It's no secret that Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld IIIis a frequent diner at Miss Shirley's, a breakfast, brunch and lunch spot with locations in Roland Park and at the Inner Harbor. He's partial to the omelet margharita.
So it should be no surprise that the soon-to-be retiring chief headed for the Pratt Street bistro Wednesday morning to catch a quick breakfast. There, according to a police source, he stumbled on two city officers drinking alcohol.
They had just come off the midnight shift and were off duty, but were either dressed in partial uniform or had their guns and badges displayed, said the police source and another person affiliated with law enforcement who is familiar with the incident.
Bealefeld suspended both officers on the spot, forcing them to turn over their weapons, said both sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the incident is considered a personnel matter.
On-duty officers are prohibited from consuming alcohol unless they're undercover and not drinking would blow their cover. And while off-duty officers are required to carry their guns and badges, displaying them while drinking is against the rules.
"All members of the department are prohibited from indulgence in intoxicating liquors while on-duty, or while off-duty in uniform or partial uniform," the rules and regulations state. Even off-duty, officers are not supposed to get intoxicated and "give discredit to the force."
The police source said that workers at Miss Shirley's told Bealefeld that both officers had been in the restaurant several times in the past and had ordered alcoholic beverages while in uniform. Efforts to reach Miss Shirley's for comment were unsuccessful.
Baltimore police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said: "The police commissioner did go to a downtown restaurant, where he suspended two officers for alleged inappropriate activity."
The spokesman said the incident is under investigation by the internal affairs unit.
Robert Cherry, the president of the city's Fraternal Order of Police union, defended the officers, saying if they were off duty they weren't doing anything egregious.
"It's like a cop wrapping up his shift and, off duty, taking off his uniform shirt but leaving his uniform pants on, and going out and throwing back a couple of cold ones," he said.
Cherry noted that "for officers on the midnight shift," 9 a.m. "is their happy hour. It's no different than someone finishing up work on Wall Street and walking out at 6 and having cocktails."
Officials declined to reveal the names of the officers.