Maryland state police Superintendent David B. Mitchell announced yesterday the promotion of three officers to top jobs in the department after he ousted most of his top aides last month.
Lt. Col. Larry E. Harmel, 50, who was the only key aide to survive the administrative shake-up, was promoted to deputy superintendent, the department's No. 2 job.
Colonel Mitchell also promoted Maj. Charles R. Mazzone, 44, and Maj. Ernest J. Leatherbury, 47, each to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Colonel Leatherbury becomes the first African-American in the department to hold that rank.
The superintendent also announced that he will pare the number of his key aides from four to three.
"This reflects a leaner organization and less bureaucracy," Colonel Mitchell said yesterday. "Clearly we're looking for that."
In making the promotions, Colonel Mitchell said he was looking for diversity of experience, education and demonstrated performance, which "was the key ingredient," he said.
The choices, he said, should send "very clear and very positive" signals in his effort to address critical problems that have plagued the state police.
In the past two years, the department has come under fire in connection with several missteps.
It is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice over allegations of widespread sexual harassment. Last month, it settled sexual harassment lawsuits filed by three troopers. The department admitted no wrongdoing, but the settlement could cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
And early last year the department launched a poorly run investigation of The Block, the notorious cluster of bars and strip joints in downtown Baltimore. After spending more than $300,000 in tax dollars on the four-month investigation, more than half of the 87 drug arrests later were dropped because of weak evidence, police misconduct, or both.
"We have made it very clear that sexual harassment and racial discrimination will not be tolerated," Colonel Mitchell said yesterday.
And he said that future investigations in the city of Baltimore will not be launched without the knowledge or partnership of city police.
"Suffice it to say that all three [aides] share the same values, goals and philosophy," he said.
A 29-year veteran on the force, Colonel Harmel has recently been chief of the Special Operations Bureau and will continue to oversee that department in his new job.
Colonel Leatherbury, a 23-year veteran, moves from his job as commander of the Eastern Region of the Maryland State Police, which includes all Eastern Shore barracks.
Colonel Mazzone has been on the force 25 years, most recently as assistant chief of the Administrative Services Bureau, which oversees personnel, training and the motor vehicle division.
Under the new structure, the Bureau of Drug Enforcement will be combined with the Criminal Investigation Division. A lieutenant colonel in the past has overseen that bureau and has been among the four top aides, but that job will be handled by Colonel Harmel, eliminating the need for one aide.
Of the three aides who were forced out last month, two have announced their resignations -- Lt. Col. James E. Harvey and Lt. Col. Terrence B. Sheridan. Lt. Col. Roland J. Meerdter, former chief of the administrative services bureau, has not announced plans to resign and may choose to be demoted to the rank of captain, Colonel Mitchell said. The new appointments are effective Aug. 2.