Officers disciplined in complaint of racism

March 17, 2009|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,justin.fenton@baltsun.com

Yesterday, Baltimore police disciplined two officers accused of forcing a homicide sergeant to look at racist material on the Internet and then seeking to cover up the incident.

Lt. James W. Hagin Jr. is alleged to have ordered a black homicide sergeant, Kelvin Sewell, to view a Ku Klux Klan Web site after insisting that the hate group was active in Sewell's home county, officials said. Detective Paul A. Kidd is alleged to have tampered with the computer and to have given a false statement to investigators. Details of the disciplinary measures were not released.

Over the weekend, Marvin L. "Doc" Cheatham, president of the NAACP's Baltimore chapter, sent an e-mail to Mayor Sheila Dixon that read, "Justice Delayed is Justice Denied."

But Robert F. Cherry, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said the case had been sensationalized.

"We stand fully behind Jimmy Hagin and Paul Kidd - the Jimmy Hagin and Paul Kidd I know are not racists," said Cherry, a former homicide detective. "This is nothing more than a personal issue, and the police commissioner shouldn't deal with pressure coming from outside groups and sources, period."

Charles E. Bealefeld, the brother of Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, also was found to have given a false report. He has since joined the Annapolis Police Department and was not charged. The agency does not typically seek to discipline former employees.

"All we wanted was for the system to work and treat everybody the same," City Councilman Bernard C. "Jack" Young said. "The system worked for two, but one escaped."

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