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May 5, 2009

My Kind of Chief

Roy Meachum

Kim Dine was a stranger until ex-Mayor Jennifer Dougherty hired him to run the Frederick Police Department. We did not rush into each other's arms. I was a noted critic of his new boss. After experiencing predecessor "Ray" Raffensberger's need to manipulate, I took a wait and see stance.


The chief and I first met at a Kiwanis' luncheon; he was the featured speaker. And I accepted an invitation purposely to do what Europeans mean by "sniffing" him. The reason to use the word is because that's what I wanted to do: measure such intangibles as sincerity, openness and honesty. He more than qualified on all counts. He had a "soft" voice but more than enough determination to overcome that. He's a quiet, stubborn, proud man.


He once worked for a very staunch Washington friend. Metropolitan Police Chief Maurice (said Morris) John Joseph Cullinane and I did a televised interview every week. He was inordinately polite, not ostentatious and very approachable for any and all. Kim Dine was in his mould. Their MPD careers overlapped briefly; 31 years ago "Mo" Cullinane retired, because of a knee that had been smashed during an anti-war demonstration.


It also turned out both the new chief’s father and a brother were journalists; I took that to mean this tight-lipped cop would treat reporters with respect, while not opening up about the Frederick department's cases or problems. That was dead-on right.


It also turned out the ex-MPD assistant chief was politically savvy before he took over the desk in the courthouse. Somehow or the other, he was fully aware of Mr. Raffensberger's lack of attention that permitted Capt. Harold Domer to make the department subservient to him, and his wife, Lt. Barbara Domer. The couple expected the husband to slide into the chief's office with his wife by his side. Ms. Dougherty preempted that possibility by appointing Kim Dine.


Meanwhile, back at the courthouse, the new chief waited out the inevitable resignations. The captain turned in his railroad tracks to become the county's chief dogcatcher, as head of animal welfare. After waiting in vain and discomfort to replace her husband as deputy chief, Barbara Domer was handed a job handling courthouse security. Mr. Dine reduced controversy further by authorizing the F.B.I. Academy for Lt. Patrick O'Brien, the Domers' foremost critic, who almost immediately retired. Seemingly a tactical genius when it came to departmental politics, he allowed the dust to settle before naming his present team. Based on prior knowledge and experience, I couldn't be happier for Fredericktonians and their city.


After nearly eight years, the chief can look back with great satisfaction. I have no idea where the crime rate stands right now. And really doesn't matter. His stewardship has brought peace to the streets, not really seen since Ron Young was mayor. And that was a long way back.


Chief Kim Dine has a corner on "protecting and serving," which has benefited the entire Frederick community. Thank you, chief.


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