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Anne Arundel police officer suspended while department investigates possible involvement in Capitol insurrection

The Anne Arundel County Police Department has suspended an officer with pay while it investigates if the officer was involved in the rally and insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

The department said its Office of Professional Standards, in cooperation with federal authorities, will review the officer’s involvement and determine whether there was a violation of laws or department policies.

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A police spokesperson declined to provide more information or identify the officer, saying the investigation is “a personnel matter.”

“The Anne Arundel County Police Department is committed to the highest level of ethical standards by its sworn and civilian members, whether on or off duty. The Anne Arundel County Police Department also supports all lawful expressions of freedom of speech and assembly,” the department said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.

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At the rally Wednesday, President Donald Trump continued to lie about the 2020 election results and urged the crowd on to the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., disrupting the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s November victory. After an armed, violent mob overwhelmed poorly prepared police, four Trump supporters and a U.S. Capitol police officer died. Another Capitol officer has since died by suicide a few days later.

O’Brien Atkinson, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 70, expressed confidence in the outcome of the investigation.

“Our department will do a thorough investigation and we are confident that the officer in question will be found to have acted in a professional manner in their capacity as a private citizen,” Atkinson wrote in an email.

Law enforcement leaders tasked with protecting the Capitol building and chambers have resigned since it was breached by rioters who pounded in the windows and unlocked the doors. Senate Sergeant at Arms Michael C. Stenger, House Sergeant at Arms Paul D. Irving and Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund have all tendered their resignations.

The House of Representatives sped ahead Monday with plans to oust Trump from office, warning he is a threat to democracy and pushing the vice president and Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment.

Trump faces a single charge — “incitement of insurrection” — in an impeachment resolution that the House will begin debating Wednesday.

At least nine Marylanders were arrested in the riots at the Capitol, including a 33-year-old man facing charges for allegedly carrying a pistol and high-capacity magazine onto Capitol grounds.

Six of the Marylanders, two of them teenagers, were arrested for allegedly violating the curfew. Three of them also were charged with illegally entering the Capitol grounds.

Cpl. Dave Stokes, a spokesperson for the Annapolis Police Department, said there has been no indication that any of his department’s officers participated in the insurrection or traveled to D.C. on Wednesday.

County Executive Steuart Pittman said through a spokesperson that he is aware of the suspension and “understands the police are doing a rigorous investigation.”

When asked if the county had concerns about other employees attending the riots, Chris Trumbauer, Pittman’s spokesperson, said they “certainly hope that no county employees were part of the seditious mob that attacked the Capitol.”

Lisa Parry Ruth, co-owner of the Bruster’s Real Ice Cream franchise in Annapolis, said in a series of posts on her Facebook page that she organized four charter buses to take Trump supporters from Marley Station mall in Glen Burnie to the rally.

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In later posts, she described the scene during the assault on the Capitol building but declined to comment Monday. Ruth’s business was the subject of a boycott last summer after her husband and franchise partner posted comments insulting Black Lives Matter protesters as “animals.”

In Harford County, the Aberdeen police chief is facing criticism after an image emerged on Facebook of his 24-year-old son in front of the Capitol with the caption: “Yeah I stormed the Capitol. Yeah I took my country back. And no, I don’t feel bad. I feel great!”

Christian Trabert, son of Chief Henry Trabert, deleted the photo and his Facebook account. The chief said he did not know his son went to the riots.

Anne Arundel police have not received any tips from the public regarding residents who may have been involved in the insurrection, spokesperson Marc Limansky said. The department will refer callers to the investigating agencies, including the FBI, U.S. Capitol Police and the Maryland State Police.

FBI and Maryland State Police are preparing for the possibility of violence at the State House in Annapolis next week after the state received an FBI bulletin that warned of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington in the days leading up to Biden’s inauguration.

Stokes said Monday the Annapolis Police Department is preparing a plan to respond to any armed or violent demonstrations. A state police spokesperson said Anne Arundel County police would also be asked to support city and Maryland Capitol Police if such an event is scheduled.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said “additional security measures” were being taken at the State House in Annapolis but declined to elaborate during a Monday morning news conference on the threats that have circulated on social media.

Capital reporter Olivia Sanchez, Baltimore Sun reporter Pamela Wood and Baltimore Sun Media reporter James Whitlow contributed to this story.

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