Fearing backlash, Norris cancels welcome back bash

Police union urged officers not to attend

August 19, 2005|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

The welcome home parties for Edward T. Norris were over before they began.

Norris, the former Baltimore police commissioner convicted last year of federal public corruption and tax charges, said on his talk radio show yesterday that he decided to cancel his new employer's public bash at Power Plant Live! on Aug. 25.

The reason: He feared a backlash from the city Police Department against officers who may attend to show support for him. Police regulations state: "Members of the department shall refrain from making personal contacts with persons of questionable character."

"There will be no welcome home party next Thursday. ... I'm sorry to report that," Norris told listeners of WHFS 105.7 FM, the radio station that planned to throw one of two parties that were canceled. "Efforts would be made to identify them [the officers]."

On Wednesday, the president of the police union urged officers not to go to the party. A Police Department spokesman declined to comment.

In early 2003, Norris left the city Police Department to become superintendent of the Maryland State Police. He was indicted later that year for making a false statement on a mortgage application and for using an obscure city police account to finance extramarital affairs, meals and shopping trips while he led the city force. He pleaded guilty to the charges.

As part of his sentence, Norris served six months in a federal prison, followed by six months of home detention at his home in Tampa, Fla. He returned last week to Baltimore, where he started a job as a radio host and is set to begin serving 500 hours of court-ordered community service.

Since returning to Baltimore, Norris has not shied away from publicity. He has appeared on television news shows and has been readily available to the media. His employer, Infinity Broadcasting, has said it believes Norris has a future as a radio personality.

Last week, a welcome back bash organized by the head of the police union was canceled - despite being billed as a nonunion event - after concerns arose that officers may face departmental discipline if they showed up at the Southwest Baltimore bar where it was planned.

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