Capitol Police are counting on Frederick Police Chief Dine to provide a fresh set of eyes for the force of about 1,775 sworn officers and 370 non-sworn employees.
Kim C. Dine was tapped in 2002 to lead a city police department plagued by low staff morale, virulent union criticism and generally poor communication.
A decade later, Dine is poised to take the helm of another law enforcement agency suffering from many of the same maladies: the Capitol Police.
Dine, currently the police chief in Frederick, Md., will become the new Capitol Police chief in mid-December. The 37-year law enforcement veteran takes over a 185-year-old force in need of a boost following the June resignation of Chief Phillip Morse and still fractured by the legacy he left behind.
Dine’s record of revitalizing the Frederick department after a period of unease was no doubt a factor in his selection.
In an interview with Roll Call after his appointment was announced in mid-November, Dine said he comes to the Capitol Police with an open mind.
“I have no preconceived notions about changes or things that need to be done,” he said. “I’m not interested in making changes just to make them. Each police agency has its own unique culture. ... I try to talk less and listen more.”
Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer, a former Capitol Police chief, has known Dine since they worked together for the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department. Dine was commander of the 1st District, which includes the Capitol campus, from 1998 to 2001, and considers Gainer a mentor.
Gainer said Dine’s even temperament will serve him well in dealing with the politics and personalities of a force charged with protecting 535 members and their staff.
“He’s methodical, deliberative and inclusive, and those are successful traits to have up on the Hill,” Gainer said. “I was too rambunctious and impatient sometimes. Kim’s approach, I think, will create a tempo that will work well.”
The 59-year-old native of Mamaroneck, N.Y., began his law enforcement career in 1975 with D.C.’s MPD, where, in addition to serving as 1st District commander, Dine held positions including assistant police chief. He became acquainted early in life with law enforcement because his father was a newspaper reporter who started out on the police beat.
In Frederick, Dine was credited with bringing down the crime rate to a 20-year low, easing racial tensions and strengthening channels of communication.
“Frederick had political problems, race issues,” Gainer said. “Kim unraveled that.”
Dine became Frederick police chief after the resignation of Ray Raffensberger. Under Raffensberger’s watch, officers clashed with the city’s minority communities and faced accusations of racial profiling. The Frederick Fraternal Order of Police threatened a no-confidence vote against his leadership.
Dine’s arrival did create some anxiety within the ranks, said Kelly Russell, who served the Frederick Police Department from 1983 to 2005 and is now a city alderman.
“There was a lot of trepidation about someone not from the inside coming in from the outside, not knowing the culture,” Russell recalled. “Everyone had that sort of fear, but [Dine] came in here and ... I knew instantly that this was going to be something completely different than what we’d had before.”
In the years that followed, Dine repaired relationships that had been broken during Raffensberger’s tenure. He introduced the concept of “community policing,” emphasizing face-to-face contact, a holistic approach to crime-solving and a sense that everyone has a shared stake in keeping the peace.
In 2009, the Frederick News-Post partnered with the police department to regularly print information regarding Frederick’s “most wanted” criminals; by April 2012, 200 of them had been arrested.
Dine also opened himself up to the media to share his perspective on issues. He even suggested he might like to change the Frederick Police Department uniform policy to let officers wear shorts in the sweltering summer heat.
The Capitol Police’s current situation is not nearly as grim as Frederick’s was, but some similarities signal that Dine might have been picked for his experience with rebuilding bridges.
Insiders say Morse, the former Capitol Police chief, was notoriously closemouthed beyond his inner circle and fostered a business-as-usual approach to decision-making, culminating in a 2008 union-commissioned survey that gave the chief overwhelmingly low marks for his leadership style.
When Morse’s deputy, Tom Reynolds, was tapped to serve as acting chief, he inherited a police force rife with ill will. Officers accused Capitol Division supervisors of enforcing made-up policies, and the union cried foul over a 1,000-page packet of new directives that Morse signed off on shortly before his departure.
Reynolds, who was in the running to take on the police chief position permanently, was ultimately able to help close some old wounds and show all parties that a severe communication breakdown had led to some of the most crippling tensions.
But he was passed over in favor of an experienced officer who can provide a fresh set of eyes for the force of about 1,775 sworn officers and 370 non-sworn employees.
“The Capitol Police doesn’t need an upheaval. This is a good, solid department and we need a steady hand to continue in that direction,” Gainer said. “But we need someone who has the perspective not to say, ‘This is the way we’ve always done it.’”
Dine holds a bachelor’s degree from Washington College in Chestertown, Md., and a master’s degree from American University. During his time at American, he studied abroad in England at the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in London. Later, he graduated from the FBI National Academy.
According to Frederick Mayor Randy McClement, Dine will continue to live in Frederick with his wife, a former NASA scientist. The couple has two college-age daughters.