Two Baltimore police officers arrested and charged on Friday with shaking down a suspected drug dealer -- who turned out to be an undercover detective -- face a disciplinary hearing tomorrow which could result in their being suspended without pay.
Officers Michael S. McNamara, 23, and Frederick W. Lincoln, 29, were released from the Southeastern District lockup on personal recognizance about 9 p.m. Friday. Each was charged with one count of felony theft and conspiracy. They are now suspended with pay.
Police said the officers were arrested after the department's Internal Investigation Division (IID), sparked by several anonymous complaints, set up a sting using a detective from another agency. The officers are accused of taking $360.
The arrests came on the same day that 47 men and women became commissioned police officers at a graduation ceremony in which speakers, including former Gov. William Donald Schaefer, emphasized ethics.
"You must be honest," Mr. Schaefer told the rookies and their families who packed the fifth-floor auditorium at police headquarters. "People must believe in you and the integrity of the Police Department. And believe me, you will be tested."
Mr. Schaefer, who was Baltimore's mayor for 15 years, told the graduates that they will be offered bribes and favors and will meet con men "who want to make a fool out of you."
He lauded Police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier for restoring "confidence in the future of the city. . . . Each one of you are representatives of Commissioner Frazier on the street. Everything you do reflects on him and the department."
Sam Ringgold, the Police Department's spokesman, said the arrests do not indicate a widespread problem. He said Mr. Frazier moved IID commanders into his office so he could keep a close eye on internal probes.
During his confirmation hearing last year, the commissioner promised City Council members that he would address their concerns about allegations of corruption in the department.
"The commissioner hopes that [the arrests] will send a message that this conduct will not be tolerated," Mr. Ringgold said. "When he arrived, he said this would be a top priority."
The undercover sting operation began shortly after midnight when Officers McNamara and Lincoln came on duty. Mr. Ringgold said a supervisor told them to go to the 4600 block of Reisterstown Road and investigate reports of a drug dealer working the area.
Mr. Ringgold said the uniformed officers found the man in question, searched him and found $360 in his pockets. No drugs were recovered. The officers then released the man, but his money had been taken, the spokesman said. He added that the officers had no authority to confiscate the money because no evidence linked it to criminal activity.
Police arrested the two officers after the money was not submitted to evidence control. Mr. Ringgold would not identify the undercover officer nor say for what department he worked. The transaction was videotaped, the spokesman said.
Henry L. Belsky, a lawyer for the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, said he met with Officer McNamara briefly, but wanted to learn more before commenting. Officer Lincoln is being represented by a nonunion lawyer.