Arundel police defend training

Officials say officer's arrest in teen assault not tied to flaw in department procedures

February 22, 2007|By Nia-Malika Henderson | Nia-Malika Henderson,sun reporter

After the arrest of a rookie Anne Arundel County police officer accused of photographing himself fondling a teenage girl during a traffic stop, county police officials defended yesterday their recruit training.

Officer Joseph F. Mosmiller, 22, and the three officers implicated in the Jan. 20 incident were all members of the same recruiting class last spring, said Lt. David Waltemeyer, a county police spokesman.

"The values that we teach our officers and that 99 percent of officers use as a guide don't reflect this type of activity," Waltemeyer said.

James T. Hamilton Jr., attorney for the 18-year-old girl, said yesterday that a police official close to the investigation told him his client "is not the only one this happened to, that there is another victim."

He disputed published reports that said he was told that Mosmiller asked other women to flash to avoid tickets. Waltemeyer would neither confirm nor deny additional allegations of misconduct.

Michael J. Belsky, Mosmiller's attorney, did not return calls seeking comment.

Mosmiller and the other officers are expected to return to desk duty assignments. He is charged with sex offense, assault and two other misdemeanors; the other three officers have not been criminally charged. Waltemeyer declined to say how they were involved in the case.

Waltemeyer said recruits spend six months at the police academy, which includes training on racial and gender sensitivity and conducting traffic stops, then another 60 to 90 days after graduation riding along with a veteran. According to police policy, male officers are not allowed to lift women's clothes or pull out their waistbands during a search.

O'Brien Atkinson, president of the county police union, called the training more than adequate.

"I certainly don't think that any of these allegations could be traced back to lack of training by the department," he said.

But a criminal justice professor who has completed two studies of what he called "driving while female" said that not only training, but tracking and supervision are needed to root out misconduct and detect any patterns.

"These incidents continue to come up, and we're pretty certain that we only see the tip of the iceberg because victims are reluctant to come forward; typically, they are vulnerable people, women who are driving after drinking, prostitutes and teenagers," said Samuel Walker of the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

Mosmiller pulled the teen over after she picked up a passenger at a bar in Pasadena, according to documents filed Monday in District Court.

He asked her if she had been drinking and then lectured her about drinking and driving, the charging documents said. He told her to follow him to her home but took a detour to a church parking lot on Fort Smallwood Road, where he conducted sobriety tests on the teen and then told the two that they could avoid jail if they exposed their breasts, the documents said.

The passenger refused, but the driver, out of fear, lifted her shirt, at which point the officer groped her breast and snapped a photo with his cell phone, court documents said. Mosmiller let the two go, and the driver reported the incident that night, the documents said. After an investigation, Mosmiller surrendered Monday.

Hamilton said that his client is still fearful.

"She's afraid to be pulled over by any police now that she's told a true story about one of their own," he said. "In general, I think police do a good job, but there are a couple of bad apples ... and they need to be weeded out, and this is the way it happens."

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