City police warned to stay away from party welcoming home Norris

Socializing with ex-commissioner, a former felon, may violate policy

Metro

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August 18, 2005|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

Baltimore police officers, be warned: Party with Edward T. Norris at Power Plant Live next week at your own risk.

That is the message from the city's Fraternal Order of Police union, which has posted fliers at station houses warning officers to stay away from a "homecoming" bash planned by the former police commissioner's new employer, radio station WHFS 105.7 FM.

Attending the party may violate the Police Department's rules that prohibit fraternizing with people of questionable character; Norris pleaded guilty last year to federal tax and public corruption charges in connection with his time leading the city's police force.

The union bulletin warns that attending the party is "like swimming without a lifeguard! Enter at your own risk!"

Norris served six months in federal prison and six months' home detention in Tampa, Fla. He returned to Baltimore this week to complete 500 hours of community service. He also got a new job, which started Monday, as a host of a daily talk show on WHFS.

Fears of a Police Department crackdown on officers who might attend the radio station's party Aug. 25 led the union to post the bulletin. It cites Rule 1, Section 5, in the department's general orders, which states: "Members of the department shall refrain from making personal contacts with persons of questionable character."

Officers could be fired for violating the rule, according to the bulletin.

"We told our members to stay away because this [rule] is still in effect and we don't want our people getting in trouble," said Lt. Frederick V. Roussey, the union president. "If you support him, call him, send him an e-mail, but stay the hell away from the party."

Hal Martin, a Baltimore spokesman for the radio station's owner, Infinity Broadcasting, said that station managers and Norris were planning to talk about the issue today, but he had no further comment on it yesterday.

Similar concerns derailed another welcome-home party for Norris, which had been planned for Saturday night at a Southwest Baltimore bar known as an officer hangout. Roussey had helped organize that party as a nonunion event, but it was canceled last week.

A spokesman for the Police Department had no comment. Neither did Norris.

Although city police officers are discouraged from attending, other city employees apparently can go to the WHFS-hosted party at the downtown entertainment venue without fear of retribution.

Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for Mayor Martin O'Malley, said city employees "can do whatever they choose to on their own time, provided, of course, that it's legal and ethical."

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