Author of letter to Norris identified

Western District sergeant transferred to Central Booking

November 16, 2000|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Baltimore Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris said last night that he has identified the officer who mailed an anonymous letter of complaint to his home and that the officer has been transferred to a desk job.

The 48-year-old veteran Western District sergeant, whose name was not released, faces administrative misconduct charges for using a police computer to get the commissioner's address, Norris said.

"Sending the letter to my home was clearly done to harass and annoy," Norris said. "That was stepping over the line. I don't expect that from police supervisors. I expect that from the bad guys."

The letter, which Norris said he received Tuesday, complained about the tough management style of the new Western District commander, Maj. Paula T. Johnson, whom Norris promoted to the job last month.

The commissioner said the letter also accused him of promoting Johnson, who is black, at the expense of more qualified white lieutenants. Norris said the letter could disrupt crime-fighting on the west side.

Yesterday, Norris and several top commanders, including the head of Internal Affairs, went to the Western District station at Mount Street and Riggs Avenue and reprimanded the day shift at roll call.

He said that 10 hours later, about a dozen officers had told investigators that the sergeant had written the letter. Department lawyers are studying the case, and could decide by today what, if any, action to take.

The sergeant has been assigned to the Central Booking and Intake Center.

The commissioner said officers who have grievances should send them up the chain of command or talk to a union representative. He also said he is willing to discuss problems with anyone who asks.

Norris and the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 - the police union - will be at the Western District station this morning to discuss the case and answer officers' questions.

The union head, Officer Gary McLhinney, said last night he is concerned that the district, with about 250 officers, is being tainted as a renegade, undisciplined post.

"I think there needs to be a way for officers to bring concerns about fellow officers or commanders to the proper people," McLhinney said. "People need to feel comfortable that they can address concerns about the department to the command staff. There is a right way and a wrong way of doing it."

Norris considers the matter closed.

"It's a family matter and it's over," he said. "Life can get back to normal in the Western District."

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