Edward Jack Spurlock, 64, a former deputy chief with the D.C. police department and founder of the department's Repeat Offender Project, died Oct. 15 of colon cancer at his home in Pomfret.
Mr. Spurlock's 85-member task force hit the streets in 1982 on the trail of so-called career criminals, including drug dealers, armed robbers, murder-for-hire gunmen and gang members. The effort was part of a package of crime-fighting moves announced by then-Mayor Marion Barry. Mr. Spurlock, a police captain at the time, said the types of people his officers intended to follow were those who committed crimes with "such a high frequency" that "we should witness within a day or two the committing of a crime."
When CBS's "60 Minutes" ran a feature on the Repeat Offender Project in 1985, Washington Post TV writer Tom Shales noted that his men "seem, or are made to seem, a shaggy, if dogged, lot. They're not all perfect physical specimens, as the camera and correspondent Ed Bradley note; a few are lucky that bulletproof vests come in extra large."
Mr. Spurlock explained to Bradley that -- in Shales's words -- "the best busts are accomplished with the largest possible horde of cops, so when they descend on a house, armed with shotguns, they're an awesome display of high-profile collective kinetics."
The program enjoyed a measure of success, and Mr. Spurlock consulted with police departments across the country about setting up similar programs. It was disbanded after Isaac Fulwood Jr. became police chief in 1989.
Don Lyddane, a former member of the unit, said that Mr. Spurlock was "good at putting squads together," people from different police units with different areas of expertise. He also was good, Lyddane said, at motivating people. "He made people think they were doing the most important job in the world when they came to work."
Ed Spurlock was born in Batesburg, S.C., and grew up wanting to be a police officer. He graduated from Seneca High School in 1959 and joined the Marine Corps that year. He was stationed at the American Embassy in Paris.
He received his discharge from the Marines in 1963 and joined the Capitol Police Force, where he worked until joining the Metropolitan Police Department in 1968. He became a captain and commander of sector 111 in the 2nd District in 1979. He was an inspector and commander of the Repeat Offender Project from 1982 to 1988 and was named deputy chief and commander of the 3rd District in 1987.
He served as president of the Police Management Association from 1983 to 1989.
He received an undergraduate degree in the administration of justice from American University in 1972 and a master's degree in general administration from the University of Maryland in 1994.
Mr. Spurlock chose to retire in 1991, rather than challenge an impending 20-day suspension for awarding two lieutenants additional compensatory time for working extra shifts.
The proposed suspension enraged community leaders throughout Mr. Spurlock's district, which included Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan and Logan Circle. They accused Fulwood of forcing out Spurlock. The Washington Post noted that Mr. Spurlock "was not considered to be close to Fulwood."
"It's better for everyone," Mr. Spurlock told The Washington Post. "This will give the chief the opportunity to appoint a new commander, someone who could possibly do a better job and who has the support to do it."
After his retirement, Mr. Spurlock founded Spurlock and Associates Inc., an investigative and consulting firm. He also became a licensed real estate agent and raised flowers, trees and shrubs as a certified Charles County master gardener.
Survivors include his wife of 37 years, Pauline Charney Spurlock of Pomfret; two children, Lisa Marie Spurlock and Edward J. Spurlock Jr., both of Crofton; a brother; and three sisters.