Interim commissioner Gary Tuggle comments on the Baltimore police officer arrested on drug trafficking charges. (Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun video)
A Baltimore police officer has been charged with drug violations after Baltimore County officers say they saw him involved in a “narcotics transaction” in a parking lot in Woodlawn.
Officer Spencer P. Moore, a 14-year veteran of the city police department, was arrested Tuesday night in the 1600 block of N. Forest Park Ave., just west of the city line.
Interim Baltimore Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle announced the arrest Wednesday and condemned the officer’s alleged actions.
“This type of activity is just simply not going to be tolerated,” Tuggle said. “Every day men and women put this uniform on, and they go out with a sense of pride and dignity as they execute the mission of protecting the citizens of the city. We will not stand for this type of activity. We will not stand for disgrace of the badge.”
It was the latest legal setback for the city Police Department, which in the past year has seen the convictions of eight members of its elite gun unit on federal racketeering charges and the resignation of its police commissioner following federal charges of failing to file tax returns. The department is under a federal consent decree that requires sweeping reforms after U.S. Justice Department investigators found officers routinely engaged in widespread unconstitutional and discriminatory policing.
The department’s internal affairs division began investigating Moore several months ago, Tuggle said, and later involved Baltimore County police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“This investigation was started within this Police Department, and I am particularly proud of that,” said Tuggle, himself a former DEA agent.
Tuggle said Moore had been on suspension with pay for several months stemming from a prior incident. He declined to say why the officer was being investigated internally.
Moore is now on unpaid suspension pending the outcome of the criminal case. He earned about $80,000 last year, according to city salary records.
In May, police identified Moore as a witness to the shooting of a 36-year-old woman in the Yale Heights neighborhood of Southwest Baltimore. The woman, who was not identified by the department, suffered serious injuries, but survived. Moore was not injured. Police said at the time that Moore was cooperative with investigators after the shooting, and they did not believe Moore was targeted.
Moore, who is the son of Baltimore police Col. Robert Smith, is the latest city officer to come under scrutiny.
Tuggle said Wednesday that another officer has been separated from the department following an incident on July 6 in which she declined to respond to reports of an armed man. Tuggle would not say whether the officer resigned or was fired. The officer had been flagged by an off-duty firefighter and two others about a man carrying a gun in his waistband downtown, but the officer told them that it was not her district.
Tuggle has called the incident an “embarrassment.” and “totally unacceptable.”
Earlier this month, a city grand jury indicted Officer Carlos Rivera-Martinez on charges of first-degree assault and misconduct in office stemming from an alleged incident in July 2016 near the War Memorial. Police have provided few details about the incident, but the alleged victim, Melvin Townes, told The Baltimore Sun that Rivera-Martinez slammed him to the ground and struck him in the face.
Baltimore County police said Moore was arrested after officers in the Woodlawn area observed a man, later identified as Moore, get out of a silver Lexus, walk up to a white Chevrolet pickup truck in the Woodlawn parking lot and hand an object to the driver.
“Officers immediately recognized this as a narcotics transaction,” county police said in a statement.
Moore and the driver of the Chevrolet, later identified as Keon Bennett, were detained, county police said. A search of the Lexus revealed three pill bottles containing over 100 Oxycodone pills, police said.
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Two of the bottles inside the car did not have prescription labels attached, police said. Officers also located marijuana on the driver of the pickup truck and Oxycodone pills inside the truck, police said.
Moore has been charged with possession with the intent to distribute a narcotic, possession of a controlled dangerous substance, and obtaining a prescription by fraud. He is being held without bail at the Baltimore County Department of Corrections in Towson.
Bennett, of the 1400 block of Vida Drive in Gwyn Oak, is charged with two counts of possession with the intent to distribute a narcotic, possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of over 10 grams of marijuana, and obtaining a prescription by fraud. He was being held on $50,000 bail in Towson.
Neither Moore nor Bennett had attorneys listed in online court records.