Under the Microscope
Posted by Buzz Beeler on 19th January 2017

September 16, 2014 9:50 am ET

Letter announces internal investigation being conducted by police over Countygate

Source: Under the Microscope

This one isn’t much of a surprise, folks.

I have received word that the Baltimore County Police Department is conducting an internal investigation into the county council session involving members of Dundalk United. As you’ll remember, Dundalk United testified against the sale of the North Point Government Center, and its members were seemingly targeted by a police major who inferred that certain members of Dundalk United were disruptive at the meeting.

In a letter to Robert Staab, the department responded to the complaint which was filed by both Karen Cruz and Mr. Staab, about the meeting. Many may not know that any citizen has a right to file a complaint, and thankfully Robert and Karen did. Up to the point of receiving the letters, the only acknowledgement of the entire event came from an article in the Baltimore Sun, which quoted Chief Johnson as stating the following:

“The chief has made it emphatically clear that this department encourages people to express their opinions,” she said. “We welcome spirited debate at our meetings, and this department … does not want to provide or create an impression that we stand in the way of people expressing their opinions. So this is not going to happen again.”

The letter acknowledges that Lt. Michael Norris is the officer assigned to the internal affairs investigation. What is perplexing is that only Mr. Staab was notified by mail of the investigation. Mrs. Cruz had not received a copy of that letter.

A PIA filed by Mrs. Cruz brought into focus the behind the scenes documents that outline a course of action by the department involving Dundalk United.

Even though the PIA asked for documents from numerous command and government officials, the only correspondences provided were those at lower level command positions.

Through various sources, I have learned that Councilwoman Kathy Bevins has denied being the person to file a complaint against members of DU.

Now, in fact, that does make sense because there was one person there who has gone unnoticed. We have all heard of this man before. He runs the well coined phrase of “The Office of Fred.” That person is often referred to as the man who actually runs the county—none other than the County Administrative Officer, Fred Homan, who actually testified at the council session.

That might explain why there was no documentation from high ranking county officials, because Homan’s name was never mentioned. So, dear readers, we’ll have to find out now won’t we? After all, this all about connecting the dots.

There is still one perplexing question that does raise some suspicion—why where there no documents from Chief Johnson? I personally find it rather strange that the chief would not have received something in writing, and he claims that he did not communicate anything to Major Butch Wilson in writing. I don’t think a Major would stick his neck out without something in writing instructing him to do what turned out to be a major news item, and not one that helped the department in the public relations arena.

What also will be interesting is how Lt. Michael Norris will proceed in this matter. Will we get the short version, or will we get a thorough investigation involving the interview of all witnesses? After all, he will report directly to Chief Johnson, who might just repeat his mea culpa and call it a day.

There is still another matter pressing in Countygate—the victims are considering asking the ACLU to look into the matter as a possible civil rights issue.

I also found it rather strange that one of the most high profile issues of this type—Mays Chapel, where protesters really did protest, and rather boisterously so. Yet, Major Wilson and his charges did not interview anyone from that meeting.

That is the true difference between testifying and protesting, or, as the saying goes, day vs. night.

So, here is what is on the line. Will the IA case be a whitewash, or will there be some real meaning behind it?

In the end, the two victims will have to decide if the police went too far and this case deserves a look from the ACLU.

Despite the fact that government seems unaccountable to anyone these days, a civil rights case will certainly serve notice that citizens have not given up their first amendment rights to say whatever the heck is on their minds.

(Note to readers: To review this letter and other documents, go to my download page at http://www.buzzbeeler.com/downloads/)

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