Anne Arundel County Police Chief James E. Teare Sr. at the fifth… (Amy Davis / Sun Photographer )
The Maryland ACLU called on the state Wednesday to release information that it says will help determine whether people on Anne Arundel County Executive John R. Leopold's alleged "enemies list" were the subject of illegal searches by county police on the state's criminal history database.
The state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union said it has asked the Maryland State Police and the Maryland public safety department for information about who accessed the statewide database.
Leopold was indicted and charged earlier this month with four counts of misconduct in office and one count of misappropriation of county funds. The indictment alleges that Leopold, a Republican, directed officers of his security detail to perform personal and political tasks, including bringing him to frequent sexual rendezvous with a county employee and compiling dossiers on his political opponents.
"We believe that the county executive and police chief should not make people guess whether they were the subject of files improperly compiled by police and county employees," Deborah Jeon, legal director of the state ACLU, said in a statement Wednesday.
The organization's request follows the appearance of county Police Chief Col. James E. Teare Sr. before the County Council on Monday night. Teare was subpoenaed to appear but refused to answer any questions, saying it would be illegal for him to divulge information to the council that he had previously testified to in grand jury proceedings.
According to the indictment against Leopold, officers complained to Teare about Leopold's alleged instructions that they "conduct campaign activity," but he did not take effective action. He has not been charged in the case.
Mark Vernarelli, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, said the department had received the request. "As always, we will comply with the [Maryland] Public Information Act to respond as quickly and thoroughly as possible," he said.
Greg Shipley, a spokesman for the state police, said it had not yet received the request but would "cooperate to the fullest extent of the law."
Spokesmen for Teare and Leopold declined to comment.
In response to a records request, the county Police Department released documents this month alleged to be part of the dossiers on four county residents. The department said in its response that it was excluding some records because they had apparently been accessed through the database. Both state law and department rules prohibit personal use of the system.
Teare asked the state police last week to investigate the alleged improper use of the system, saying, "There was information in the files which possibly violates Anne Arundel County Police Department rules and regulations, as well as Federal and State law." The state police declined, citing a continuing investigation by the Maryland state prosecutor's office
"Even with media scrutiny, a public outcry, and County Council subpoena of … Teare, we still know very little about Mr. Leopold's 'enemies list,'" Jeon said. "Given Chief Teare's refusal to answer basic questions before the council, it is all the more vital that the ACLU get complete responses to our information requests so we can learn the full story of what went on here and hold officials accountable for their actions."
The ACLU also said it has filed additional public information requests with Leopold's office and the county Police Department to determine if dossiers exist for the following people: Annapolis Mayor Joshua J. Cohen, Anne Arundel Police Sgt. Eric Scott, Del. Don Dwyer, and former county employee Laurie Garvey.
Councilman John J. Grasso, a Glen Burnie Republican, decried the ACLU's requests.
"You can tell the ACLU to go [expletive] themselves," said Grasso. "I've had enough of their [expletive]. I can't stand them. When I hear the word union, it makes me cringe. They can take their garbage … and go jump in Marley Creek."