By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun
8:42 PM EDT, September 27, 2011
An off-duty Baltimore police officer was arrested last week after leading Baltimore County police officers on a chase and failing a breath test, according to police charging documents.
Timothy Terrell Smith, 26, a five-year department veteran, is accused of reaching for his handgun as officers forcibly removed him from his vehicle, after he nearly side-swiped a county police cruiser while traveling at more than double the speed limit.
The charging documents state that County police attempted to pull over Smith's black Lexus at about 2 a.m. on Sept. 23 on Liberty Road. He then accelerated and crossed five lanes, cutting in front of several vehicles, and forcing their drivers to brake to avoid crashing into him. He continued to flee for nearly a mile before coming to a sudden stop.
Police said that when Smith failed to leave the vehicle, they attempted to remove him and handcuff him. They noticed a semi-automatic handgun in a holster on his right waist, and tried to get control of the gun. When Smith moved his hands toward it, officers grabbed his arms and took possession of the weapon.
Smith identified himself as a city police officer and was "uncooperative and argumentative throughout the process," according to the documents. Smith told the officers that he saw their emergency lights but did not hear a siren. County police said Smith smelled of alcohol and failed field sobriety tests, then consented to a breath test and registered 0.14 percent. The legal limit is 0.08.
Smith, of Gwynn Oak, could not be reached for comment.
Anthony Guglielmi, a city police spokesman, said Smith is assigned to the Northern District and was immediately suspended after the arrest. He'll face an internal investigation after the court case has concluded.
"Any activity that undermines the integrity of the agency simply will not be tolerated," Guglielmi said.
Smith's case could renew calls to reexamine policies requiring off-duty officers to carry their service weapons.
Police officials pledged last year to review regulations requiring officers to be armed while off-duty, after an officer who was drinking at a Mount Vernon bar shot and killed an unarmed man during a confrontation. Guglielmi said at the time that the rules "were not strict enough." He specified that officials would be looking at whether officers should carry their weapons when they expect to be drinking alcohol. It was not clear Tuesday whether that review prompted any changes.
The Police Department's firearms regulations stipulate that sworn officers "shall be suitably armed" when off-duty within the city of Baltimore, except "when engaged in such activities that a prudent person would reasonably conclude the wearing of a firearm to be inappropriate."
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