Most Experienced Police Colonel Manages Smallest Portion of Department

Bryan P. Sears

Posted on December 16, 2011 at 4:16 pm

A shuffle of commanders in the Baltimore County Police Department has left its most experienced executive officer managing about three dozen police and civilian employees.

Col. Kim Ward, an 30-year veteran of the department who earns $180,148, will remain commander of the department’s Community Resources Bureau—a position she has held since 2006.

The assignment is part of a shuffling of commanders announced Dec. 7 by Chief Jim Johnson. The changes are meant to fill a number of vacancies created by the departure of top commanders earlier this year and some additional departures related to the county’s early retirement incentive program.

Part of that change includes the expected departures of two of the department’s three colonels—William Kelly and Michael McCleese—by the end of the year. Johnson appointed two majors as acting colonels.

Majs. Joseph Burris and Peter Evans will oversee the administrative-technical services and the operations bureaus of the department respectively. Burris has been on the force for 27 years. Evans is a 26-year veteran.

Elise Armacost, a police department spokeswoman, in an interview last week, said the moves were meant to ensure continuity “during an important transitional period for the department.”

The operations bureau that Evans will oversee is the largest of the department’s three bureaus and includes every major investigative arm in the agency. The administrative-technical services bureau, which will be Burris’ responsibility, is the second largest.

The community resources bureau includes the youthful offender programs. It oversaw the Police Athletic League program until that was transferred earlier this year to the county Department of Recreation and Parks.

Authorized strength of Baltimore County Police by Bureau. Actual strength is lower. Source: Baltimore County Police Department

Bureau Commander Authorized Strength
Operations Acting Col. Peter Evans 1,800
Administrative-Technical Services Acting Col. Joseph Burris 241
Community Resources Col. Kim Ward 57


Ward has served as commander of arguably every major section of the department including the operations bureau and human resources bureau that was folded into what is now administrative-technical services.

Ward oversaw the operations bureau from 2000 to 2006 when she was transferred to the human resources bureau.

The human resources bureau was reorganized and Ward was transferred in 2006.

That same year, Ward testified against the county in a federal disabilities lawsuit brought by William Blake, a current county policeman.

Blake sued after he was ordered to undergo medical tests after he testified on behalf of another officer who had a seizure.

Blake said he had also suffered from a single seizure in 1996. The county required Blake to undergo medical exams to establish his fitness for duty following his testimony on behalf of the other officer.

The county recently lost an appeal related to that case.

Ward declined to be interviewed for this article.

Could Ward be the victim of retaliation?

A number of current and former members of the police department who spoke privately think so.

Recently, the state Court of Special Appeals rejected an argument made by the county in which it claimed former County Attorney Virginia Barnhart violated professional ethics when she represented another former county employee in a pension case against the county. Again, some courthouse insiders said they believed the action against Barnhart was retaliatory in nature.

Armacost declined to answer questions about the Blake case or its relationship, if any, with Ward’s current assignment.

“Chief Johnson respects her experience,” said Armacost, adding that Johnson believes Ward has done a good job overseeing “an important but often overlooked section of the department.”

“(Ward) is part of our department’s plans going forward,” said Armacost.

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