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FOP battles Teamsters over representation


The beleaguered Fraternal Order of Police is fighting back against efforts by the Teamsters to represent Anne Arundel County police officers.

A member of the union representing more than 400 county police officers has asked for a criminal investigation of three members who support the Teamsters, and the local FOP leadership has begun proceedings to oust those officers and two others from the union. In a countermove, the five officers have threatened to sue the FOP for libel, charging that the union's accusations have scarred their reputations with fellow officers.

In a letter to FOP Lodge 70 President Dennis Howell, retired Officer William T. Wild Jr. said that he had written to the department's Internal Affairs unit requesting a criminal investigation of Officers Richard Colmus, Peter Scarpetta and Robby Thomas, charging that they violated privacy laws by allegedly trying to tape a December FOP meeting.

In the letter to Howell, dated Dec. 4, Wild wrote that recording the meeting would be "a violation of my right to freely speak my mind on matters which concern the membership of the lodge."

Sgt. Jerard Flemings of the Internal Affairs unit said no formal complaint has been lodged.

The officers deny recording any meetings.

Scarpetta said the officers also may challenge the constitutionality of FOP bylaws, which prohibit members from acting against the best interest of the union and from joining more than one labor union.

The FOP leadership has accused Officers Keith Light and Dwayne Johnson, along with Scarpetta, Colmus and Thomas, of violating those bylaws -- offenses punishable by suspension or expulsion from the union.

The charges will be presented to the membership at next month's meeting.

Pub Date: 12/30/96

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