Stamp upheld two loyalties

Police veteran was a brother officer, a motorcycle Son

April 25, 2008|By Gus G. Sentementes and Annie Linskey | Gus G. Sentementes and Annie Linskey,SUN REPORTERS

For decades, Norman M. Stamp belonged to two brotherhoods.

The 65-year-old was one of the city's longest-serving active-duty officers, who on Wednesday had celebrated his 44th year with the Baltimore Police Department .

He also belonged to the Chosen Sons - a gritty motorcycle club that Stamp helped found in the 1960s, with a tight-knit membership that didn't shy from a fight.

Stamp looked out for his fellow bikers, according to his friends in the club. To his colleagues on the force, Stamp was a loyal officer who would never knowingly harm a colleague.

He was killed early yesterday in a confrontation with fellow officers in Southeast Baltimore, one of whom fatally shot him as they tried to quell a brawl outside a strip club.

For decades, Stamp combined his passion for motorcycles with his job. He joined the department in 1964 and, five years later, was assigned to the motorcycle unit, where he served for 28 years, covering traffic duty and special events. In 1974, he broke his arm when he was struck by a patrol car while riding his departmental motorcycle.

"He did his job - he was no-nonsense," said Gary L. McLhinney, a former police union president. "If you were in a car and he was directing traffic, you went the way he told you to go. There's just a handful of guys like Norman left in this department."

In 1969, the year Stamp was detailed to the department's motorcycle unit, he helped form the Chosen Sons. It was a motorcycle club that started out consisting mostly of police and firefighters.

Paul "Nitro" Treash, the club's sergeant-at-arms, said Stamp liked to ride to Ocean City and smoke cigars with his biker friends. More than 40 years after its founding, the club and its traditions remained important to Stamp, Treash said.

"He was always the first to enter a fight and the last to leave," said Treash, who noted that he never saw Stamp draw his gun.

In 1997, Stamp was one of scores of officers caught up in a widespread staff shake-up in the Police Department. He eventually landed in the department's special operations section: cruising the harbor in a police boat for the marine unit.

Many who knew him said that Stamp initially resented being forced out onto the water after cruising the streets of Baltimore for decades on a motorcycle. But his friends said that he grew to like the assignment.

"To get a biker on a boat is like getting him to church," said the Haven Place strip club's owner, Charles Thrasher, who knew Stamp for 30 years. "I think he believed he wouldn't like it. He loved it."

Thrasher, who wasn't working when Stamp was shot, called his friend "one of those `unforgettable characters'" that one would encounter in Reader's Digest.

He said Stamp and the Chosen Sons would stop in his club every week after their meetings, have a few drinks and then leave - and Wednesday was no different.

"They've been coming here a while," said Thrasher. "They sort of think it's their bar."

Stamp, who was divorced and remarried, had a grown daughter and lived in Essex.

Daniel J. Fickus, a former police union president who works in the marine unit, said Stamp had "a couple of loves in his life, and this job is one of them. He will be sorely missed, that is a fact. His family has 3,000 members - we'll be there for him and his family. We will be."

gus.sentementes@baltsun.com annie.linskey@baltsun.com

OFFICER NORMAN M. STAMP

Age:

65

Education:

Graduated from Polytechnic Institute in 1961

Department history:

Joined Baltimore Police Department April 23, 1964

Worked as a patrol officer in the Central and Northeast districts, as a motorcycle officer in the traffic division for 28 years and most recently on a boat with the Harbor Patrol.

Citations:

He was awarded a bronze star for arresting a man in an assault and robbery and a unit citation in 2000 for handling special events.

Family:

He was married and had one child.

[Source: Baltimore Police Department]

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