Police chief in Harford refuses request to go on leave

June 30, 1995|By Mike Farabaugh and Tanya Jones | Mike Farabaugh and Tanya Jones,Sun Staff Writers

The mayor and city manager of Havre de Grace have asked the city's chief of police to go on administrative leave in what one city official described as allegations of sexual discrimination.

Havre de Grace Police Chief William L. Lamphere has refused, and said yesterday that recent personnel changes he made may be at the root of any dissatisfaction within the police department. But, he said, "I have received no official complaints from anyone in the department."

He said that Mayor Gunther Hirsch, City Manager Robert Lange and City Attorney Fred J. Hatem asked him to take an administrative leave Tuesday, citing unspecified allegations. The city officials, Mr. Lamphere said, only vaguely mentioned the management of the department.

Mr. Lamphere, 49, who has spent his entire law enforcement career with the Havre de Grace department, said he first agreed to step aside but changed his mind after consulting an attorney and reviewing the city charter.

"I was assured that no criminal implications were involved," Mr. Lamphere said. He began as a volunteer with the police department in 1967, became a sworn officer in 1970 and rose through the ranks to become chief in February 1989.

"All I want to do is fight crime," Mr. Lamphere said. "I don't need to be fighting politics. These kinds of matters should be handled at the police department level and not at the political level.

"I just want to try to get to the bottom of this," he said.

A spokeswoman at Havre de Grace City Hall said Mayor Hirsch, Mr. Hatem or Mr. Lange had no comment.

The mayor and city manager briefed the City Council on their decision at a closed meeting June 22, according to City Council President Henry J. Schreiber.

The council members took no action at the closed meeting, but councilwoman Anna Jones Long said it was "a pretty hot session."

"They mentioned complaints, but there are no specifics," she said.

Mr. Lamphere said city officials told him that they learned about the allegations in March, but that his first inkling that anything was amiss came Tuesday.

"Under the city charter, the duties of the police chief are not to be interfered with unless criminal charges are brought against him," Mr. Lamphere said. "If that happens, then the city council needs a two-thirds majority vote to force the chief out."

Mr. Schreiber said he will address the matter at Monday's council meeting. The meeting is at 8 p.m. at City Hall on Pennington Ave.

"I don't view this as having any impact on the capability or the ability of the police department to deliver its continued good service to the people of Havre de Grace," said Mr. Schreiber, a retired New York City police officer.

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