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The Tentacle


July 17, 2012

Hail to the Chief!

Roy Meachum

The Gazette’s Katherine Heerbrandt brought to the community’s attention that Washington’s Kim Dine has spent 10 years as chief of the Frederick City Police. Charles Main headed the department when I moved here in early 1983.

 

In those days this was a semirural community with the good ol’ boys firmly in charge. People were in no rush to “modre-nize.” Mr. Main was replaced by Dick Ashton, who was solely notable for his college education, a rarity among local cops. Personally I liked Dick, but as a journalist, I was aware that he was not the strongest law enforcement official I’d ever known. Suddenly Chief Ashton disappeared from downtown streets. I never knew why, but suspected intradepartmental machinations.

 

Mayor Paul Gordon brought in Baltimore Police Major Regis “Ray” Raffensberger. They made a grand pair listening to no one else. To say they were stubborn the way they went about the public business is to understate – woefully. As a member of the official search committee, Alderwoman Fran Baker forcefully let it be known she thought he was the wrong choice.

 

Mrs. Baker proved right. Jim Grimes, who followed Mr. Gordon in City Hall, felt compelled to suspend chief, Colonel Raffensberger, and bust him back to major. He badly handled a local madam’s Black Book that contained names of Frederick’s movers and shakers. Furthermore, angered by comments coming from the local National Association of Colored People’s president Charlene Edmonds, Ray Raffensberger assigned officers to follow her. Finally, he was allowed to resign, not fired out of hand.

 

There followed an interim period. Capt. Harold Domer was made acting chief and the department became more involved in back-street politics. When he ran for county sheriff, in my newspaper column, I made every effort to oppose his candidacy, which included jobs for his “favorites.” His wife Barbara Domer and now Alderman Kelly Russell were parts of the package; Ms. Russell had been long the captain’s toady.

 

The department Kim Dine took over 10 years ago was at least corrupt politically. He was hired by Democratic Mayor Jennifer Daugherty in what I consider the single good act during her four years. Otherwise, she used her official powers to embarrass and hurt individuals, time after time. Two Republicans in City Hall have been impressed by the non-partisan efficiency he administered the police department. And they should have been.

 

To quote Ms. Heerbrandt’s Gazette article:

 

“Major crime is the lowest since 1991, despite a burgeoning population, according to statistics from the Department of Justice. Since 2002, Frederick’s population has grown not only in numbers, but diversity. The city’s Latino population surged 287 percent, while the number of residents overall jumped from 52,000 to 62,000.

 

“Under Dime’s stewardship, the Frederick Police Department achieved national accreditation in 2002 from the Commission on Accreditation in Law Enforcement. In 2009, CALEA named Frederick Police Department a ‘flagship agency,’ a model department.”

 

By coincidence, the day I learned of The Gazette piece, a downtown merchant complained to me about the police, never seeing them around. The man’s a bitter and cynical GOP opportunist. When Pushkin walked me across North Market, I ran into a two-man patrol. The one guy struck me as professionally pleasant; the other seemed stuck on arrogance from being a cop.

 

Since he was a puppy, the 14-year-old English pointer promenaded me on downtown streets twice a day, so I can ascertain daily what a difference Kim Dine makes. The chief visits merchants regularly and has wrought a sense of neighborhood to the main commercial section. With profound deference, I can only repeat the column’s headline:

 

“Hail to the Chief!”

 



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