Legislators oppose Schmoke's police review board nominees


State legislators who helped create Baltimore's police Civilian Review Board said yesterday that they intend to amend the legislation to shorten the term of the board's first members from three years to six months. The change would counter City Council's approval Monday of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke's seven nominations to the review board, created this year to monitor police misconduct.

The state legislators who helped get the measure passed in Annapolis complained that Schmoke failed to open the appointment process to all residents and that three of his nominees were recommended by the police.

Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell IV said yesterday that he will introduce state legislation that would shorten the term of the Schmoke appointments. He has no personal objections to the nominees, he said, but complained that city activists who helped push for the review panel weren't given a chance to apply.

Schmoke has criticized the opposition by state legislators -- including state Sen. Joan Carter Conway and Del. Nathaniel T. Oaks -- as "politics dressed up to look like policy." He contends that the legislators are fighting his picks because citizens they favored weren't nominated to the board. The legislators deny the accusation, saying they are seeking a fair and objective selection process.

In response to Mitchell's attempt to reduce the terms, Schmoke said that state law already staggers the terms of the citizen members, with three expiring next year, three more in 2001 and the final three in 2002.

The mayor, who will leave next month after 12 years in office, withdrew two names of board members on Monday night, Winifred Ashby and George W. Collins. Collins' name was withdrawn after he acknowledged being recommended to the panel by a police commander. Ashby could not be reached to comment on her name being withdrawn.

Four council members attempted to reject the Schmoke nominees, including Mayor-elect Martin O'Malley. O'Malley, who will succeed Schmoke on Dec. 7, said he voted against the measure because he understood the legislators' point.

Despite being disappointed with the council vote, board proponents are welcoming its start.

"I disagree with the process," said Bill Goodin, a Northeast Baltimore activist. "But at least we have a civilian review board."

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