Officer reassigned from PAL center during probe of actions toward girls

June 23, 1998|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore police officer has been removed from a Police Athletic League Center after allegations were raised that he inappropriately touched one or two young girls, department officials said yesterday.

Col. Alvin A. Winkler, who heads the agency's youth bureau, said the investigation is internal, not criminal, and that the complaint was made by a fellow officer who heard about a possible problem involving girls between ages 11 and 13.

"No parent came forward. No child came forward," Winkler said. "We have heard things that warranted us to look into it. We certainly can see where there could be some misjudgment. It's better to be safe than sorry."

Winkler said the officer, now assigned to a desk job in police headquarters, is cooperating. Police would not release his name.

"He feels he hasn't done anything improper," the colonel said. "But we explained to him that we are dealing with kids and we can't take any chances."

The alleged incident occurred three weeks ago at the Fort Worthington Police Athletic League Center, at Fort Worthington Elementary School in the 2700 block of E. Hoffman St. Robert W. Weinhold Jr., a police spokesman, said the officer is alleged to have patted one or two girls on the buttocks.

Police officials said the investigation should be completed in about one week.

Fort Worthington, with 400 youngsters from ages 7 to 17 enrolled, is typical of most centers: overflowing and popular among parents and children.

The center is one of 27 in the city that serve as Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier's community policing centerpiece. Two or three police officers are assigned full time to each center.

Last week, Frazier stood with first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton at a White House ceremony in which she hailed Baltimore's PAL centers as a "model for the nation."

Pub Date: 6/23/98

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