Roland Butler was sworn in Tuesday as the first Black leader of the Maryland State Police in its nearly 90-year history.
The ceremony for Butler, who retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel earlier this year, wasn’t a sure thing.
Several Black senators and leaders of the Coalition of Black Maryland State Troopers criticized Butler for his time at the agency.
They blamed Butler, who was in a position of leadership within the agency, for failing to do enough about complaints of racism and disparate treatment of Black officers when it came to promotions and discipline.
A delay in a vote on Butler triggered a flurry of meetings between Butler and other senators. Eventually Butler was confirmed in a deal that included a requirement for the new superintendent to submit a series of reports to the legislature. The Senate withheld $250,000 from the department’s budget until those reports are delivered.
Prior to Butler’s swearing in, there was a brief conversation between Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller and Appointments Secretary Tisha Edwards about whether or not hugging would be permitted. At an earlier event featuring dozens of appointees being sworn in, Edwards declared a “no hugging zone” in an effort to speed up the ceremony.
On Tuesday, Edwards approved the physical contact.
“We worked hard to get him,” she said.
Headed across the pond
Gov. Wes Moore (D) and three top aides are traveling to England on Tuesday evening to take part in the 20th Skoll World Forum in Oxford. Moore is scheduled to deliver the keynote address Thursday, striking his familiar theme of commitment to service.
The Skoll Foundation, based in Palo Alto, California, is holding the conference this week — the first in-person meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic — in its continuing effort to promote social entrepreneurship and recognize innovators who drive social progress.
In addition to the conference, Moore will take part in a trade mission, meeting with UK companies Friday in an effort draw business to Maryland, his aides said.
The governor will travel with two of his deputy chiefs of staff, Jonny Dorsey and Shaina Hernandez, and Krista Broadie Jeter, the governors’ director of advance and protocol. Moore will return Saturday and be back in Annapolis in the afternoon.
The cost of the trip was estimated to be $14,200, gubernatorial aides said.
Ambidextrous bill signing
Bill signings are a common occurrence following a 90-day legislative session.
What is less common is a governor who can — and did — sign bills with both hands.
Moore started Tuesday’s event signing bills with his left hand.
At some point, he switched and began signing bills with his right hand. He changed up throughout the balance of the event.
It’s not immediately known how many of Maryland’s chief executives were ambidextrous. Chances are few — if any — of the state’s 63 governors since 1777 had the ability.
Only about 1% of the population is considered to exhibit a “true” ambidexterity — meaning they have no dominant hand at all, according to the American Psychological Association.