Troopers worked on Schaefer's yard

June 23, 1993|By Marina Sarris | Marina Sarris,Staff Writer

Three of Maryland's elite crime fighters did yardwork for the governor and his longtime companion yesterday while the couple visited their adjoining townhouses in Anne Arundel County.

Two casually dressed state troopers used shovels and other tools to dig in Gov. William Donald Schaefer's fenced back yard in Pasadena.

A police corporal clad in jeans and a T-shirt pulled weeds around a shrub outside the home of Hilda Mae Snoops, the official state hostess. He also carried a box into her house.

Lt. James Spicer, who commands the governor's Executive Protection Division, said the troopers' main job yesterday was to protect Mr. Schaefer and Ms. Snoops from possible harm. "They go up there with him, and I don't care if they help him [garden] if they want to," he said.

Lieutenant Spicer and Joseph Harrison, a spokesman for Mr. Schaefer, said the troopers performed the yard chores voluntarily and were not ordered to do so. Both also said they did not know that the troopers were dressed so casually.

"They are paid to be by the governor's side, and if the governor is going to be out in the yard working, and that's something they want to help him do, why is that wrong?" Mr. Harrison asked. Mr. Schaefer was seen in his back yard at least part of the time the troopers were working.

Media reports have long focused on allegations that police officers have gone beyond the call of duty -- police duty, that is -- for Mr. Schaefer and Ms. Snoops while on state time.

In 1990, state troopers kept a round-the-clock watch over the townhouses, then vacant. Some troopers grumbled about the assignment, because they said it removed from the road one of the four to six troopers from the Glen Burnie barracks assigned to patrol northern Anne Arundel on a given shift.

Several residents in the community, across Fort Smallwood Road from a Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. power plant, said they have not seen marked state police cars outside the governor's house in a long time.

"Lately, we never notice anyone around," said Charlie Jubb, who lives on the governor's street.

Troopers also have run errands and delivered packages for Mrs. Snoops, officials and troopers have said. When she was hospitalized in Baltimore two years ago, troopers ferried to her meals prepared at the governor's mansion in Annapolis.

And state police Superintendent Larry W. Tolliver used to take the gubernatorial dog, Willie, for an occasional walk outside the mansion when he had Lieutenant Spicer's job.

Mr. Schaefer promoted Colonel Tolliver last year to the state's top police job. The colonel could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The governor needs protection because he receives an average of two threats on his life a day, some from disgruntled prisoners, Lieutenant Spicer said.

But the two troopers guarding Mr. Schaefer yesterday had their backs to him while they were digging along his fence. Could they guard him adequately from that position?

"The two troopers with him said the governor was within the area, that they knew where he was and what was going on around him," Lieutenant Spicer said. "My troopers here are the pick of the troops, and I have to go by what they tell me."

Lieutenant Spicer said Mrs. Snoops receives police protection at certain times because she serves as first lady of Maryland. "She gets the same treatment as any first lady," he said.

Generally speaking, he said, Mrs. Snoops receives state protection when she travels to and from the mansion, but not when she stays at her Pasadena home.

"When she leaves here [the mansion] to go shopping, I assign a trooper to go with her," he said. "We do what we have to do to put the governor's mind at ease."

Lieutenant Spicer said he spoke with the trooper who worked on Mrs. Snoops' front lawn yesterday and quoted him as saying, "I was up there with nothing to do. I was bored and wanted to do something, so I did it."

He said the troopers are not responsible for taking care of the governor's yard there, either. Mr. Schaefer pays "some kid" from Baltimore to take care of his lawn, the lieutenant said.

Apparently, that "kid," whom Lieutenant Spicer did not identify, has not impressed one neighbor.

"I think the yard is unmanicured," said a young woman who lives nearby. Perhaps to keep on good terms with her gubernatorial neighbor, she declined to provide her name.

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