White lieutenant disciplined after remarks cause stir

February 25, 1999|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A white Baltimore police lieutenant was ordered to desk duty yesterday after he allegedly made remarks deemed insensitive to black officers, a department source said.

While the comments might not have been overtly racial, the high-level source said, they raised questions about whether the supervisor would fairly treat black officers under his command.

A department spokesman, Robert W. Weinhold Jr., confirmed the disciplinary action last night. He said an internal hearing will be held this week, at which the lieutenant could be suspended.

"The complainant alleged severe supervisory misconduct," Weinhold said. "The complainant alleged racial inequity, fear of retaliation and the alleged creation of a hostile work environment."

Weinhold declined to release the lieutenant's name because of the investigation. He said the complainant went directly to Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier, who "ordered a swift probe."

He said Frazier's quick action should send a strong message. "When issues of internal inequity or mismanagement are raised, the department will react fairly and decisively," Weinhold said.

The source said the lieutenant made questionable comments over the course of a number of days, in small groups of supervisors and at larger briefings.

The source said the lieutenant warned about the Community Relations Commission, an oversight agency that monitors equity in municipal agencies and has concluded that a disproportionate number of African-American officers were being fired.

The source said the lieutenant told one group: "We have to be careful and look out for one another because of the CRC."

Sgt. Richard A. Hite, president of Vanguard Justice Society, an organization of black officers, said he was pleased to see the incident investigated.

Pub Date: 2/25/99

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