Police lieutenant who complained about commander is transferred He said major sat in car as officers were in fight

June 19, 1998|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A veteran Baltimore police lieutenant who complained that a commander sat in his car and refused to help colleagues during a fight last month in which three officers were injured was ordered transferred yesterday out of the Eastern District station.

Lt. Ed Jackson, whom supporters credit with preventing a revolt by a squad of officers upset about the incident, said he has not been given a reason for his assignment at the Northwestern District. He said that he is being forced out.

"The commissioner has asked me to leave, so I leave," Jackson said yesterday. While declining to specifically talk about the May 16 fight, he said: "We are police, and we have to be able to count on one another. We all have to assist our fellow officers. We wouldn't be a force if we didn't."

Jackson, who complained to commanders at headquarters about the incident, had been in charge of a shift of patrol officers in the Eastern District. He will do the same work in the Northwestern District.

Two high-ranking police sources said an internal investigation is nearly complete and is expected to exonerate Maj. James L. Hawkins Jr., commander of the Eastern District.

Top officials and Hawkins denied Jackson's transfer was related to the incident at a house in the 1100 block of Forrest St. The sources said Jackson was transferred because his officers consistently underperformed.

Officers involved in the incident declined interview requests through the police union president, noting the internal investigation. Police officials said about 20 officers have been questioned.

The incident occurred on a Saturday afternoon when officers Lisa Howard and Darryl Murphy questioned a teen-age boy wanted on an arrest warrant. More information about the juvenile was not available.

The teen-ager ran, and officers chased him into his Forrest Street house. A dispatcher couldn't contact the officers over the radio and punched up what is called a "Signal 13," a tone that indicates an officer is in trouble. Officers swarmed the area.

Police sources said Hawkins drove to the location from about a mile away when the emergency was broadcast.

His version, according to sources, is that five officers were standing outside when he pulled up. One was talking to a woman who was at a second-floor window. The five officers went inside, and a scuffle ensued.

Two women, including the young suspect's mother, were arrested on charges that they assaulted police. Jackson was not at the scene.

Hawkins declined to comment yesterday, but said in an interview two weeks ago that enough officers were inside the house, and he wasn't needed. "I've been in many fights and scraps," he said. "I can tell when I'm going to make a difference. I have no fear in my heart."

But Officer Gary McLhinney, the police union president, said Hawkins could have helped prevent three officers from being injured -- two were out of work a week -- during the fight. "The behavior that resulted is probably the most disgusting I've seen in command in my 18 years."

The day after the fight, Jackson said officers on his shift were angry and resisted going out on the street. "I stood at the podium and convinced them to do their job," Jackson said. "I told them that they work for their major, but they have an obligation to their community, regardless of what goes on internally."

Pub Date: 6/19/98

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