The rehabilitation of former Baltimore top cop Edward T. Norris - or of his public image, anyway - continues.
Norris, who served seven months in federal prison on corruption charges, made the first of his regular appearances as a commentator yesterday on Baltimore's Fox television affiliate.
Norris, who retains his daily, four-hour radio program on WHFS-FM, The Ed Norris Show, Locked and Loaded, was booked by WBFF, Channel 45, to address crime and law enforcement issues on Thursdays between 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. in an interview segment titled Fox Undercover with Ed Norris.
In yesterday's segment, he spoke about a three-day emergency preparedness drill just held in Baltimore, and the fact that it was beset by some confusion. He also appeared as a guest on the station last week, talking about a need for a ban on pit bulls.
The station's general manager, Bill Fanshawe, refused to say yesterday whether Norris was being paid for his services, although News Director Scott Livingston confirmed that Norris was being compensated as a freelancer.
Livingston said Norris' experience in law enforcement would provide "stimulating" commentary.
"The public has an interest in his opinions," Livingston said. Asked what prompted the station to retain a man who served time in a federal penitentiary, Livingston said only that Norris' criminal history "adds another dimension to his thoughts on the criminal justice system."
Norris could not be reached yesterday for comment.
After his stint in prison, Norris used a catchy motto to help launch his career as a radio talk-show host. "I did my time," went his slogan on WHFS. "Now give me some of yours."
Norris, a former New York deputy police commissioner, came to Baltimore in January 2000 promising to reduce crime. Named commissioner in April 2000, he was regarded as a no-nonsense crime-fighter and was credited with tackling head-on some of the city's seemingly intractable crime. In December 2002, he quit to take the post of superintendent of the Maryland State Police.
By the time he was sentenced to prison in June 2004 after pleading guilty in March 2004 to federal tax charges and misappropriating public funds, the litany of his transgressions had become common knowledge. Federal investigators followed a trail that showed the city's top police officer had used a departmental fund to finance thousands of dollars in gifts, meals and trips, including one to New York to interview for another job. Prosecutors said Norris spent about $20,000 from the fund in personal expenses and on extramarital liaisons with several women, some of whom received lingerie at the city's expense.
Early on, Norris vigorously defended his actions, saying he had done nothing wrong and was a victim of bad accounting. "It was a terrible system," Norris said in August 2002. "Believe me, this was an accountant's nightmare."
In prison, Norris grew a beard and, for his own protection, told other prisoners he was a drug dealer.
After his release, Norris made his debut as a radio talk-show host in August. When a caller asked him whether he felt remorse for the behavior that got him jailed, Norris said, "No, actually, I don't. ... Stuff happens in life."
"I did it," he told another caller. "I went. I was punished pretty severely. Enough already. It's in my past. I want to move on."