We’ve all heard the old adage about a captain going down with his ship – a symbol of his being ultimately responsible for whatever the hell happened on the vessel to make it start sinking in the first place.
But there’s another nautically-themed response to save a sinking ship, literal or otherwise, that has become more fashionable in modern times – mutiny.
At issue is the tenuous position of Randy Rudy, chief of the Aberdeen Police Department for the last 8 years, who was strongly aligned with former mayor Fred Simmons. With Simmons out and new mayor Mike Bennett in, Rudy’s future is in question. Even though both come from a background of service with the Maryland State Police, Bennett may see Rudy as one of the last remaining reminders of Simmons’ two years as mayor. It wasn’t Simmons who hired Rudy, but it was Simmons, himself a gun-carrying pilot, who empowered the chief and gave him the funding and support to kick Aberdeen crime-fighting into high gear.
It might have been the best achievement of Simmons’ political career and that might be precisely why Bennett and his political adviser and Simmons-enemy Art Helton want to tear it apart.
Don’t let it be misunderstood, there are problems within the Aberdeen Police Department – serious problems. At least one officer, Joe Bray, was recently fired after a series of incidents and demotions. The Municipal Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 128, which is helmed largely by APD officers, has butted heads with the new city administration. Former city policeman Rick Denu, who unsuccessfully ran for city council after resigning from the agency, was appointed to Bennett’s transition team – a move that led to the FOP asking for his removal and advising ADP officers they didn’t have to participate in interviews with the
But how much, if any, of the problems with the Aberdeen Police Department could and should be blamed on Rudy? And is the talk about canning Rudy just the sort of mutiny that pins its hopes of ridding a group of its woes on a ceremonial decapitation?
We’ve seen this before, time and time again, but most recently and perhaps with most familiarity locally through the firing of Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick on Dec. 31.
Much like Billick, Rudy seems to have lost control of his team.
While APD may not have endured a string of embarrassing defeats like the Ravens did in finishing 5-11 this season, the law enforcement agency is certainly rife with uncertainty.
Two of its shining stars, the Rapid Response Team and a city surveillance camera program, recently won awards from Gov. Martin O’Malley for progressive policing, but may not even be continued under the Bennett regime.
As the Ravens’ plodded through their disappointing season, which included a streak of nine straight losses, the cry for Billick’s firing soon became an overpowering howl. But what good does it do to fire a head coach, or a chief, when it’s the player, or officers, whose actions largely determine if the team will ultimately be successful?
The effect may be purely placebo, but if it increases morale and builds team solidarity is it worth doing? Can forcing the captain to walk the plank really save the sinking ship, regardless of how many holes are in the hull?
Rudy’s contract is up for renewal next month, but a simple majority of three votes from the mayor and council can end his tenure with Aberdeen, which began in February 2000 (as seen in the minutes from that meeting below).
The rumor, even before Bennett was elected mayor, was that Aberdeen Police Captain Henry Trabert was going to be replace Rudy, even if only temporarily until a permanent chief can be found. But word from some within the APD is that Trabert might be worse for morale than Rudy.
There is also word circulating that Rudy may have been given some sort of contract extension by Simmons before he left office, but that sort of thing is just hearsay unless or until it can be tracked down.
So with the Simmons season over the question remains, for the good of Aberdeen and its police department, should Rudy stay or should he go?
The following are the minutes to the February 14, 2000 meeting of the Aberdeen City Council (during which Rudy was sworn in as police chief):
*ABERDEEN CITY COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES*
*February 14, 2000*
PRESENT: Mayor Wilson, Councilwoman Fender, Councilmen Bradley and Kupferman
ALSO PRESENT: Mr. Dacey, Mr. Robertson, Mrs. Linda Wilson, Deputy Chief
Lawson and Chief Rudy ABSENT: Councilman Tucker
1. Prayer – Reverend Don Pollard – New Life Fellowship Church of God
The council meeting was opened with prayer led by Reverend Don Pollard,
followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by Councilman Bradley.
2. Approve minutes of January 24, 2000 meeting
Councilman Kupferman motioned to approve the minutes of January 24, 2000,
with noted correction of
Mrs. Bantrums name to “Mrs. Bantum”, seconded by Councilwoman Fender. VOTE:
YES-4: NO-0; ABSENT-1.
1. Proclamation – “Black History Month”
Mayor Wilson read a proclamation declaring, February as Black History Month
in the City of Aberdeen. Mrs. Janice Grant and Mr. Jenkins Odoms, of the
NAACP accepted the proclamation from Mayor Wilson.
Mrs. Grant thanked the Mayor and Council for their continuing support of
Black History Month. Mrs. Grant gave a brief history of how the NAACP
developed, and that the commitment of the NAACP is to help all people. Mrs.
Grant invited the citizens to attend a meeting on February 24th, at 6:00 p.m.
at the Public Library.
Mr. Odoms thanked the Mayor and Council for inviting him to represent the
NAACP, and to help in the continuing support of celebrating Black History
2. Proclamation – “Kids with Heart Day: Congenital Heart Defect Awareness
Mayor Wilson read a proclamation declaring February 14, 2000 as “Kids with
Heart Day” Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Day” in the City of Aberdeen.
SWEARING IN CEREMONY
1. Swearing in Ceremony – Chief of Police
Mayor Wilson performed the duty of swearing in the new Chief of Police,
Chief Randy Rudy.
Chief Rudy thanked all of his fellow police associates from the Maryland
State Police, the members of the Aberdeen Police Department, the Mayor and
Council, friends and relatives for being present at this ceremony. Chief
Rudy stated that it was truly a pleasure to accept this position of Chief of
Police in the City of Aberdeen.
Chief Rudy stated that there are many things that can be implemented to help
the quality of life issues within the community and that the Police
Department will be starting tomorrow with the “Adopt a School Program” where
our police officers will start visiting each of the schools within the City
of Aberdeen, and become acquainted with the staff and students of each
school. As well, the police department will be embarking on the Community
Policing Pro-ram, which will be kicked off with a two-day seminar being
conducted on March 6t” and 7th conducted by the Mid-Atlantic Regional
Community Policing Institute.
Chief Rudy commented that the Police Department will have a new Headquarters
soon, and with the building of the Ripken Stadium the police department will
be engaged in many activities.
Chief Rudy pledged to make sure the police department and its officers are
fair, just and are as
professional as they can be. Chief Rudy also asked the members of community
to partner with the police department.
Chief Rudy introduced his wife Mary and thanked her for all of her support.
Mayor Wilson stated that the interviewing process was very grueling and that
the Mayor and Council are sure that Chief Rudy knows the challenges that
face him. Mayor Wilson stated that the HotSpot Program will start next week
and with those resources more people will be able to be assisted.
Councilman Bradley welcomed both Chief Rudy and his family to Aberdeen.
Councilman Kupferman echoed Mr. Bradley and stated he supported the Chief
Councilwoman Fender stated she was pleased that Chief Rudy was here, and
that she felt the city has a good Police Chief, and good policemen and asked
that the community help the police department.
Councilwoman Fender stated that the Police Department needs the community’s
assistance in fighting crime.
Mayor Wilson also thanked Deputy Chief Lawson for all of his assistance as
Acting Chief of Police and commended him on a fine job.
Mayor Wilson asked everyone to meet the new Chief after the meeting.
BUSINESS FROM COUNCIL/COUNCIL PRESIDENT: None
Reverend Pollard thanked everyone for their support of the Millennium Prayer
Mr. Dare asked where he would be able to get his season tickets to the
baseball games? Mayor Wilson stated that the office is located at 200 N.
Philadelphia Blvd, next to the Curry Agency. Mr. Dare stated he also
attended the National Housing- Corporation hearing, and was pleased to see
Mayor Wilson and Mrs. Brock at the hearing.
Lt. Colonel David Czorapinski, from the State Police congratulated Chief
Rudy on his new position and commented that it will not be easy to fill* *the
void. The members of the State Police are very proud of him, and will
support him in any way that they can.
Mrs. Ruth Ann Young asked if there was any information that Mayor Wilson
could provide the residents on the National Housing Corporation Hearing?
Mayor Wilson stated that the judge listened to all the testimony, and that
it would take him about 2 months to make a decision.
Mrs. Young asked what judge heard the case? Mayor Wilson stated Judge
Mrs. Young commented that she was pleased with the selection of the Police
Chief. Mrs. Young also asked when a public meeting would be held to update
the residents on the stadium? Mayor Wilson stated that would be done in
approximately 30 days. This would be a separate meeting.