George E. Andrew, 86, leader of vice squad on Balto. police force

January 19, 2001|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

George E. Andrew, a Baltimore policeman who swung a maul the way Babe Ruth swung a bat during a vice squad career of bashing the doors of bookmaking parlors, porn theaters and brothels, died Monday from complications of renal failure at Northwest Hospital Center in Randallstown. He was 86.

Like his colorful uncle, Capt. Alexander Emerson, who headed the squad during the 1940s and 1950s and was known as the "Man With a Maul," Mr. Andrew was feared by gamblers and others who operated outside the law.

During his 14-year tenure as head of the vice squad, the longtime Catonsville resident was proud that he had worn out 25 or 30 mauls in pursuit of justice.

"I might not have gone through so many if I'd found out about steel handles sooner. Those wood handles break pretty easy, you know. I'll tell you, a maul with a steel handle will go through a door like nothing you ever saw," he told The Evening Sun on his retirement as a lieutenant in 1974, ending a 34-year career.

Armed with a maul weighing nearly 16 pounds and a commitment to end illegal activities, Mr. Andrew was characteristically blunt when describing his work.

"People will tell you there is no harm in any of those [activities]. All I know is they're against the law, and if they're against the law, the people running them should be arrested," he said.

He led the city vice squad in four highly publicized raids in 1974 against the North Cinema on East North Avenue, which was showing the X-rated movie "Deep Throat" without Censor Board approval.

Of the film's explicit sex acts, Mr. Andrew observed: "I've got two birddogs that have higher morals than any of the people in that doggone film."

His work never lacked for comedy.

He once battered down the door of a gambler's home and found him in bed with a woman.

"Thank God, it's you," the gambler said.

"What's that supposed to mean?" Mr. Andrew asked.

"Well," the gambler replied, "when I heard that door crash, I thought it was my wife."

Tall and well-built, Mr. Andrew favored dark suits, white shirts and conservative neckties. With an ever-present cigarette, he resembled a Hollywood version of a 1930s G-man.

He wore heavy, black-rimmed glasses and, depending on the season, favored either snap-brim felt or straw hats.

He was born in Cordova on the Eastern Shore. After graduating from high school there, he came to Baltimore to live with Captain Emerson after the deaths of his parents, who were farmers.

He was night manager of a Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. grocery store when he was appointed to the police force in 1940. He made his first gambling arrest while in the police academy.

Richard D. Nevin, a retired city police detective, described him as "very tough, fair-minded and thorough in his investigations. He was very serious about his work."

Mr. Nevin said that Mr. Andrew was always "first through the door" during a raid.

In 1938, Mr. Andrew married Katherine J. Hemler, who died in 1992.

He was a communicant and usher at St. Mark Roman Catholic Church, on Melvin Avenue in Catonsville, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today.

He is survived by three sons, Edward Leo Andrew of Mount Vernon, Va., George H. Andrew of Carmel, N.Y., and Baltimore Police Capt. Michael J. Andrew of Catonsville; and three grandchildren.

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