Officer subject of complaint Secretary says she was harassed

July 24, 1992|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Staff writer

A county police secretary at Western District has become the ninth woman in the department in five months to come forward and complain of sexual harassment.

Police sources said Officer Roger Crawford made a lewd comment about the secretary's breasts during a conversation with her and three other officers last Thursday.

Besides the investigation, the complaints have prompted a flurry of activity within the department, geared toward helping men avoid and women identify sexual harassment.

Police spokesman Officer V. Richard Molloy confirmed the complaint but would not comment on the incident or the officer. He said the department's Internal Affairs Unit is investigating the allegation.

If charged administratively, Officer Crawford, a three-year veteran, faces a departmental hearing that will determine his guilt or innocence. He also has the right to forgo the hearing and accept punishment from Chief Robert Russell.

Officer Crawford, the fifth officer to be the subject of a harassment probe, could not be reached for comment.

Since February, two captains have been investigated administratively for sexual harassment, while two sergeants have been investigated on similar allegations.

In May, Sgt. George Halpin of Southern District was given a day off without pay after he described a female officer as "good in bed" in front of his squad. Another sergeant is under investigation for again harassing a female officer he was convicted of harassing eight years ago after she shunned his romantic overtures.

The investigation against against Capt. Don F. Ward, former head of the Northern District, included an allegation of rape. The 25-year department veteran retired before he could be formally charged with the allegations filed against him by four women.

Next month, Capt. Richard Smith, who heads the Criminal Investigation Division, will face an administrative hearing on sexual harassment charges placed against him by two women.

Although officers ranked above sergeant received sexual harassment training in 1989, the recent complaints have prompted Chief Russell to call for additional instruction.

All female department employees will be expected to attend a class sponsored by the department on sexual harassment, Officer Molloy said. No date has been set.

"It's to make them aware that the department will not tolerate sexual harassment and the class will also give a definition of it," Officer Molloy said. "Some women may be shrugging it off and not thinking that it's really sexual harassment when it possibly could be."

In addition to the class, Chief Russell is also planning a training memo on the subject that officers will be required to read. And the officers will be required to view a videotape on sexual harassment which will be shown during shift briefings.

Molloy said all officers will be given a written test on the materials. That, he said, would give department officials an idea of what aspects of sexual harassment they should cover during in-service training this fall.

Finally, Chief Russell is planning a mentor program for all female officers.

"If they don't feel comfortable with their superior who is a man, they can go to their female mentor and it will be taken care of from there," Officer Molloy said.

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