On Monday, Thomas C. Frazier was appointed “Compliance Director” by U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson. In this position, Mr. Frazier will have complete authority over the Oakland Police Department, including the ability to set in motion the dismissal of the current police chief, Howard Jordan.
Given Thomas C. Frazier’s alleged track record as police chief in Baltimore, Chief Jordan should be concerned. Then-Chief Frazier was considered a racist top cop, who punished black police officers to a much harsher degree than their white counterparts.
The Baltimore police chief job was Chief Frazier’s last and highest-ranking one before moving into positions related to consulting on the management of police departments, and director of the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing.
Thomas C. Frazier was Baltimore Police Chief from 1994 to 1999. During that time, Chief Frazier was the focus of searing criticism from Baltimore’s black officers that was summed up with one word: racism.
According to The Baltimore Sun, In 1997, Col. Ronald L. Daniel then the highest-ranking African-American on the Baltimore force, was suspended by Chief Frazier, or more formally, Commissioner Frazier, for “complaining about racism within the department and suggesting the chief should be fired for inadequate attention to the matter.”
The matter escalated from the claims by black police officers that Baltimore’s internal disciplinary procedures are biased for white officers, and against black officers. Moreover, the Baltimore Human Relations Commission backed that claim.
Eventually, and at the behest of then-Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, Commissioners Frazier and Daniel held a joint news conference, which appeared to resolve the problem, but while it was the right step at the time in the relationship of the two professionals, it did not do that for overall conditions for African American police officers in Baltimore at the time.
In an effort to change, Frazier became more sensitive to matters of diversity, even ordering the removal of a mural from the lobby of the then-new Baltimore Police Annex Building because it had all white male police officers.
What Will Thomas C. Frazier Do To The Oakland Police Department?
In trying to form a template for what Mr. Frazier may do to the Oakland Police Department with the almost dictatorial power he has been given, it’s important to look at the last top cop job he held – that was in Baltimore. Mr. Frazier’s other positions since then give no clue regarding how he would handle the Oakland Police Department.
Since Judge Henderson has made Mr. Frazier the “cop over the top cop in Oakland,” it’s fair to look back at what he did in Baltimore and how that impacted the police force, particularly, African American police officers. It’s not a good history, but in the end, it does appear that a more sensitive and fair Thomas C. Frazier was forged from that experience.