Officers sue police chief, small Eastern Shore town DORCHESTER COUNTY

April 30, 1993|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

Four current and former Hurlock police officers have charge in a federal lawsuit that the town's police chief encouraged officers to solicit sex from women under arrest and routinely violated the civil rights of others in custody in exchange for agreements to avoid criminal charges. The suit was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore against the Eastern Shore town of Hurlock, Mayor Donald Bradley and Police Chief Wendell C. Travers.

The suit alleges civil rights violations, saying Chief Travers fired or threatened to fire officers who refused to carry out a number of unlawful activities.

The four police officers were joined in their case by two Dorchester County citizens who say they were illegally detained and searched by officers.

Harry M. Walsh Jr., an attorney representing the six plaintiffs, said Chief Travers sanctioned sexual improprieties by his officers. He said officers once brought a female offender to him for sex.

"Travers encouraged his officers" to solicit sex from women in exchange for freedom from prosecution, Mr. Walsh said.

The police chief denied the charges.

"Those four officers signed their names to that?" asked Chief Travers. "It is false, and I'm not saying anything more."

Mayor Bradley could not be reached, and Hurlock's attorney, Hugh Carter Vinson, would not comment.

The three former officers -- David R. Greeley, Martin A. Fisher and Anthony A. Glenn -- charge that they were fired after $H refusing to go along with the chief's policies. Thomas E. Wolf, who remains on the force while working with the Dorchester County narcotics task force, charges that the chief has tried without success to fire him.

In their complaint, the officers said that criminal detainees arrested by Hurlock police were ordered to do maintenance work on department property, such as washing and cleaning cars, to avoid being prosecuted.

This practice went on from August 1990 to November 1992 without the knowledge of prosecutors or courts, the court papers charge.

The lawsuit also charges that Chief Travers ordered the arrests of private citizens on unsubstantiated charges and then had them subjected to unlawful searches and seizures.

The suit alleges that Janill Hill of Hurlock was forced to undergo a strip search and inspection by a drug-sniffing dog after being stopped in August 1991. Chief Travers held a gun to his head and threatened to shoot if he failed to tell the truth, the suit charges.

Court papers say Donald McWilliams of Cambridge was falsely charged with defacing police vehicles. He was forced to confess and then ordered to pay for the damage before being released.

Both men were required to sign forms promising not to take action against the police department for illegal detention in exchange for Chief Travers' promise not to prosecute them, court papers say.

Mr. Walsh said his clients initially followed Chief Travers' orders but grew increasingly critical of them. He said they complained to town officials and the Dorchester state's attorney.

Michael C. Maloney, the state's attorney, said he referred the officers to the Maryland state prosecutor's office in April 1992. But he said that after receiving the state prosecutor's report, he could not justify further investigation of criminal charges.

The federal court case is a civil matter seeking $200,000 in compensatory and criminal damages.

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