Frederick H. Bealefeld III, Baltimore’s new police commissioner, became a city police cadet after graduating from high school. More than 25 years later, he has never worked for any other agency. The Baltimore Sun says his lifetime of Baltimore experience is what might have given him the edge over his rival candidate, former Washington, D.C., police chief Charles Ramsey. It’s what appears to give Bealefeld credibility with his 3,000 officers.
Bealefeld’s style and qualifications mark a shift from the past few police commissioners. Leonard Hamm, who was fired after a spike of killings, was seen by some as too passive. In contrast, the previous two leaders, Kevin P. Clark and Edward T. Norris, were seen as hands-on and actively engaged in police work. But both had come from New York and were dogged by complaints of not having been raised in Baltimore’s department. His lack of a college degree is unusual for the leader of a major police department. A 1998 study by the Police Executive Research Forum of 358 cities and counties of 50,000 or more residents found that 87 percent of the chiefs had bachelor’s degrees and nearly half had earned master’s degrees.