Robey record under attack Schrader criticizes former police chief's treatment of women

'Outrageous,' Democrat says

Republican outlines safety agenda in bid to be county executive

October 21, 1998|By Gady A. Epstein | Gady A. Epstein,SUN STAFF

Republican Howard County executive candidate Dennis R. Schrader yesterday criticized former police Chief James N. Robey's treatment of women, prompting a spirited denial from the Democratic candidate and an accusation that Schrader is lashing out because he is worried about losing the election Nov. 3.

Schrader made the remarks about Robey after holding a news conference to outline his public safety agenda, which was largely designed as an attack on Robey's seven-year record as the county's top police officer.

At the news conference, the first-term county councilman denounced Robey for going on national television to defend his department's treatment of a rape victim in a 1992 case and criticized him for not being able to work well with GOP State's Attorney Marna L. McLendon. He also mentioned a 1995 massage parlor sting in which police officers paid women to touch them sexually.

In an interview later, Schrader said those cases add up to "a culture of not having respect for women," a statement Robey called "outrageous."

"That is borderline slander," Robey said. "My record doesn't support any kind of comment like that. Just go to any victims' rights group, any women's advocacy group and see if they support him and agree with him. They won't."

One local victims' advocate reached yesterday, Judy Clancy of the Domestic Violence Center of Howard County, said her experiences with the Police Department do not support Schrader's view. Robey also said that he supported McLendon's candidacy for state's attorney and initially worked well with her after her election.

Schrader also brought up the Police Department's hiring of a background investigator who was once disciplined as a Baltimore County police officer for an incident allegedly involving harassment of a female job applicant. The Sun reported yesterday that Robey, who was then chief, said he wasn't made aware of the 1989 incident before the man was hired last year, but wishes he had been informed of it.

"The fact that his subordinates wouldn't even think to ask him if it's OK, it just makes you wonder," Schrader said. "Apparently they figured Jim would be OK with it, why bother to ask him about it? I mean, it's just a cultural thing."

Robey shot back that Schrader is a "desperate" candidate. Robey said a recent campaign poll showed him leading Schrader 36 percent to 35 percent, with 29 percent undecided. Robey also boasted of his endorsement yesterday by the organization African Americans in Howard County.

"He must really be worried," Robey said. "He's trying to make me look as bad as he can, and it's not going to work."

Schrader would not disclose his campaign's poll numbers, but he laughed at the suggestion that he's worried about losing. He TTC said polls had nothing to do with his decision to assail Robey yesterday.

The attack began at Schrader's news conference at GOP headquarters in Owen Brown, during which the Republican escalated already heated rhetoric between the two candidates on public safety.

Schrader said he would put more officers on the street, arguing that 12-hour shifts pushed by Robey might not be working. He said he would order the police to work with other county agencies when dealing with juvenile crime, saying Robey wasn't a "team player." He said police involvement in youth programs, ++ something Robey has taken pride in during his campaign, is "lacking."

He also said he would appoint a chief who makes victims' rights a priority, strongly suggesting that Robey didn't do so -- a characterization Robey also called "outrageous" and that has been disputed by victims-rights advocates.

"We have found him to be very cooperative in helping us make sure that victims are able to get through the justice system and can rely on the Police Department to help them when they need help," said Clancy, of the Domestic Violence Center. "I've talked to Mr. Robey a number of times about domestic violence, and he's always been very interested and supportive."

Schrader also repeated earlier characterizations of Robey as a candidate running primarily on the issue of increasing compensation for police officers.

However, Schrader hinted yesterday that he, too, might increase officer salaries if elected, so he more selectively criticized Robey for supporting an improved 20-year retirement plan for police officers. That plan was rejected last year by Schrader and the other two Republicans on the County Council, and Schrader said he would appoint a chief who agrees with his viewpoint that improving the 20-year retirement benefit is too costly.

Pub Date: 10/21/98

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