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Norris receives standing ovation during public swearing-in ceremony; Police head repeats vow to improve safety in city


Baltimore Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris was sworn into office Wednesday evening at a public ceremony in which he reiterated his promise to make the city one of the nation's safest.

Norris, with his wife, Katheryn, and 10-month-old son, John, by his side, signed the city register as a crowd at the War Memorial Building gave him a standing ovation.

The public display was largely ceremonial; Norris was sworn in at a private function a day after he was unanimously confirmed by the City Council on May 8.

Though the former New York Police Department chief deputy had no dissenting votes, he faced weeks of criticism from residents, politicians and clergy worried that he will copy aggressive policing strategies blamed for abuse in New York.

"It was a long process and a difficult time for the Police Department and this city," Norris said. "I will certainly show you that you made the right decision."

The Rev. Harley Wilson, pastor of Israel Baptist Church in East Baltimore, urged Norris to "turn this city of crime and violence into a city of love."

Also Wednesday, 33 officers were promoted. Barry W. Powell and Bert Shirey officially became deputy commissioners.

Three majors were promoted to colonels; two lieutenants became majors; six sergeants became lieutenants; and 21 officers became sergeants.

Ragina L. Cooper was appointed director of public affairs and will be Norris' chief spokeswoman.

The former police agent, with nine years of experience, had to resign to accept the civilian job.

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