Anne Arundel County Police Chief Robert P. Russell is finally getting tough on sexual harassment in his department. He has imposed a $5,000 fine against the head of the Criminal Investigation Division, who is charged with harassing two female employees. The fine -- the equivalent of a month's pay and one of the largest in department history -- serves notice that lewd comments, intimidation and outright abuse will not be tolerated among police ranks any more.
Though events within the department have been slowly forcing Chief Russell toward a more aggressive stance on harassment issues, he used this opportunity to prove he's serious about cracking down on male officers who degrade women.
Of the five officers who have been charged with harassment since February, the most serious alleged offender, a captain accused of rape, retired before formal charges were filed. Chief Russell suspended a sergeant, accused of calling a colleague "good in bed" in front of his squad, for a day without pay -- an appropriate penalty but one involving too minor a charge to be used as an example. Sure enough, another police officer soon was accused of making a more graphic comment.