That's not the traditional role of a police academy, as some people see it. But overcoming that resistance is sometimes the most satisfying part of the job."
Outside the department, Mr. Bradley stressed for years the importance of police executives receiving advanced training before they sew on their stripes or pin on their bars -- a proposition that found support this year in a new seminar being offered by the training commission and in the flowering of programs at the state's universities.
"Maryland has always been as good or better than any other state in police training, but we've been way behind where we should be in police management training," said Charles Wellford, head of the criminal justice department at the University of Maryland.
"Pat Bradley, more than anyone else, has been the one who kept reminding us of that fact and kept pushing all the state agencies to do something about it. Now, we're finally seeing those programs emerge in Maryland."
And it was that persistence, along with his years of experience, that won Major Bradley the unanimous support of the committee that recommended him Wednesday for the state job.
"He was head-and-shoulders above the rest of the candidates for the job," said Mr. Wellford, who sat on the committee. "They don't come any better in Maryland -- or anywhere else."