Judge orders city police employees to tell role in document shredding

Maryland

October 05, 2006|By Matthew Dolan | Matthew Dolan,sun reporter

A federal magistrate judge ordered three Baltimore Police Department employees yesterday to provide written statements about their roles in shredding internal documents that had been protected by a court order.

Judge Paul W. Grimm also ruled that the city must provide more information justifying the future destruction of internal disciplinary files. In previous depositions in the case, a police sergeant said the two years' worth of files were destroyed because the department ran out of folders.

The depositions came as part of a 2004 lawsuit against the city by 14 black police officers, who argued that the department treated officers under internal investigation differently by race.

The lawsuit, in describing the allegedly hostile work environment, also states that black officers have endured racial epithets and had hangman's nooses placed in their lockers.

Despite past race relations problems in department, the officers suing argue the department did not make sufficient improvements.

At a status hearing yesterday, Grimm did not order the three employees who were paid overtime to shred documents to appear for depositions. Instead, he asked for detailed affidavits from them, detailing how they did the job and the reasons they were given for destroying the documents.

But Grimm did not say that the plaintiffs in the case were automatically entitled to some kind of relief because the court order appeared to have been violated. The officers suing the department will have to show that the destroyed documents had a direct impact on their ability to prove discrimination, Grimm said.

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

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