The city of Baltimore is conducting a “national search” for their next police commissioner. One thing is becoming abundantly clear — that search better not include any member of the Baltimore Police Department. Another high-ranking member of the organization, Maj. Kimberly Burrus, is suspended facing possible felony charges, this time for stealing from a charity to pay for a vacation (“Baltimore police commander recalled from elite fellowship, suspended after Sun reveals theft investigation,” June 5).
The command staff of the department knew about this, yet it still decided that Major Burrus was International Association of Chief of Police fellowship material. Ironically, If not comically, the previous IACP fellowship recipient, Darryl De Sousa, is also facing criminal charges in federal court. In a soap opera type twist, the allegation of embezzlement from the charity came out in divorce court in a revelation from Ms. Burrus’ husband, a police captain. Also revealed in court was a messy love triangle between Major Burrus, her estranged husband, and another commander with whom she was having an affair.
It is clear that integrity, personal responsibility and sound judgment are not prerequisites for membership in the department’s command staff. The folks in the top levels of the organization have all been promoted from within. What kind of criteria was used? Who in the department, coming up through the ranks under those criteria, is actually qualified to lead? When one looks at how these people are running their own personal and professional lives, it helps explain how widespread corruption like that in the Gun Trace Task Force can occur.
The problems of the BPD are not a few “bad apples,” as the bosses like to say. The whole barrel is rotten from the top down. Given all this, who can believe that the reformer needed to overhaul this mess of a police department can come from within?
Len Brewer, Severn