By Justin George, The Baltimore Sun
7:24 PM EDT, May 6, 2013
The Baltimore Police Department tapped one of its lawyers as the new head of internal affairs, saying Rodney Hill's experience as an officer and his recent turn as a prosecutor of police misconduct cases give him the credibility to lead a group charged with restoring public trust.
Hill, 50, replaces Grayling Williams, who left in March to accept a position with the Pennsylvania attorney general's office. Since April 2012, Hill has been assigned to the Police Department through the city's Law Department, providing legal advice to internal investigators, prosecuting police officers at internal disciplinary hearing boards and representing the department in court.
"We are extremely fortunate that we were able to go 'in-house' for this position," Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said in a statement.
Besides his legal expertise, Batts said Hill "brings a working officer's insight to the job." Hill began his career as a Montgomery County police officer, rising to the rank of lieutenant while pursuing a law degree. In January 2006, he became a Baltimore County assistant state's attorney. Police said he participated in more than 350 trials.
In 2010, Hill joined Morgan State University's general counsel team; he accepted a position with the city Law Department last year.
Williams served in the position for little more than a year after then-commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III hired him from the Department of Homeland Security's counter-narcotics office — a rare outside hire made after a series of scandals tarnished the department's reputation.
Among notable misconduct cases Hill now takes over is the recent suspension of four officers who worked in the Northwest District with Detective Kendell Richburg, who pleaded guilty in March to an armed drug conspiracy charge in federal court. Police and prosecutors said Richburg and a confidential informant worked closely, planting evidence and making up eyewitness accounts to raise the number of arrests Richburg made. In return, prosecutors said, Richburg shielded the informant from police while he dealt drugs.
Sources have said the suspensions of the four officers were related to the Richburg case, but police declined to identify the officers or disclose why they were disciplined.
Since Batts was hired last fall, he has publicly vowed to improve the department's standing through transparency and by aggressively rooting out of misconduct.
"I will go to the mat for an honest and ethical officer who has been mischaracterized or maligned," Batts said. "However, this department has absolutely no tolerance for officers who abuse their powers or undermine the trust of our community. The pride of this department, and good men and women who work tirelessly every day to ensure our community's safety, deserve nothing less."
Hill will report directly to Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez, a recent hire from the Los Angeles Police Department, who oversees the Professional Standards and Accountability Bureau. Hill will make $110,000 a year, police spokesman Sgt. Eric Kowalczyk said.
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