Settlement For Officer Kept A Secret

Mayor Didn't Tell Council He Paid Policeman's Claim

April 26, 1991|By Paul Shread | Paul Shread,Staff writer

Most Annapolis alderman were surprised to learn that Mayor Alfred A.Hopkins had agreed to a settlement with a city police officer last year without informing them.

Hopkins, however, said the officer waspaid money he had coming to him, which the mayor said didn't requireCity Council approval.

Council members learned in closed session Monday night that Hopkins had agreed to a settlement last year with Officer Chandler Powell,who spent eight months on desk duty while department and state investigators looked into the operations of his unit, the now-defunct Delta Force drug squad.

Charges against Powell were dropped after the former head of Delta Force, Sgt. Robert E. Beans, was cleared last May by a police trial board of charges he broke departmental rules. Thetwo officers were returned to street duty.

"I was surprised and bewildered as to why it was done and why we were not informed," said Alderman Wayne C. Turner, R-Ward 6. "I plan on finding out more about it. It was certainly the best-kept secret I've seen."

"Not only should the council have been involved, as with the Beans case, but a settlement in a case this controversial should have been made public," said Alderman Carl O. Snowden, D-Ward 5, one of two council members who knew about the settlement when it was reached.

The other was Alderman John R. Hammond, R-Ward 1.

Hopkins said he agreed to pay Powell about $2,000 -- the differential between his desk duty pay and the pay he would have received on his regular night patrol shift.

Beans has asked the city for $80,000 -- the amount of his legal fees plus damages. In the closed session Monday night, the council refused to discuss a settlement with Beans until he files a lawsuit.

"Officer Powell specifically asked for one thing -- that he be reimbursed for the shift differential he would have made," Hopkins said. "He wasprevented from earning his normal pay. I consider that a just cause.With Sergeant Beans, it was a specific request for $80,000. I don't think the mayor alone should make the decision on this one."

When asked if he would make the same agreement with Beans, Hopkins said hewouldn't comment because Beans may file a lawsuit.

Not all of thealdermen were surprised or upset by the news of the settlement. Ellen O. Moyer, D-Ward 8, said she didn't know of the settlement before this week but had assumed the city settled with Powell.

Alderman Dean Johnson, I-Ward 2, said he had heard there was a settlement but didn't mind that the council wasn't involved.

"My personal preference would have been to be involved," he said. "But we don't approve self-insurance claims that are regularly paid. I thought the settlement was a part of the healing process, putting the whole thing to bed."

Alderman Ruth C. Gray, R-Ward 4, said she objected to some aldermenbeing informed while others were kept in the dark.

"I didn't knowanything about it," Gray said. "In general, I'd like to know more about legal issues going on in the city. Also, I don't like it when twoaldermen know about something and no others."

Gray said City Attorney Jonathan Hodgson told council members he would keep them more informed of legal issues facing the city.

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