10 deputies subject of Harford Co. inquiry

September 27, 2006|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,Sun Reporter

Ten Harford County sheriff's deputies who work in an undercover narcotics task force are being investigated by the sheriff's office for allegedly abusing its alcohol policy and operating county vehicles while under the influence of alcohol, The Sun has learned.

The sheriff's office confirmed that an investigation was being conducted, but declined to disclose the nature of the allegations other than they involving violations of the its alcohol prohibitions policy.

Spokesman Robert B. Thomas said Sheriff R. Thomas Golding launched the internal investigation after allegations arose about three weeks ago. The officers - members of a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force - remain on the job.

"Information came this month to the attention of Sheriff Golding, who immediately gave them top priority," Thomas said.

According to agency policy, employees are prohibited from consuming alcohol while on duty - or from operating agency vehicles, having weapons in their possession or reporting for duty within six hours of consuming alcohol.

Members of the special investigations division are exempted from the policy, though only while on covert operations and with approval by a supervisor.

According to a February memo, the consumption rate "shall not exceed more than one alcoholic beverage per hour." The agency policy has been in place for more than a decade and is similar to those in other jurisdictions, said spokesman Lt. James Eyler.

In covert operations, Baltimore County police officers are allowed to drink, but in "very limited amounts," according to Bill Toohey, that department's spokesman. He would not specify what constituted "limited amounts."

In July, a corporal in the special investigations division was involved in an off-duty accident while driving his undercover car home to Cecil County, Thomas said. Though the accident was deemed "preventable" after an internal review and the officer was disciplined, Thomas said the corporal was not charged with or accused of impaired driving.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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