Baltimore police defended yesterday the actions of undercover officers who issued about 10 indecent-exposure citations to women who were urged to take off their tops during a party at a Baltimore bar sponsored by a local radio station and a maker of a video series.
Police said they sent undercover officers into the Fells Point bar, Bohager's, because they were concerned that it was overcrowded and its patrons might get out of hand.
Maj. John E. Long, commander of the city's Southeastern Police District, said he was trying to prevent a potential catastrophe.
"That place was packed," Long said, describing the scene at Bohager's during the bar's "Pardi Gras 2003" celebration. "We could have shut them down but we didn't. ... Because of incidents in Chicago and Rhode Island, who knows what could have happened."
Last month, nearly 100 people died as a fire raged through a crowded Rhode Island concert venue and 21 people were killed during a stampede at a Chicago nightclub.
Long said the women who exposed themselves were issued citations because Bohager's did not have a license for adult entertainment.
The bar's owner, Damian Bohager, could not be reached yesterday. On Tuesday night, Bohager said the police overreacted when undercover officers issued the citations to women who took off their tops on stage at his bar.
The women are scheduled to appear in court April 4.
Several of the women complained Tuesday that they were never told that it was illegal to flash the crowd. They were urged to bare their breasts by bar patrons, bar employees, representatives of radio station 98 Rock and the makers of Girls Gone Wild, a video series that also sponsored the party.
During the party, undercover officers seized the film of a Sun photographer who was taking pictures for a story. The film was returned yesterday.
Police said they took the film to protect the identities of officers who go undercover. Police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark said yesterday that he supported the temporary confiscation of the film.