Annapolis fire chief rejects members' no-confidence vote

January 25, 1992|By Peter Hermann

ANNAPOLIS -- A no-confidence vote taken by Annapolis firefighters against their chief was met head-on yesterday by the chief himself, who said he had done nothing wrong by investigating allegations of sexual misconduct in the department.

"I didn't do anything," Chief Edward P. Sherlock Jr. said. "If the misconduct had never occurred and the officers who had known about it had done their job, we wouldn't be in the predicament that we are in. . . . What did they expect me to do, nothing?"

The president of the International Firefighters Union Local 1926 said yesterday that 69 firefighters expressed no confidence in the chief in a vote held last week. Six other firefighters supported the chief and four abstained. The union has 79 members.

"In most departments of government, this crisis in management would result in the loss of productivity," said Lt. John Morgan, the union official. "In the Fire Department, such a situation could result in the loss of property or life."

But Lieutenant Morgan said residents should not be alarmed. "We are simply saying that the attention and distrust is always on the guys' minds," he said.

The union also reiterated its call of earlier this month that Chief Sherlock resign, saying he had bungled an investigation into allegations of firefighters having sex on duty four or five years ago.

The 11-week investigation involved five firefighters and two city police officers who were accused of having sex in patrol cars and in the back of ambulances. Two firefighters were reinstated last month after city officials learned that an investigator had once had sex while off-duty with a woman involved in the case.

Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins later concluded that the Fire Department's sex probe was "tainted," but said that did not mean the allegations were false. He left intact the punishments for the other three firefighters.

Lieutenant Morgan said the no-confidence vote stems from long-standing problems with the chief that exploded with the sex scandal, but he would not be specific.

All three members of the council's public safety committee said union officials also had not been specific with them. "We offered to mediate," said Alderwoman Theresa DeGraff. "We offered to work out any issues, and they wanted to continue with the chief being removed."

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