Watchful chief stops car on I-97 for drug arrests Suspicious-looking smoker catches eye of lawman

August 15, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore man smoking while driving on Interstate 97 yesterday morning was arrested after Anne Arundel County's police chief happened to pass him in an unmarked police car, spotted what he thought was a marijuana joint and pulled him over.

The arrest made Chief Larry W. Tolliver 15 minutes late for the 10 a.m. groundbreaking of a Glen Burnie sports complex.

The chief could not be reached for comment, but Sgt. William Krampf, Tolliver's adjutant who was with him at the time, said the arrest was the chief's first since his appointment in January 1997.

"He is constantly looking for things that aren't quite right," Krampf said. "He gives the troops a very positive signal that the chief is as involved in [law enforcement] as they are."

Krampf said he and Tolliver were driving north on Interstate 97 near Route 648 about 9: 45 a.m. when they passed a red Nissan Sentra. The chief thought the man was smoking his cigarette in a suspicious fashion.

"The driver had his hand cupped over the top of the cigarette and appeared to try to hide the fact that he was inhaling from this cigarette that didn't have a filter on it," Krampf said. "The chief indicated that he thought it was a suspected marijuana cigarette and we should initiate a traffic stop."

After hearing the siren and pulling over, the driver and his passenger immediately rolled down their windows, "which told us they were trying to let the odor escape from the interior of the vehicle," Krampf said.

The driver, 59-year-old Ronald Andrew McDonald of the 800 block of Southridge Road in Baltimore, and his passenger, Jill Marie Gosk, 48, of the 5000 block of Orville Ave. in Baltimore, got out and walked toward the police car, Krampf said. He said he and Tolliver asked the suspects to return to their car, where they smelled a "strong odor of suspected marijuana."

Krampf said they questioned the suspects there without Tolliver letting on that he heads the county police department.

"While the chief was talking to the woman, she said to him, 'We were only smoking a joint,' " Krampf said.

Krampf said he found a brown paper bag containing rolling paper, a plastic bag of what appeared to be marijuana and four vials of methadone in the passenger side of the car.

Krampf said tests verified the plastic bag contained marijuana.

McDonald and Gosk were charged with possession of marijuana. Krampf said that he and Tolliver called beat officers to take the suspects to the Northern District station.

Officer Carol Frye, police spokeswoman, said Tolliver's arrest "will be treated just like any other arrest. It just happens to be that it's the chief" who made it.

Frye said the department was thrilled with Tolliver's actions.

"This just shows that he's not just an administrator that sits in his office," Frye said. "He's also a police officer, just like we are."

Pub Date: 8/15/98

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