Week In Review

November 26, 2006

Naval Academy

Test delay admitted for 5 who took drug

Naval Academy officials acknowledged that they waited more than two months to administer urine tests to five football players who admitted early last year to using steroids - a delay that experts said would have allowed any trace of the banned drug to disappear.

"I think it's very important that we know who made the decision to test these young folks two months after we had good cause for suspecting illegal drug use," said Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Baltimore Democrat who sits on the academy's Board of Visitors, a civilian oversight panel.

"I want to know who made the decision, why that decision was made, and I think that whatever answer that is provided should be one that every single member of the board should be very much interested in knowing," he said.

Cummings is one of several lawmakers, two of them involved in previous steroid investigations, who called this month for a congressional probe into the academy's handling of steroid use.

"The Naval Academy and its students occupy a unique place as American role models, and as such they must adhere to the highest possible standards," said Rep. Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat.

Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt, the academy superintendent, and Col. David Fuquea, who handled internal disciplinary proceedings for the players and is now the assistant athletic director, declined through a spokesman to comment, as did the players.

The academy's acknowledgment follows recent statements that officials allowed the five team members to compete in the 2005 season because the tests had "cleared" them of any wrongdoing. Two other players, who had tested positive for androstenediol in random tests administered by the NCAA, had been barred from the team that season, in accordance with the association's rules.

A section, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2006

Anne Arundel

Leopold taps Stokes to be next fire chief

Anne Arundel County executive-elect John R. Leopold tapped David Stokes Sr., a fire department deputy chief, Wednesday to replace Ronald D. Blackwell, who has overseen the department since 2004.

Stokes, a lifelong county resident, is a 27-year department veteran. Blackwell, the department's first fire chief, came under fire for not reining in the department's overtime budget, lowering the passing score on the test taken by recent recruits, and being unable to keep his ranks filled.

Stokes, who steps into the job Dec. 4, will take over a department of more than 1,300 uniformed and volunteer firefighters - one of the largest mixed departments in the country.

Blackwell said he had a one-way discussion with Leopold on Monday in which he was told he was being replaced.

Leopold, a Republican who was described by members of his own party as a loner while in the House of Delegates, is apparently keeping his own counsel on such decisions and has left several department heads in the dark about their future.

In announcing Stokes' promotion, Leopold did not refer to Blackwell in the news release. The executive-elect did not return phone calls seeking comment.

"Mr. Stokes is a lifelong resident of Anne Arundel County and has served the residents for 27 years," Leopold said in a statement. "He is a bridge-builder who recognizes the importance of a good working relationship between the career firefighters and the volunteer firefighters."

Stokes, a resident of Lothian, runs the department's logistics bureau, overseeing the 911 fire center, other communications systems and repair of vehicles.

Maryland section, Thursday, Nov. 23, 2006

Annapolis

Shootings at mall tied to student feud

A months-long feud among students with ties to different Annapolis public housing neighborhoods led first to fistfights in school hallways, then to the arrests of more than 20 Annapolis High School students and, eventually, to the Nov. 18 shootout at an area mall, authorities said last week.

Javaughn Norman Adams, 18, faces attempted-murder charges stemming from last weekend's shootings at Westfield Annapolis mall, according to Anne Arundel County police.

Police said Adams fired shots inside the mall's food court, wounding an off-duty U.S. Secret Service special agent who was trying to break up a fight. The agent fired seven times, striking Adams twice in the upper body. One other teenager was injured.

Adams, who court records show was charged this month with burglary and felony theft, was ordered held without bond Wednesday after being released from Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

The agent, whom police declined to identify, was released from that hospital Monday.

School officials have said tensions dated to last summer. A fight on the first day of school occurred on school grounds. Later in September, two days of hallway brawling led to the arrest of 18 students. And on Nov. 17, seven more were arrested in two separate altercations.

No weapons were used in the school fights and injuries were called minor.

A and Maryland sections, Nov. 19-21, 2006

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