For the third time in less than two months, the Baltimore Police Department is looking for a new director of training - but they say the current search was always part of their plan.
After a shooting at an unauthorized training drill in February that seriously injured a recruit, the department suspended and removed the commander of the unit, Maj. Eric Russell. His replacement, Maj. Joe Smith, surprised the top brass by informing them that he was retiring just days later. Quickly, the agency announced it had moved Lt. Col. Ross Buzzuro into the position.
There's now a job posting for the position, uploaded today, on the website of website of the International Chiefs of Police. But Judy Pal, chief of staff for Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts, said it was always the plan that Buzzuro would hold the position for a few months while they looked for a long-term solution. She said Buzzuro is not leaving the agency, and would move back into operations.
Why the six week wait to post the job if the department always intended to find another commander? Pal said the agency needed approval to get approval for the position in the budget.
At the time of his appointment, Buzzuro gave no indication that he was merely keeping the seat warm.
Here's what I wrote after speaking to him that Friday:
Police moved swiftly to find a replacement, appointing Lt. Col. Ross Buzzuro, 27-year veteran, to the post. He is the fourth person to be named to the position in the past year.
"We shouldn't miss a beat," Buzzuro said in a brief interview.
Buzzuro said his only experience at the academy was when he went through as a recruit. But he is a respected commander with experience running the Northern District. Until Friday, he was overseeing the special operations section, which includes the SWAT team. He also has served as ethics commander of the department's internal investigations section.
What the agency did say was that Smith would help Buzzuro with a transition.
At the beginning of 2012, the agency made what was then a rare move of reaching outside and hiring John King, a veteran Montgomery County police commander, to lead training efforts. But he resigned in June. Russell was abruptly placed in the position amid a spate in shootings in the Southwest District, where he was the major.
Last month, Baltimore County authorities indicted training instructor William Scott Kern on charges of second-degree assault and reckless endangerment in the shooting at the former Rosewood hospital site.