Blog extra: Bealefeld's competition signed contract
Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III is profiled in today's Sun, in a piece exploring his challenges in trying to get the city and his own force to buy in to the city's progress. You can read the piece here, but I wanted to expand on one section that didn't make the final version: the city's pursuit of former DC Chief Charles Ramsey in 2007. It's not news that Ramsey was in the running, but in reporting this story I learned that Ramsey actually signed a contract to become Baltimore's 36th police commissioner.
Bealefeld had competition. Dixon’s advisors pressed her to go with a proven commodity, and, preferably, one who was black. Former Washington D.C. Chief Charles Ramsey sat for several interviews and generated a vocal backing, including Dixon’s chief of staff, Otis Rolley III, and O’Malley, at that point a key Dixon ally. City officials sought input from the mayors of New York, Chicago and Washington D.C., all who supported Ramsey’s selection.
Only two Dixon aides, Howard Dixon (no relation) and Sheryl Goldstein, were advocating for Bealefeld. His critics wondered why, as deputy commissioner running the department, Bealefeld hadn’t pushed harder on his policies then to curb the violence? (Bealefeld said it was his job to follow Hamm’s lead)
Ramsey’s appointment was imminent. In the blue-walled commissioner’s office overlooking the mouth of the Jones Falls Expressway, Bealefeld was hearing the whispers. Officers – working security at City Hall and city parking garages, monitoring cameras, even those on Dixon’s own security detail — were passing on news of Ramsey sightings. Ramsey and his key staff members were looking for housing in the area, and people were even stopping by police headquarters.
“Some guy calls up here one day and argues with the staff out there, ‘I want to speak with Chuck Ramsey,’” Bealefeld recalled. “He says, ‘Of course he’s here, I’m a friend of his, I know he’s the police commissioner.’ These are the calls I’m getting.”
Dixon said in a recent interview that she was turned off by some of Ramsey’s contract demands, and former aides say she wasn’t keen on the prospect that Ramsey might overshadow her. But she was also liking what she saw out of Bealefeld, who was deferential and kept her constantly updated with text messages and e-mails. And of course, perhaps most important, the crime wave was already showing signs of subsiding.“He was focused like a laser beam,” said a former staff member. “No one got him that job. He got himself that job.”
Dixon had changed her mind. It was not as simple as that, however. Ramsey had already been offered the job by Dixon and sent a contract, which he signed. Dixon called him from her cell phone while Ramsey, who is now the Philadelphia police commissioner and declined requests for comment, was said to be infuriated but ultimately stood down.