Does Mr. Baker have some non-public information about Chief Hylton that makes firing necessary?
Does Mr. Baker have a superior candidate waiting in the wings?
If the answer to both questions is NO, then it seems to me that making a change now is a dumb move. If the answer is yes, Mr. Baker ought to be keep his promises about transparency and tell us what is going on.
Chief Hylton has done an adequate, if not superior, job under difficult circumstances.
- Violent crime is down.
- The number of individuals killed by police officers is way down, about a quarter of the rate in the last full year under the previous chief
- Crooked and brutal police are being taken off the streets and held accountable, a significant change for the better
- There have been fewer high-profile incidents on his watch involving police storm troopers assaulting innocent people and shooting their dogs
- The public affairs office has provided much greater transparency than under the previous chief.
When police chiefs have been sacked in previous changes of administration the replacements have been no better and frequently worse.
There are rumors that Mr. Baker plans a nationwide search for another chief. Looking at the experience of the school and library boards, nationwide searches most often result in hiring problem people someone else wants to get rid of, including one person now in federal prison and one who was fired for using the "N" word and other transgressions.
Given the history of hiring by various Prince George's County officials, I have little or no confidence that Mr. Baker will find a candidate who actually performs better than Chief Hylton has. And there are always the risks that he'll hire someone worse and that things will go to pot while the position is vacant.
So why fire Chief Hylton now, without a superior candidate ready to take over?
- The two most logical explanations seem to be:Mr, Baker wants to make a big show of doing something, never mind if it makes matters worse, or
- Mr. Baker has decided to come down on the side of the police union and crooks and brutes in the department and get rid of the chief before he gets rid of more of the bad apples.