Maurice T. Turner Jr., D.C. Mayor Marion Barry's nominee for city police chief, told a City Council committee yesterday that he plans to launch "an active campaign" against crime by putting more police officers on foot patrols.
Turner told the council's Judiciary Committee, which must first vote to confirm his nomination before the full council acts, that he also will use more civilians for some low-level police clerical functions in order to free more uniformed officers for street work.
"We can no longer be passive and remain the victims of crime in this city," Turner said in a prepared statement at the opening of confirmation hearings in the council chamber packed with friends, colleagues and supporters from law enforcement agencies and the community. "We must all pull together and mount an active campaign.
Turner said that response times to emergency calls probably will increase with the use of more foot patrols since most of the new walking police will be taken out of patrol cars and off motor scooters. He did not specify how many new foot-patrol officers will be deployed.
A host of present and former law enforcement officials, as well as community activists, took turns voicing praise for Turner, who is considered a shoo-in to be confirmed. He will be the city's second rank police chief when he replaces retiring Chief Burtell M. Jefferson, who is leaving office at the end of the month.
U.S. Attorney Charles F. C. Ruff called Turner "a man of integrity, a man who has been responsive to the concerns of the community." Ruff, the top federal prosecutor in the city, said, "I know that will work together for more effective law enforcement."
Also supporting Turner's nomination was Theodore R. Newman Jr., chief judge of the D.C. Court of Appeals, who made a one-sentence endorsement.
Bishop Smallwood E. Williams, founder and pastor of the Bible Way Church of Our Lord Worldwide Inc., told the panel, "I say amen to the confirmation."
Thomas K. Delahanty, the police officer was shot while on duty at the Washington Hilton during the March 30 assassination attempt on President Reagan, said he also supports Turner's nomination. Delahanty added, "I hope he'll have an open-door policy where we can come in and talk to him."
Turner also was endorsed by John R. Tydings, executive vice president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade; Melvin Boozer of the Gay Activist Alliance; and two former chiefs of police, Jerry Wilson and Maurice J. Cullinane.
The wide support voiced for Turner virtually ensures that Barry's first handpicked police chief should have a swift and trouble-free confirmation. The Judiciary Committee is expected to approve Turner's nomination at its meeting next Wednesday, in time to bring the confirmation up for a vote before the full council on June 30, the same day Jefferson is scheduled to step aside.
In his testimony, Turner also pledged to upgrade the department's computer system, make more effective use of information-sharing systems within the department and use other modern crime-fighting techniques to help police investigators trace patterns of crimes and track criminals more efficiently.
Turner traced his 23-year D.C. police career, in which he rose from a 4th Precinct officer to his current position as assistant chief in charge of the field operations bureau.
"During the past 23 years, my ambition has been to be the best police officer and administrator in Washington, D.C.," said Turner, a District native and graduate of Dunbar High School in Northwest Washington. "If confirmed, I will not lose sight of my background, my city or my heritage."