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Arundel chief says he disagrees with union donation supporting Ferguson officer

Anne Arundel County Police Chief Kevin Davis has criticized his officers' union for making a donation in support of a Missouri police officer who fatally shot a teenager.

The Anne Arundel County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 70, which represents the county's rank-and-file officers, donated $1,070 this week to an online campaign supporting Ferguson (Mo.) Police Department Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9. The shooting has sparked a series of protests and unrest in the suburb of St. Louis.

Officer O'Brien Atkinson, president of Lodge 70, said the donation was intended to help make sure that the officer has legal representation as the shooting is reviewed. Atkinson said union members initially wanted to provide money for food for officers working long shifts following the shooting, but he said the national FOP office steered them to the legal fund instead.

Davis was critical of the union's decision in a statement issued Friday.

"I certainly embrace the necessity for due process for police officers and all citizens and, as a life member of the FOP, I know the importance of the FOP in our profession," the chief wrote. "However, there are occasions when a police chief will agree to disagree with the FOP president. This is one of those moments."

For a time, the Anne Arundel union's donation was the largest to the campaign on the website gofundme.com, but it was eclipsed by donations of $2,500 and $5,000 on Friday.

Organizers of the campaign had stated on the site that proceeds "will be sent directly to Darren Wilson and his family for any financial needs they may have, including legal fees." The organizers declined to respond to questions from The Baltimore Sun, and Friday shut the page down and directed supporters to a new gofundme.com page launched in cooperation with a nonprofit called Shield of Hope.

The initial fundraising page netted $235,010 from 5,902 donors. The new fundraising page had 329 donations totaling $13,142 as of Friday afternoon.

pwood@baltsun.com

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