D.C. Mayor Marion Barry went before an organization of high-ranking black police officials last night to declare his public support of Police Chief Burtell M. Jefferson.
"I want you all to give our chief of police a big hand," Barry exclaimed, ". . . he's our chief. That's our chief, Burtell Jefferson." The crowd attending the third annual dinner for the Organization of Black Police Officials jumped to its feet as Barry led the applause.
"He's not only our chief, he's my chief. I'm all right with him, and he's all right with me," Barry declared, as Jefferson, smiling broadly, sat on the stage at St. Benedict the Moor Church, 320 21st St. NE.
In recent weeks, there have been numerous reports that Jefferson, a holdover appointee from Mayor Walter Washington's administration, is upset and angry at what he considered interference in his department by Barry. Some friends of Jefferson said he has considered resigning.
Last night, Barry noted that he had fired or reassigned several department heads. He said that Jefferson is among three department heads whom Barry has asked the city council to confirm in their current posts later this week.
Barry's comments came after Police Inspector Isaac "Ike" Fulwood Jr., president of the black officials group, read a strongly worded defense of Jefferson in front of Barry and City Council Chairman Arrington Dixon.