How many scandals can a police department weather before the leadership is blamed? That’s what many people are wondering about the Baltimore Police Department and it’s Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III. While the initial shakeups provided him an opportunity to show his leadership under pressure, some are starting to wonder if the problems are now a sign of poor leadership.
According to the Baltimore Sun, when asked to reflect on his time with the department in 2009, Bealefeld said “Come on, has anybody had to go through what we’ve gone through?”
Known for not pulling any punches at press conferences and being relatively available, Bealefeld has steered clear of the press lately while maintaining contacts with community leaders.
He could be pulling back because he knows the heat is on. Just this year, a plainclothes officer was shot by other officers outside a nightclub, a veteran officer was indicted for running a heroin ring and even selling heroin on police property, and 50 officers have been identified in a kickback scheme involving towing companies.
While crime in the city is down, this reflects a nationwide trend and may not be indicative of Bealefeld’s performance. “The reality is, chiefs of police nationwide work for a political leader, and their tenure is based on how they serve that political leader,” says the director of Johns Hopkins University Police Executive Leadership Program Sheldon Greenberg. “What politicians want first and foremost is good stats, and they’re willing to forgo a lot of other things if their chiefs give them good statistics.”
In other words, had crime risen or even remained steady, there’s a chance Bealefeld may not have lasted this long.
Despite all of the drama within the department, some of Bealefeld’s support is holding pretty steady. He has the confidence of community leaders behind him and that of the FOP. On the other hand, some believe his time is up and the department could benefit from new leadership.
There’s little doubt that community confidence in the department is wavering. How can a city expect to stand behind its police when the police keep making headlines with questionable and even criminal behavior themselves. Pointing fingers doesn’t solve the problem and while the finger-pointing is going on, leaders are missing their opportunity to restore public confidence.
It’s normal to not trust the police in Baltimore—a sad but true fact. But when you are arrested and charged with a crime, your mistrust can be at an all-time high. A criminal defense attorney is often the only person that you might feel comforted by within the legal system. If you are facing charges, contact us today for a consultation on your case.