Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier has ordered 35 officers to rotate to new jobs Friday, the day he resigns, prompting critics to charge that he is taking a "parting shot" at his troops.
Frazier's policy of moving officers to new jobs every three years, which he instituted shortly after he arrived in 1994, has been disputed from the start. Police union officials said yesterday that such personnel decisions should not be implemented by a lame-duck commissioner.
"What a slap in the face," said Officer Gary McLhinney, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 3.
The department's chief spokesman, Robert W. Weinhold Jr., said the moves are routine and had been planned since June. "According to commanders, officers and their supervisors have known about their anticipated rotation dates for a period of time," he said.
The official orders were posted Monday. About half of the 35 officers are being moved to patrol districts from the Criminal Investigation Bureau. The others are being shifted from districts to detective squads downtown.
Frazier instituted rotation five years ago to break up what he called elite squads, such as homicide, and open opportunities for minority officers and others who didn't have connections that would enable them to move out of patrol.
Union officials and other critics of the policy hope rotation will be rescinded when Frazier, who is taking a U.S. Justice Department position, leaves. Col. John E. Gavrilis, who will be acting commissioner starting Saturday, could not be reached for comment.
The Democratic mayoral nominee, Martin O'Malley, a frequent Frazier critic, said that if he is elected mayor in November, any of the 35 officers "who want to go back to their old jobs are going back Dec. 8," the day the new mayor takes office. O'Malley did not address the shifting of hundreds of other officers during Frazier's tenure.