Michael Constantine Zotos, a retired Baltimore City Police Department deputy commissioner who later headed the Aberdeen Police Department, died of stroke complications Nov. 6 at Gilchrist Care in Towson. He was 87.
Born in Annapolis, he was the son of Constantine Zotos, who owned a restaurant, and his wife, Christine.
He was a 1952 graduate of Baltimore City College. He served in the Navy and left military service as a lieutenant.
He obtained a bachelor’s degree at the University of Baltimore, then a master’s degree in criminal justice at Coppin State University.
He joined the Baltimore City Police Department as a foot patrolman, working in the area of North and Greenmount avenues in 1959. He had earlier been a cosmetics manager, and told friends he took a pay cut to join the police force.
For 16 years, he served as commander of the executive protection unit and supervised security for Mayor William Donald Schaefer. He was a familiar presence at Baltimore City Hall, where he was chief of security.
During his career he was assigned to help protect visiting celebrities, including when the Beatles appeared at the old Baltimore Civic Center in 1964. He also stood by singer Frank Sinatra at his local appearances.
He rose through the department’s ranks and was promoted to colonel in the community services division in 1985 by Commissioner Bishop L. Robinson. He was later named deputy police commissioner. Among his duties, he oversaw the departmental crime lab and the evidence control division.
“Mike was a professional. His integrity was beyond reproach,” said Baltimore County Sheriff Jay Fisher, who worked with Mr. Zotos. “He was truly a policeman’s policeman. In personnel matters was was always fair.”
When Mr. Schaefer was elected governor and took office in 1987, Mr. Zotos accompanied him to Annapolis and worked on a temporary basis with the state police troopers who accompany the governor.
“Mike was a loyal, good man who was humble,” said Victor “Bruz” Frenkil Jr., a friend who lives in Glyndon. “He was proud of his Greek heritage, and represented that heritage very well. He also loved the time he spent with mayors and governors.”
In 1990, he was quoted in The Sun after the city Police Department changed to Glock pistols and declared the force’s old .38-caliber service revolvers obsolete. The city destroyed thousands of the old weapons rather than sell them to gun dealers.
“I have a strong preference for destroying these guns,” he said in the article. “I’m not sure it’s worth putting more handguns into commerce.”
He said the police weapons, as well as confiscated guns, were sent to the old Bethlehem Steel Corp. and melted down.
In 1994, when he announced his retirement, another article in The Sun quoted him discussing how, in his 35 years in the department, he witnessed drugs steadily move into the forefront of Baltimore crime.
"In 1967, there were 600 arrests for narcotics. Last year, we had 15,000, " Mr. Zotos said. "It's had a great impact on police work, especially with all the guns. There's more guns on the street than ever.
“It's a different city than when I started out,” he said.
After leaving his post in Baltimore, he was named the City of Aberdeen’s police chief.
"If I knew how to prevent crime, I could market the answer across the country, " he said in 1995 when he took the job, “but you can minimize it and be aware, for example, that Aberdeen sits on a natural roadway for narcotics trafficking.”
He retired from the Aberdeen post in 1999.
Mr. Zotos served as president of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association in 1991.
He was a Mason and a member of its Scottish Rite. He enjoyed magic tricks and collected coins. He was a Baltimore Colts and Ravens fan. He spent his summers at a vacation home In Wildwood, N.J.
A funeral will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, Cathedral and Preston streets, where he was a member.