Police and the Public Trust

August 01, 1994

Howard County Police Chief James N. Robey has a lot of explaining to do.

An extremely disturbing picture is emerging of a police department determined to harbor an employee who may at least tangentially be involved in criminal activity. Ray Leonardy, a 49-year-old clerk with the police department, has apparently admitted he gave his girlfriend money and accompanied her as she bought heroin in Baltimore.

Besides the obvious, Mr. Leonardy's activities have broader ramifications since, prior to his apparent admission, he was assigned to the Police Department's Property and Evidence Bureau, where he was responsible for maintaining narcotics seized as evidence in drug cases. Police subsequently investigated Mr. Leonardy and concluded he was not involved in criminal activity. Mr. Leonardy was then transferred to the department's Quartermaster Bureau, which orders and issues department supplies.

Now Clarke Ahlers, a former police officer and defense attorney, has asked a circuit court judge to order the police department to turn over Mr. Leonardy's personnel record, including details of the investigation. Mr. Ahlers is defending an alleged drug dealer, and is questioning whether Mr. Leonardy may have tampered with evidence stored in the police property room.

As if that were not enough, more damning information surfaced last week when Lt. Herman Charity, supervisor of the department's Internal Affairs Division, admitted to the court that he had never seen an internal investigation handled the way Mr. Leonardy's was. Lieutenant Charity was referring to the fact that the department did not conduct a criminal investigation of Mr. Leonardy's activities, including interviewing those who allegedly sold narcotics to Mr. Leonardy's girlfriend.

Lieutenant Charity testified that he was never told to do a criminal investigation, and Police Chief James N. Robey said last Friday no such investigation will be conducted so long as the internal affairs investigation is on-going. Internal affairs was brought back into the case after Mr. Ahler raised the issue in court last week.

On the heels of a confidential settlement in the recent Bowie case, public trust in the Howard County Police Department is eroding rapidly.

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