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Top city police staff shuffled Frazier to announce commanders' transfers


Baltimore's police commissioner plans to announce a sweeping shake-up in the command staff today aimed at reinvigorating the department and giving top-ranking officers more time to meet with residents, officials confirmed last night.

The changes mark the biggest shift in the department's hierarchy since 1994, when Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier transferred three district commanders and announced the retirement of several other high-ranking officers.

No officials have been asked to resign or are losing their jobs. But several are being transferred from high-profile positions, such as district commanders, to desk jobs at the downtown headquarters.

Frazier said last night that the moves are mostly routine shifts he wants to make every 30 to 36 months as part of his oft-stated goal of rotating officers through different jobs.

Two of the moves were partly in response to recent criticisms that the department discriminates in disciplining officers and has too few black officers on the force. The head of the Internal Investigation Division, Maj. Robert Novak, who is white, is being replaced with a black commander, Maj. Carl Brown, who headed the property division. Novak is going to planning and research.

Also, a black major will be promoted to colonel and be in charge of the human resources department, which oversees budgets and hiring.

"Any time I make a decision, it's in the total framework of the department and the city," Frazier said, adding that replacing Col. Joseph R. Bolesta, who is white, with Maj. Robert R. Smith, who is black, is partly in response to the report. Bolesta will take over technical services.

"This is consistent with [Frazier's] policy on rotation," said Bolesta, a 30-year veteran who spent 27 years in patrol. "This makes me more marketable when I retire. It's another opportunity for me to learn something new."

Among the most significant changes is the transfer of Maj. Bert L. Shirey, who has been on the force for nearly 30 years and is a popular commander at the Northeastern District station, where he has been for the past six years. Shirey, considered the dean of the nine district commanders, will become the new head of the tactical unit. That unit's commander, Maj. Arthur Smith, will take Shirey's position.

The other significant action is promoting Maj. John E. Gavrilis to colonel. He will move from commanding the Southeastern District to chief of the Field Operations Bureau, a job he will share with Col. Ronald L. Daniel.

Field operations chief is considered one of the top positions in the department, overseeing most of the department's 3,200 officers. Each field operations commander will be responsible for half of the city, and Frazier said that will enable them to get out more in the communities.

"What we really need to see as we move toward community-oriented policing is leadership in the field," Frazier said. "I need to see colonels at stations, in Police Athletic League centers and at community association meetings."

A department spokesman said the decision to split the duties of Daniel and Gavrilis came in response to a report commissioned at the beginning of Frazier's tenure three years ago that recommended many changes in how the department was organized.

The initial report prompted Frazier to eliminate the positions of deputy commissioners and purge the command staff soon after he arrived.

Officer Gary McLhinney, president of the police union, said that the writer of that report visited the department last week. "When he comes to town, heads start to roll," the union president said. "I think the community is losing," McLhinney said of the changes.

"After three years of Commissioner Frazier, the department is still in a constant state of turmoil. These majors and colonels are in a constant state of fear because Frazier rules with a stick. They are afraid to make decisions. They are afraid to do their jobs."

One top commander being replaced is Col. Leon N. Tomlin, a longtime veteran who recently suffered a heart attack and was moved from the field operations bureau to the less stressful job of running technical services. He is now on extended medical leave.

Other changes to be announced today: Lt. Elmer Dennis, promoted to major in the criminal investigation bureau working on special investigations; Capt. Gary D'Addario, head of evidence control, to run the property division; Maj. Barry Powell, who headed the crimes against property section, to run the Western District. Maj. Victor Gregory, who worked in Daniel's office, to head the police academy; Maj. Timothy Long, who headed the communications division, to command the Southeastern District; Maj. John Reintzell, who headed the police academy, to head communications.

Pub Date: 12/04/96

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