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Anne Arundel Council votes 'no confidence' in Teare

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Anne Arundel County Council members voted 4-3 Monday night to adopt a resolution expressing no confidence in Police Chief Col. James E. Teare Sr., the latest example of increasing pressure on the chief in the aftermath of the indictment of County Executive John R. Leopold.

The resolution declares that the council is concerned about Teare's ability to lead the department because of allegations raised in the indictment. It follows no-confidence votes by two police unions, as well as union ads calling for the county executive and the police chief to leave office until the charges against Leopold are resolved.

"This is a statement from the council," said Councilman Jerry Walker, a Gambrills Republican who introduced the resolution. "We feel like [Teare's] leadership is in question."

But those who opposed the resolution called it an unfair attack and said the council did not have the authority to interfere with the chief's position.

"It's pure political grandstanding," council Chairman Derek Fink, a Pasadena Republican, said after the vote. "It was nothing more than political grandstanding to get our names in the newspaper."

Fink voted against the resolution, as did Republican councilmen Richard B. "Dick" Ladd of Broadneck and John Grasso of Glen Burnie.

Along with Walker, three Democrats voted for the resolution: councilmen Jamie Benoit of Crownsville, Chris Trumbauer of Annapolis and Peter Smith of Severn.

Leopold was indicted in March on charges that he used his taxpayer-funded security detail for personal and political tasks, including driving him to sexual encounters with a county employee and creating dossiers on political enemies. He has said he is innocent of the charges and will fight them in court.

Teare was not charged, but the indictment says that he knew about some allegations and took "no effective action."

Teare, whom Leopold appointed chief in 2006, could not be reached for comment Monday evening.

Walker's original resolution recommended Teare's "immediate suspension," but an amendment changed that to an expression of no confidence.

The change was made because the county law office advised Walker that the county charter does not permit the council to "delve into the hiring or removal of county employees," Walker said.

County Attorney Jonathan Hodgson said earlier Monday that the council has no authority to suspend the chief.

"The only person in county government who can take any action of this sort against any department head is the county executive," he said.

As councilmen debated the measure, Walker said he proposed it to address concerns expressed by county residents and police officers.

Grasso called the resolution an unwarranted attack on Teare and said the resolution "is worth nothing."

"I think it's unfair to say publicly that there is [no confidence in Teare] ... when he hasn't been indicted on any type of crime," said Grasso, who also suggested that police unions are unhappy with Teare because of their members' pay.

Police unions applauded Teare's second-in-command, Deputy Police Chief Lt. Col. Emerson C. Davis, after Davis told the council that the department was beset with problems, including leadership.

Testifying under oath, Davis also told the council that he had asked the U.S. Justice Department to investigate alleged police misconduct related to the charges against Leopold.

The International Brotherhood of Police Officers, the parent group of the county's police sergeants' and lieutenants' unions, has been running radio spots calling for Leopold and Teare to leave office until the charges against the county executive are resolved.

The council called Teare in March to testify under oath, but he declined to answer questions, saying he would be breaking the law if he talked about issues he had discussed in grand jury proceedings.

Leopold spokesman David Abrams said the county executive had no comment on the resolution.

alisonk@baltsun.com

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