GLEN BURNIE, Md. (WJZ) — The Anne Arundel County Fraternal Order of Police is raising some eyebrows after making a substantial donation to the defense fund of Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson.
Mike Hellgren explains why the union decided to make the donation.
The chief of police has come out against it. He issued this statement, saying:
“As Chief of Police, I am receiving requests to respond to the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 70’s (FOP) recent donation to the legal defense fund for the police officer involved in the Ferguson, MO shooting of Michael Brown. I certainly embrace the necessity for due process for police officers and all citizens and, as a life member of the FOP, I know the importance of the FOP in our profession. However, there are occasions when a police chief will agree to disagree with the FOP president. This is one of those of those moments.
At this point, many questions remain regarding the circumstances surrounding the police-involved shooting of Michael Brown. The ongoing investigation and federal probe into the matter will, ultimately, provide the much-anticipated answers. In the meantime, I attended a NAACP rally last night in Anne Arundel County related to this matter and expressed our commitment to community policing and diversity. Policing in the 21st century requires strong relationships with all of our residents and the Anne Arundel County Police Department is committed to growing those relationships.
We continue to serve the residents of our community by responding to calls for service and investigating crimes to keep our neighborhoods safe. The good work of our Anne Arundel County police officers deserves our continued support.”
Anne Arundel County’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 70 has donated $1,070 to a defense fund for Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson, whose shooting of African-American teenager Michael Brown has led to protests nationwide.
Carl Snowden, head of the Caucus of African-American Leaders, condemned the donation.
“It smacks of racial insensitivity. It smacks of destroying the kind of partnership that the county police department says that it wants to have with members of the African-American, Latino community,” Snowden said.
The police union gave the money the same day the chief attended a rally and vigil, where he addressed what’s happening in Ferguson and said he’s determined to build trust in Anne Arundel.
“We’re only as good as our partnerships with the community. And if those partnerships aren’t strong, a critical incident like the one we’re seeing now in Ferguson, Missouri can have long-lasting ramifications,” Chief Davis said.
The head of the F.O.P. here, O’Brien Atkinson, said his members wanted to provide some comfort to those officers who are working around the clock to keep the peace in Ferguson. But the national F.O.P. suggested they donate to this defense fund. He says he hopes to provide due process to the officer at the center of the investigation.
He told The Baltimore Sun due process can be difficult with the media and political attention the case is getting. His union’s donation is a hot top across the county.
“You can’t trust them. They’re going to defend him to the hilt, even if he’s guilty,” said Robert Matthews.
“I understand why the F.O.P. would represent the officer. It’s appropriate. If we all take a deep breath and look at the information as it comes forward and not rush to judgement on either side,” said Chris Fisher.
The GoFundMe site has been closed down. A new one has been put up in its place. Before it closed, it raised more than $230,000. The Anne Arundel County F.O.P.’s donation was the third largest.
The chief says he’s confident ongoing investigations, including by the Department of Justice, will provide answers to what happened in Ferguson.
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