Reporting Mike Hellgren
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — A major shake-up in the Anne Arundel County police department. Chief James Teare will step down amid a scandal rocking the county government.
Mike Hellgren explains how this is connected to the indictment of John Leopold.
Everyone WJZ talked to says it’s not necessarily surprising that he’s stepping down but that it’s a surprise that it’s happening right now. Many think he may be a witness for the prosecution against County Executive John Leopold.
Anne Arundel County Police Chief James Teare made the sudden announcement that he was retiring amid a cloud of scandal. He angered some on the County Council when he refused to testify about what he knew of allegations that his boss, County Executive John Leopold, misused his police security detail, making officers empty his catheter bag, be lookouts while Leopold had sex in a parking lot and illegally used the state’s criminal database to dig up dirt on his political opponents.
“If you hear some of the veteran officers talking, in their years and years of service, it’s never been this bad. I think Chief Teare stepping aside will start to repair some of that damage,” said G. James Benoit, County Council.
Leopold faces trial and misconduct charges. Chief Teare was never indicted but was the subject of a criminal investigation by the state prosecutor, who announced he’s now ending that probe.
“It is important to resolve this matter without any further disruption to the effective functioning of the police department. Our office believes that this resolution is in the best interests of the citizens,” said Emmet Davitt, state prosecutor.
Many believe it’s likely part of a deal and the chief will testify against Leopold at trial.
“I believe that the chief turned state’s evidence and I think that’s going to make things very, very difficult for the county executive,” said O’Brien Atkinson, Fraternal Order of Police.
“If the chief was acting at the county executive’s direction, then that’s where the buck stops and that’s who should be held accountable,” said David Rocah, ACLU.
Leopold thanked the chief for his service and said the reason he was stepping down was to spend more time with his family.
When Teare goes, Major Pam Davis will take over. She is the first woman to lead the department.
The chief’s retirement takes effect Aug. 1.