Council member demands apology FOP chief allegedly uses obscenity to refer to Dixon

March 07, 1997|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer JoAnna Daemmrich contributed to this article.

A city councilwoman is demanding an apology from the head of the police union after he reportedly called her an obscenity last night outside a City Hall hearing on alleged racism in the Police Department.

Councilwoman Sheila Dixon, who was told of the alleged remark by police spokesman Sam Ringgold after the hearing, said she would seek Officer Gary McLhinney's banishment from the City Council hearing room if an apology is not forthcoming.

But McLhinney, who said he was offended by Dixon's comments linking racism and the Fraternal Order of Police, denied making the disparaging statement and accused the city police spokesman of spreading "bold-faced lies."

Dixon was questioning Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier and had asked him about how much influence the FOP -- which in the past has been accused of not being friendly to black officers -- had in the administrative decisions of prior police chiefs. In her comments, Dixon raised questions about the organization's commitment to racial equality.

The blow-up comes just weeks after Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke ordered McLhinney and Frazier to meet after the union head called for the chief's ouster. That meeting reportedly had a friendly ending.

Ringgold called The Sun after the hearing last night and said he saw McLhinney storm out of the packed chambers and say: "I'm not going to listen to that goddamn bitch."

"I told him he needed to apologize to the councilwoman," Ringgold said. "I said a lot of people heard the comment and they were offended by it. I'm one of them."

McLhinney admitted he left the meeting. "I did not feel it was important that I continue to hear what the councilwoman had to say," he said. "She insulted 1,000 African-Americans who belong to the FOP."

Dixon said she expects "a public apology from him. If I don't get an apology, I will ask the president of the City Council not to let him in the chambers. It just goes to show that my comments made him so angry. I tend to believe what I was saying about the FOP and the whole process of discrimination and control probably has more truth in it than he wanted to say publicly."

Pub Date: 3/07/97

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