Deputy Chief Blows Whistle on 'Dysfunctional' Police Department
The deputy chief of police has asked for the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene and conduct an investigation.
The Anne Arundel County Council finally got some answers Monday night during its inquiry into Police Chief James Teare Sr.’s involvement with the County Executive’s secretive dossiers.
The Anne Arundel County Police Department's Deputy Police Chief Lt. Col. Emerson Davis said, while under oath, that he thinks the county’s police department has become dysfunctional.
“This is the biggest black eye we’ve had on this department in the 35 years that I’ve been here,” Davis said. “Right now we are dysfunctional as a police department.
“We have commanders pointing fingers at each other. We have commanders who won’t take ownership of these problems … We have people that are creating alliances because of the issues going on here. Those right there create problems in the police department.”
Davis said that he had asked the U.S. Department of Justice to “come in and take oversight of the department and do an investigation from top to bottom.”
Later, Councilman Jerry Walker (R-7th District) introduced legislation that calls for County Executive John R. Leopold to have Teare suspended based on the allegations Davis made Monday night. The council is set to vote on that resolution at their next meeting scheduled for April 16.
It was the culmination of a series of inquiries conducted by the County Council that started when the council subpoenaed Teare for questioning on March 20.
After Teare’s attorney said his client would not attend, the chief did show up for the council’s March 26 meeting. But Teare deflected most questions, saying that his answers were protected by the grand jury’s investigation into Leopold.
Among the charges against Leopold are allegations that he used his security guards, officers in the police department, to compile information on political opponents. Some of these dossiers have been released by the police department in a public information request.
Councilman Jamie Benoit (D-4th District) asked Davis if he had ever seen Teare in possession of a dossier on someone that was not a public safety threat. Davis replied that there was one instance when he saw Teare reviewing a dossier on a woman who claimed Leopold had approached her inappropriately in the line of the cafeteria at the Arundel Center.
“I expressed my concern about having the file, and we discussed the issue, and that it didn’t meet the criteria of a public safety threat. After some further discussion, the chief asked me what should happen to the file,” Davis said.
“What happened to it?” asked Benoit.
“I suggested the file be destroyed immediately,” Davis said. “[Teare] turned around to the shredder behind his desk, immediately shredded the document and called a sergeant in the police department and told him to do no further investigation.”
When asked who ordered the dossier be compiled, Davis said that was “the million-dollar question” the grand jury investigation hoped to answer.
Councilman John Grasso (R-2nd District) said he thought the council was trying to act “like Judge Judy.” Even though Davis was sworn under oath at the outset of questioning, he might not be telling the whole truth, Grasso said.
“People lie on oath,” Grasso said. “We are not in a courtroom. There is no judge up here.”
Grasso’s comments drew boos from the audience. He then began asking questions of Davis—whether he had an ax to grind against Teare, and if he had ever been accused of creating a hostile workplace in his environment. Davis said he had but, after further questions, put his foot down.
“I don’t think you want to go here, Mr. Grasso,” Davis said.
Grasso concluded by saying that he was merely emphasizing that the council was not a court—it was a legislative body and shouldn't be acting like a court of law.
Councilman Peter Smith (D-1st District) asked Davis what he would do if he were chief—how he would solve the department’s problems. Davis replied that if it wasn’t Teare, then it would be someone else. But he said something needed to be done.
“I believe those votes of no confidence are a cry out for help by 98 percent of our police department,” Davis said.
Two police unions, representing more than 650 employees within the Anne Arundel County Police Department, have issued votes of no confidence in Teare and Leopold, and called for their resignations.