Officer says he was target of Police Department trap ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

December 25, 1992|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

The head of the Annapolis Police Department's Black Officer Association charged yesterday that the police chief and his staff tried to set him up in an undercover drug sting because he criticized the department as racist.

"I feel I'm being targeted," Officer George Kelley said at a news conference yesterday at First Baptist Church in Annapolis.

Department officials referred questions to Col. Joseph A.

Johnson, who called the allegations "absurd." He said there were no attempts to discredit Mr. Kelley.

Mr. Kelley accused Chief Harold Robbins last March of trying to intimidate black officers by creating "a blanket of fear" and pitting them against each other.

Yesterday, he said that two weeks after the news conference in which he leveled those charges, he was dispatched to meet an undercover state police officer who was posing as a drug dealer.

He said that when he failed to buy drugs, he was reassigned to foot patrol in the public housing projects Harbor House and Eastport Terrace, where he remained for two months.

Sgt. Gregory M. Shipley, a state police spokesman, said his department conducted no investigation of Officer Kelley.

"No one seems to know anything about a drug investigation involving this man," Sergeant Shipley said.

Officer Kelley claimed yesterday that his situation, coupled with the recent dismissal of a black officer, Keith L. Brown, points to a pattern of racism in the department. He noted that a group of white officers was recently suspended but not fired for having sex while on duty.

"I think the inequity of that kind of treatment speaks for itself," he said.

Officer Brown, 31, was fired Dec. 17 from his $25,700-a-year job after he was found guilty by a trial board of violating department policies. The charges referred to an incident on March 16, when he and several officers responded to a call of a disorderly crowd at the Cook-Pinkney American Legion Post 141 on Forest Drive.

Officer Brown, a canine unit officer, filed reports saying he saw another officer strike a suspect who was being arrested. The report conflicted with reports from several other officers, and Officer Brown was found guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer, filing a false report and giving false statements to internal affairs officers.

Colonel Johnson, who is also black, said Officer Brown was fired because he lied on his reports. Such lies would have surfaced and destroyed his credibility as a witness if he ever had to testify in a trial, he said.

Colonel Johnson said that conflicts have arisen because a small group of officers resists policies being implemented to make the department more responsive to community needs. The disputes are not the result of attempts to stifle black officers, he said.

"This isn't a racial issue, a black and white issue," Colonel Johnson said. "When there's been a lack of discipline and then there's an effort to enforce some discipline and make the department more responsive to the community, some people are going to resist it. That's what's happening here."

Colonel Johnson, who had a public information officer at yesterday's news conference, said afterward that only six black officers supported Officer Kelley.

"I don't think you'll find that Officer Kelley speaks for all the members of the Black Officers Association," he said.

Several members of the association sharply disagreed with Officer Kelley's claims after the news conference last March and called for him to resign as president of the 9-year-old group.

Police officers said yesterday that his views are shared by some but not all of the 26 black officers on the 117-member force.

"It depends on which officer you talk to, and maybe where that officer has been assigned to work, and who he works for," said Officer James Spearman Jr., vice president of the association. "Some officers probably will agree with him. Some probably won't."

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