Apparent police imposter wanders headquarters BALTIMORE CITY

December 25, 1992|By Roger Twigg | Roger Twigg,Staff Writer

A former Baltimore police cadet has been charged wit impersonating an officer after a man displaying what appeared to be proper identification entered the headquarters building apparently intent on expunging a criminal record, police spokesman said yesterday.

Sam Ringgold, the spokesman, said the man apparently was in the building about 45 minutes, but it is believed that he did not handle any of the criminal records.

Mr. Ringgold said a warrant charging David Smith, 29, with impersonating a police officer was obtained shortly after Tuesday's incident at headquarters at Fayette Street and the Fallsway.

Investigators said they have no current address for Mr. Smith and have not yet been able to locate him.

The incident occurred shortly before noon Tuesday when a man, wearing a blue police jacket -- the kind that is worn by off-duty officers -- entered headquarters, showed what appeared to be a blue-and-white police identification card to the private guard manning the lobby desk, and said he was going to central records, according to Mr. Ringgold.

The spokesman said the man told the security guard that he was from the Northeastern District. Mr. Ringgold said that while the -- man was on his way to central records on the fourth floor, he told a department employee whom he knew that he needed to expunge a record.

In central records, the man met another employee who remembered him from 1984 when the man was a police cadet and who allowed him to go behind the counter and into the area where criminal records are kept, police said.

However, a third employee, who recalled that the man had resigned from the department, became suspicious and notified an officer, police said. The man left the building before the officer could confront him.

Mr. Smith was employed as a police cadet from April 1983 to Dec. 6, 1984, when he resigned for personal reasons, the spokesman said.

Mr. Ringgold said Mr. Smith attempted to enlist as an auxiliary police officer in January 1991, but instead was arrested when it was discovered that he was wanted for failing to appear in court on a weapons charge. That case was subsequently placed on the inactive docket for a year, the spokesman said.

During the period that a case is on the inactive docket, prosecutors can reopen it at any time. After a year has passed, the charge can be dismissed.

Mr. Ringgold said officials are investigating how the man got into headquarters without apparent proper identification, and will make whatever changes are needed to improve security.

A private security force was hired this year to provide security at entrances to police headquarters, a move considered cheaper than having officers at those posts.

The penalty for impersonating a police officer is a sentence of up to 6 months in jail or a fine of up to $100, or both, police said.

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