Howard deputies' records questioned


A police lieutenant serving on the Howard County sheriff's transition team is calling for an investigation to determine if training records for deputies were falsified in the past and then destroyed as part of a cover-up.

In a report to Sheriff Michael A. Chiuchiolo, Lt. Angus J. Park said he had heard allegations that deputies might have been given credit for training they had not received and scores for tests they had not taken.

Lieutenant Park also noted that all training records before 1987 were missing and that those kept between 1987 and 1989 were in "poor" shape, which he said would hamper any investigation.

Deputies must receive 18 hours of in-service training a year to retain their certification by the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions. They are tested in such areas as use of firearms, civil and criminal law, drug awareness and first aid.

Sheriff Chiuchiolo, a Democrat elected in November, acknowledged yesterday that he had received Lieutenant Park's report. While he is "concerned" about the allegations, the sheriff said, he is awaiting the full transition team report from attorney Paul Rappaport, a former county police chief, before deciding to request an investigation.

Don Hopkins, deputy director of the training commissions, said his organization would launch an investigation if there was a formal allegation from the Howard County sheriff that training records might have been falsified. "If it really happened that training records were falsified, we would take that very seriously, and it could affect a deputy's certification," said Mr. Hopkins.

Sgt. Rodney Stem took over as the training officer last year from Maj. Donald Pruitt, who, along with his twin brother, Sgt. Dennis Pruitt, is suspended with pay while awaiting the sheriff's decision on how they should be punished for taking part in Nazi mimicry in the office.

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