John C. Le­wandowski

North­east­ern District commander was known for his com­mu­nity polic­ing ini­tia­tives and crime anal­y­sis

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES - By Fred­er­ick N. Ras­mussen fras­mussen@balt­sun.com

John C. Le­wandowski, a dec­o­rated Bal­ti­more po­lice major and for­mer commander of the North­east­ern District who was known for com­mu­nity polic­ing ini­tia­tives and crime anal­y­sis, died Sun­day of a stroke at Bal­ti­more Wash­ing­ton Med­i­cal Cen­ter.

The for­mer long­time Lo­cust Point res­i­dent was 77.

“John al­ways went out of his way to help peo­ple. He had great po­lice and peo­ple knowl­edge, a great sense of right and wrong, and a strong moral­ity,” said John Reintzell, a re­tired Bal­ti­more po­lice major and long­time friend.

“He’s a cop’s cop,” said Jerry Heid, a re­tired city po­lice pa­trol­man. “When he was commander of North­east­ern District, he made it the place to be.”

The son of Ted Le­wandowski, a long­shore­man, and Anna Le­wandowski, a home­maker, John Car­roll Le­wandowski was born in Bal­ti­more and raised in Lo­cust Point.

He at­tended Mount Saint Joseph High School in Irv­ing­ton and grad­u­ated in 1957 from City Col­lege. He served in the Navy, then joined the Bal­ti­more Po­lice De­part­ment in 1960 as a foot pa­trol­man as­signed to the Cen­tral District.

“He then be­came a plain­clothes de­tec­tive in Cen­tral District and was told to go and find bur­glars — and he did,” Mr. Reintzell said. “He knew how they op­er­ated.”

Mr. Le­wandowski ad­vanced through de­part­men­tal ranks. He was pro­moted to sergeant in 1968, lieu­tenant in 1974 and cap­tain three years later, as­signed to the North­east­ern District.

He be­came a major in 1982, then commander in 1984 of the district, where he served un­til 1992. He was then tapped to head the de­part­ment’s prop­erty divi­sion, and re­tired from that post in 1994.

While work­ing full time, Mr. Le­wandowski stud­ied busi­ness at night at what is now Loy­ola Univer­sity Mary­land and earned a bach­e­lor’s de­gree.

His in­stincts were for crime anal­y­sis and pre­ven­tion.

“He had great the­o­ries on crime and where crime was most likely to hap­pen,” Mr. Reintzell said. “He knew where bur­glars sold their [stolen] wares, which was never in their neigh­bor­hood. They’d walk two or three neigh­bor­hoods away.

“He was a very as­tute pro­fes­sional and al­ways two or three steps ahead of the rest of us,” he said.

Mr. Le­wandowski could be a de­mand­ing leader, yet he was able to get peo­ple to work to­gether.

“He wanted to teach peo­ple, and he’d take them un­der his wings,” Mr. Reintzell said. “He was fair, but he kept you ac­count­able.”

“He was a fun guy, but when it was time to work ... there was no time for play, and you knew it,” Mr. Heid said. “He never asked peo­ple to do what he wouldn’t do — and that’s why he was such an in­spi­ra­tion to so many peo­ple and very sup­port­ive of me.

“I al­ways wanted to be like him,” Mr. Heid said. “He may have been my boss, but he was al­ways my friend.”

Jim Kelly, a mem­ber of the city po­lice force for 34 years, was a col­league and friend, and said Mr. Le­wandowski “had quite a mil­i­tary bear­ing.”

“He took a lik­ing to me, and I was al­ways im­pressed by his lead­er­ship skills,” said Mr. Kelly, who is as­signed to the de­part­ment’s ca­nine unit. “Some­times I would drive him, and if he saw an of­fi­cer sit­ting along­side the road sip­ping a soda, that meant to him that they were not pa­trolling as much as they could.”

He said Mr. Le­wandowski was in­no­va­tive in fos­ter­ing a vis­i­ble pres­ence when he was at the North­east­ern District.

“He be­lieved in com­mu­nity polic­ing and putting foot squads on the streets — not just to check on busi­nesses but in res­i­den­tial areas where they got to know the peo­ple,” Mr. Kelly said. “That was his im­per­a­tive.”

In a pre­pared eu­logy, Mr. Reintzell said Mr. Le­wandowski brought a “sooth­ing” in­flu­ence to ev­ery sit­u­a­tion, as well as “rea­son, ra­tio­nal­ity and courage.”

He re­called Mr. Le­wandowski as “a mus­cu­lar guy who lifted weights and ran three miles a day. He was into phys­i­cal fit­ness.”

How­ever, at age 46, Mr. Le­wandowski suf­fered a stroke in 1985 that left him par­a­lyzed on his right side.

“He had to re­qual­ify to keep his job, which meant he had to learn to shoot with his left hand and write with his left hand,” said a daugh­ter, Anne Marie Ross­bach of Lo­cust Point. “He was a fighter and never com­plained. He was de­ter­mined to get back to his job.”

A Pasadena res­i­dent since 2005, Mr. Le­wandowski en­joyed singing and danc­ing, and also crafted fur­ni­ture.

“Even though he had use of only one hand, he built the most beau­ti­ful fur­ni­ture in his base­ment,” Mr. Reintzell said.

He was a com­mu­ni­cant of Our Lady of Good Coun­sel Ro­man Catholic Church, 1532 E. Fort Ave., Lo­cust Point, where a Mass of Chris­tian burial will be of­fered at 11 a.m. to­day.

In ad­di­tion to his daugh­ter, Mr. Le­wandowski is sur­vived by his wife of 57 years, the for­mer Rose Marie Win­ter­ling; four other daugh­ters, Kathie Richard­son, Jean­nie Mack and Mary Stylc, all of Pasadena, and Margie Dorsey of Lo­cust Point; a brother, Joseph P. Le­wandowski of David­sonville; eight grand­chil­dren; and a great­grand­son. John C. Le­wandowski “al­ways went out of his way to help peo­ple,” a long­time friend said.

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