Police captain fined $5,000 in harassment case


A high-ranking county police officer was fined $5,000 yesterday after he pleaded guilty to departmental charges of sexual harassment and other conduct violations, police sources


The fine, part of a plea agreement among department officials and Capt. Richard Smith, was revealed yesterday -- a week before he was scheduled to go before a departmental hearing board on charges that he sexually harassed two female civilian employees between 1989 and spring of this year.

Police did not elaborate on the allegations.

George Lantzas, the captain's attorney, said he was satisfied with the punishment.

"Captain Smith has proceeded in a fashion that he thought would be least divisive to the department," Mr. Lantzas said.

Police sources close to the investigation said the fine was one of the largest in the department's history and is equivalent to working a month without pay.

The allegations against Captain Smith, a 22-year veteran who heads the Criminal Investigation Division, came to light shortly after Capt. Don F. Ward retired in April in the wake of similar complaints.

They are among a growing number of complaints from women who work for the department. Since February, nine women have filed sexual harassment charges against five officers.

In the most recent case, the department's Internal Affairs unit is probing charges that Roger Crawford, an officer at Western District, allegedly made a lewd comment about a secretary's breasts.

In May, Southern District Sgt. George Halpin was given a day off without pay after he described a female officer as "good in bed" in front of his squad.

Since these complaints, Chief Russell has ordered additional sexual harassment training for all department members.

This is the second time Captain Smith has been fined for violating departmental policy.

Earlier this year, he was fined $1,000 after he waived his right to a trial board and plead guilty to violating department policy during a high-speed chase last year. Captain Smith was the commanding officer during a chase in which police threw fire extinguishers and flares from a highway overpass at a fleeing vehicle.

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