Katherine Perez grew up with an abusive mother and in shelters and foster homes. Her brother was in jail the last she heard. People who know the woman charged with monitoring Maryland’s juvenile detention centers aren’t surprised that she has angered some people in advocating forcefully to improve conditions, says the Baltimore Sun. Colleagues call the ex-police chief, 44, hard-charging and relentless. “She would always say that no matter what happens, whether it costs you your position, you can never go wrong by doing what’s right,” said John Nesky, who was Perez’s deputy in District Heights, Md., and succeeded her as chief.
Last week, advocates for reforms of the juvenile services system praised Perez for her unflinching reports describing poor conditions in the detention centers. Juvenile Services Secretary Kenneth C. Montague Jr. complained that she failed to follow procedures used by her predecessor before making the reports public. The department had expected more time to respond. The Sun profiles Perez, who was described earlier by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. as a “leader with tremendous personal and professional experience, qualifications and integrity.” The job was created in 2002 by legislators, led by Montague, to review and issue reports about juvenile programs.