Two of the most outspoken critics of top officials in the Howard County Police Department have been ousted in close police union elections, a result that some union members had said could give department officials more control of the union.
Union members narrowly elected John Paparazzo to the presidency over Detective Jim Fitzgerald by four votes, 80 to 76. In the secretary's race, union members elected Bill Block over the incumbent, Detective Dan Besseck, 83 to 73.
Vice presidential candidate Bob Castor and the incumbent treasurer, Cpl. Morris Carroll, were unopposed.
Sixty-four percent of Howard County Police Officer's Association members voted in the election that ended Saturday, fewer than union officials had expected in a race that many felt was a referendum on the approach union officials would take in contract talks.
Detective Fitzgerald and Detective Besseck were vocal opponents of management who said their strained relationship with officials was a result of their unwillingness to compromise over officers' rights.
Mr. Paparazzo, chief firearms instructor, and Mr. Block, who works in the Research and Planning Section, had stressed a need for cooperation between the union and management.
Some officers had expressed fears that an emphasis on cooperation could weaken their negotiating position when contract talks begin as early as December.
Mr. Paparazzo and Detective Fitzgerald declined to comment yesterday. Mr. Block also declined to comment, except to say, "I'm happy."
Detective Besseck called his loss unexpected.
"But that's the way the union voted. I still plan to be a very active member in the association."
In a prepared statement read by a spokesman, Police Chief James N. Robey said yesterday that he looks "forward to working with the new administration for the betterment of law enforcement and police service in the community."
The new officers will begin their two-year tenures next month.