Police union seeks to use fund to aid families of fallen officers

It had been used to pay chiefs' personal expenses

January 30, 2003|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Baltimore police union officials are seeking access to money from an account that former Commissioner Edward T. Norris used to finance thousands of dollars in trips, meals and gifts. They would use it to aid family members of police officers injured or killed in the line of duty.

The fund, known officially as the supplemental account, was founded seven decades ago for charitable purposes and evolved into a personal expense account for Baltimore police commissioners. Last year, the city took control of the account, which contains about $233,000 in cash and stock.

"I would like to see that money used to support families of those injured or killed in the line of duty for their travel and lodging expenses," said Dan Fickus, new president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3. "It was originally designed as a fund for distressed officers. It should continue as a fund for distressed officers."

Fickus said he probably will bring up the account's status with the new commissioner, Kevin P. Clark, a former high-ranking New York police commander. Clark replaces Norris, who resigned last month to become Maryland State Police superintendent.

Tony White, a spokesman for Mayor Martin O'Malley, said the mayor had not decided how to use the account. He wants to discuss the fund with Clark, White said.

The little-known, off-the-books fund came to light in August when a Sun investigation uncovered questionable spending by Norris.

City officials ordered an audit of the fund, and Norris apologized for his handling of the account. The city later determined that Norris had used the account for personal and questionable purchases and deducted $7,668.13 from his severance payment to cover those costs, officials said. In little more than two years, Norris authorized nearly $160,000 in spending from the account.

The commissioner's fund evolved from three charities for which city police officers in the 1920s and 1930s raised private money to help officers in need and finance athletic events. More than a decade ago, the accounts were merged into one fund and became a personal expense account for commissioners.

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