Officer Under Fire Retires

Second Is Charged In Harassment Probes

April 17, 1992|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Staff writer

A county police captain retired yesterday after being the subject ofa sexual harassment probe, and police officials filed charges against the commander of the Criminal Investigation Division in a similar investigation.

Capt. Don F. Ward, former commander of the Northern District station, hand delivered his resignation to Chief Robert Russell yesterday morning, Russell said.

Meanwhile, police Internal Affairs investigators have charged theCID head, Capt. Richard Smith, with conduct unbecoming an officer and sexual harassment, Russell said.

Ward, who had not been charged departmentally or criminally, faced allegations ranging from rape to sexual harassment. The 25-year department veteran gave no reason for his resignation in the short handwritten statement.

The case against him has been turned over to the State's Attorney's Office for review.

"I'm so glad to get that letter," Russell said, adding that some of the victims were reluctant to go through an administrative hearing process.

A tip about two months ago from the estranged husbandof a civilian employee led Internal Affairs investigators to the alleged 1986 rape of the man's wife at the police training academy, police sources said.

On Feb. 23, Ward was suspended from duty after Internal Affairs learned of the rape allegation. A week later, three more women came forward to complain of indecent exposure and sexual harassment. All of the alleged incidents occurred at the training academy between 1986 and 1988, Russell said.

"Had he stayed here, we would have placed charges against him," Russell said yesterday, adding that documents listing seven charges would have been formally served to Ward next week.

Ward could not be reached for comment.

Under the county pension system, Ward, 48, could collect 50 percent of his salary, but he will be docked 2.4 percent for every year he is under 50 years old.

Russell said Ward's personnel file will reflect thathe left the department before the investigation was completed.

The charges against Smith, a 21-year department veteran, involve four women, Russell said. Because the allegations against Smith do not include physical contact with the women, he has not been suspended from duty.

Around the same time as the Ward investigation, allegations against Smith came to light, Russell said.

The incidents allegedly occurred since 1989. Russell declined to give specifics, but said theallegations center on verbal comments made to civilians in the department.

Russell said Internal Affairs investigators were notified by the women's supervisor. The women had apparently confided in their boss.

Earlier this week, Smith waived his right to an administrative hearing and was fined $1,000 for his role in a high-speed chase last July, during which officers he supervised threw fire extinguishersat a fleeing driver.

Smith could not be reached for comment, but has denied the harassment allegations.

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