Ruling permits officers to work in firearm sales


An arbitrator has ruled that the Baltimore County Police Department must rescind a rule that bars officers from outside work involving the sale of firearms.

Arbitrator Roger P. Kaplan also ordered that the department negotiate with the police union before changing the secondary employment policy.

"We felt very strongly that it was a condition of employment that was subject to bargaining," said Cole B. Weston, president of the Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge No. 4. "We're pleased with the arbiter's ruling in the case."

The ruling resolves a complaint filed in July by the union, which objected to the department's implementation of the rule change in June without negotiations.

The ruling said that police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan testified during the arbitration proceedings that he drafted the policy after learning of cases in which weapons used in unrelated killings were traced to a gun shop owned and operated at the time by a county police officer.

Bill Toohey, a county police spokesman, declined to comment yesterday on the ruling.

A shotgun used in the February killing of William A. Bassett, a St. Paul's School science teacher, at Towson Town Center was purchased at The Gun Shop on Eastern Boulevard in Essex. The store was owned at the time by Officer Robert L. Warnick II, and previously was owned by his father, Officer Robert L. Warnick.

In 2000, a woman purchased a shotgun and ammunition for Joseph A. Palczynski at The Gun Shop, along with an assault rifle and ammunition from a Reisterstown shop, before Pal- czynski went on a two-week rampage that killed four.

While the guns were purchased legally, the police chief said he was concerned with the public's perception of police officers selling guns that later might be used in killings, according to the ruling.

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