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Cop Out
In Rousting Officer Jacqueline Folio, The Baltimore Police
Department Has Raised Questions About its Own Internal
Affairs
At 6:08 p.m. on Thursday, March 27, 2003, an
anonymous tipster calls Baltimore City 911 and describes
a black man wearing a blue baseball cap, a white shirt, and
blue jeans, dealing drugs at the corner of Pratt Street and
Ellwood Avenue in East Baltimore. The stash, the caller
says, is in a brown paper bag in some bushes next to a
corner house there. Three minutes later, 41-year-old
Baltimore City Police patrol officer Jacqueline Folio is the
first to respond to the scene, where Patterson Park butts
up to Highlandtown Middle School.

A 14-year veteran with two stints as a police academy
instructor under her belt, Folio makes fleeting eye contact
with a young man who fits the description, as he walks
away from the area with two friends. Folio radios in the
suspect’s location and proceeds to recover a brown paper
bag from under the bushes. It contains money and
suspected cocaine in baggies. A block away, on the
opposite side of the school, other officers collar the
suspect, 18-year-old Leon Burgess. A half-hour after the
phone call, Burgess is on his way to Central Booking. Folio
completes the paperwork, charging Burgess with
possession with intent to distribute cocaine, then submits
the evidence to headquarters at 9 p.m.

By all appearances, it’s a routine drug arrest, done with
speed and efficiency, wrapped up neatly and ready for the
courts in a matter of hours. But by midnight, it’s Folio, not
Burgess, who’s in hot water. Two years later, she still is,
because the whole incident was a setup, a police integrity
sting designed and conducted by the BPD’s Internal Affairs
Division to see if a cop fails to turn in abandoned drugs
and money.
By Van Smith - Baltimore City Paper
"The Internal Affairs detectives’ sting also created a
victim: Leon Burgess, who was falsely stopped,
detained, and arrested as a direct result of the actions
of the detectives, who did nothing to stop it. They were
the only people on the scene other than Burgess and
his friends who knew he was innocent, and the
Internal Affairs detectives simply watched the arrest,
recording it on tape. What’s more, the tape reveals
that the detectives knew that they were watching
trouble unfolding at the time."
© 2006 Baltimore City Paper
Suddenly, the department reversed course. On March 18,
the department sent a letter to Ahlers stating that “Folio is
under no direct order . . . to retire. In fact, as of this date
she is still a member” of the force—despite the fact that
Folio had signed retirement papers, as previously directed
by the department, the day before.

On March 22, Hamm issued another letter, stating that his
March 11 letter ordering Folio out of her job was signed
and sent “in error” and that her “job has not been
abolished and I am not authorizing a retirement.” As of
press time, Folio’s status as a Baltimore City police officer
remains in limbo, and she and her lawyer are outraged
and baffled. Once you hear her side of this story, it’s not
hard to imagine why.

Directly after signing her retirement papers on March 17,
Folio and Ahlers arrived at City Paper’s offices to talk. It
was the first time Folio had spoken to the press about the
matter. Now that she was no longer a member of the force
(or so she believed), she was finally free to talk.

“The cost of this case was devastating to me,” Folio
lamented in a clear, even-toned Baltimore accent.
Physically, she’s obviously strong—an attribute that
explains her police academy stints, teaching defensive
tactics and physical fitness. And like most cops, she’s
practiced at masking her emotions when speaking. But her
words themselves, more than her demeanor, gave away
the depth of her feelings. “I live in the city, I’ve been a
lifelong city resident, and I truly believe in the city. That’s
why I’ve been here so long and had complete faith in the
police department.

“I guess what hurts me most,” she continued, “is who really
suffered here is the citizens of Baltimore—not having me
on the street protecting their communities. And if you talk
to anyone in the communities that I patrolled, they miss
me. To me, that’s who I ultimately work for. And I like to
know that when they saw me, for eight hours they at least
felt safe at some point. That’s what meant the most to me,
that I’m not going to be able to do that anymore.”

The police department has nothing to say about the Folio
affair because, BPD spokesman Matt Jablow says, it
expects to be sued.

In fact, Ahlers has so notified the department—not
formally, but by implication. On March 22—the same day
Hamm rescinded his order for Folio to retire—Ahlers sent a
six-page letter to the department that, in closing, reviewed
Folio’s “rights” in regards to her experience with the
department’s internal-affairs bureaucracy. Among them
were the rights to “take civil action” in the courts, to
“request federal criminal and civil investigation of
misconduct by her accusers,” and “to take effective public,
political action through the mass media.” Ahlers dangled
the prospect of negotiating a financial settlement, but
pointed out that “Ms. Folio’s legal obligation to cooperate
in any federal criminal investigation” was not negotiable.
Reading between the lines, Ahlers was putting the
department on the alert that Folio can give as good as she
gets.

The banner reads HIGHLANDTOWN ‘DRUG-FREE’
MIDDLE SCHOOL. It hangs over a public school, next to a
public park, as an early spring day turns to dusk, right
when students and working people who live in the area are
likely to be enjoying some free time outdoors. This is
where and when Internal Affairs chose to place a fake drug
stash under bushes next to a public sidewalk—where any
youngster might pick up the bag, where any random
person passing through might be swept up in the sting and
arrested—as a ploy to tempt a cop to steal abandoned
contraband.

As Folio experienced it, the “random integrity test”—
Internal Affairs’ term for the operation—presented
anomalies that raised eyebrows even as it unfolded. Folio
says she and other cops who share her beat knew that
Pratt and Ellwood is not a drug corner, so the tip itself
(phoned in by an Internal Affairs detective) was out of the
ordinary. Even Leon Burgess, the man Folio arrested, said
as much during a police interrogation: “It’s not even a drug
area that they was riding in. I have never even seen . . .
drug[s] move through there.”

Stranger still was the condition of the recovered cash:
$250 in clean, crisp, new bills, several of them with
sequential serial numbers. Folio and another responding
officer discussed the unusually fresh bills as soon as they
first examined them, and Burgess, when he was
interrogated by police officials while still in custody at
Central Booking early the next morning, pointed out that
“junkies don’t give you straight money like that. Junkies’
money’s sweaty and it’s balled up and all types of stuff.”

The Internal Affairs detectives’ sting also created a victim:
Leon Burgess, who was falsely stopped, detained, and
arrested as a direct result of the actions of the detectives,
who did nothing to stop it. They were the only people on
the scene other than Burgess and his friends who knew he
was innocent, and the Internal Affairs detectives simply
watched the arrest, recording it on tape. What’s more, the
tape reveals that the detectives knew that they were
watching trouble unfolding at the time.

Internal Affairs sergeants Terry Ressin and Robert Morris
were sitting in a surveillance vehicle during the sting, and
their video camera recorded their discussion as Burgess
was accosted by the patrol officers. According to the
transcript (which was provided by Ahlers to City Paper,
along with the rest of Folio’s records of the case), Ressin
remarked, “If they lock him up, we got problems.”

Morris responded that Folio is “supposed to be a decent
girl. I think she’ll probably just get numbers for found
property and lock him up for [inaudible], all we can hope
that anyway.”

Ressin’s retort: “And if not, we’re all screwed.”

As it turned out, Internal Affairs was not screwed, but Folio
was—with Burgess as collateral damage. “They know this
is illegal,” Ahlers says of the detectives’ recorded
conversation as they watched Folio arrest Burgess.
“[Internal Affairs] had let a person be unconstitutionally
stopped, detained, and arrested. He had no business
being stopped because [Internal Affairs] knew, when they
gave the description out [to 911], that it was a fiction. They
know this is illegal,” he argues emphatically, growing visibly
exercised. “Jackie doesn’t know that. She’s been
dispatched to a felony in progress!”

What’s more, during Folio’s criminal trial it came to light
that this particular test came with a heightened risk of a
false arrest built in. Under cross-examination, the Internal
Affairs detective who designed the sting, Brian Winder,
admitted that the plan was to have Resin call 911 with a
description “that mirrors persons in the area and advise . .
. that the person described is dealing drugs” (emphasis
added), almost guaranteeing the prospect of the false
arrest of a passing civilian.

Elsewhere in Winder’s testimony at Folio’s trial, the
detective acknowledged that he designed the test without
a written manual to help him navigate potential pitfalls—
what actions to take should someone be falsely stopped,
detained, or arrested as a result of the test. (In July 2004,
after Winder left Internal Affairs, he was shot and killed in
the line of duty.) Indeed, a federal class-action
discrimination lawsuit brought against the department in
December 2004 by a large group of African-American
officers asserts that “BPD has no written investigatory
standards, policy, or training for members of [Internal
Affairs].”

Folio says she has read a portion of a 1990s New York
Police Department manual for doing internal-affairs stings,
which explains what to do when faced with an unexpected
problem, such as a false arrest. “It spells out, if it goes
bad, what they need to do to stop it,” Folio pointed out.

“Suppose, for example,” Ahlers says, picking up on the
theme, “if Officer Folio had pointed a gun at Burgess,
would they then interrupt it? I mean, at what point were
they willing to say, ‘Jeez, now things have deteriorated to
the point that she may use deadly force, maybe now we
ought to admit that the suspect is not the felon because it’s
a fictitious felony.’”

Unprepared for the complications that arose from the
sting gone wrong, BPD began tossing the problem up the
chain of command like a hot potato. As Internal Affairs
sergeants Ressin and Moore followed the police van that
was transporting Burgess to Central Booking, Ressin
phoned his supervisor, Lt. Ross Buzzuro. “We gave out a
description,” Ressin explained, according to the
surveillance-tape transcript, “and they, ah, actually
stopped somebody a couple of blocks away, who fit the
description and they locked him up.” (Emphasis in the
original.)

Then Ressin called the lieutenant colonel in charge of
Internal Affairs at the time, George Mitchell, to brief him on
the situation. “They actually stopped somebody,” he
recounted to Mitchell. “I don’t know yet if they found
something on him while they were checking him or if they’
re going to charge him with our stash. If it was our stuff,”
Ressin added, “then we got problems.” Then, to an
inaudible comment made by Mitchell, he responded,
“Yeah, that’s what I’m hoping, but if not then we’ll do what
we have to do.”

What had to be done, subsequent events make clear, was
to stick the whole mess on Folio, based on her statement
of charges against Burgess, which was completed by 8:30
p.m. At 10:30 p.m. on March 27, 2003, the evening of the
arrest, the department’s then-chief of special projects,
Sean Malone, was first contacted about the incident.
Twenty minutes later, Mitchell briefed one of his Internal
Affairs lieutenants, and sent another to the Southeastern
District station house to await shift change, when Folio
would be present. At 11:45 p.m., Folio arrived for shift
change, and was immediately summoned to her shift
commander’s office. By midnight, the Southeastern District
commander, Maj. John Long, was advised by Mitchell of
Folio’s “impropriety” in writing up an allegedly false report.
Minutes later, two Internal Affairs detectives escorted Folio
to the Internal Affairs offices to read her her Law
Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights rights. Her police
powers were suspended immediately, and she was
assigned to work at the Baltimore City Juvenile Detention
Center.

Burgess, meanwhile, was locked up at Central Booking,
where the booking process was completed by about 8:15 p.
m. At 12:45 a.m. on March 28—just as Folio, at Internal
Affairs, was being read her Law Enforcement Officers Bill
of Rights rights for having wrongfully arrested him, an
innocent man—Burgess was taken out of a group cell at
Central Booking and put in a room to be interrogated by
Malone, Internal Affairs Lt. Joseph Smith, and Internal
Affairs Det. Anthony Vaeth. The interview lasted for 35
minutes. Afterward, Burgess was returned to the cell and
remained locked up until 2:45 a.m., when he was finally
released and given a lift to his East Baltimore home by
Malone, Smith, and Vaeth.

It’s clear from the transcript of that interview that Burgess
believed he was officially under arrest when Malone, Smith,
and Vaeth interrogated him. Smith even re-read him his
Miranda rights on the record, an act that further veiled the
fact that the police knew he was innocent, had been
wrongfully arrested, and was now being wrongfully held
and interrogated. It was then more than six hours after his
false arrest, and no one had told him he was free to leave.

Ahlers, during the interview at City Paper right after
Folio’s March 17 retirement, says he was particularly
shocked at Malone’s conduct in handling Burgess: “His first
concern, when he arrived at Central Booking that night,
should have been to release Burgess. What he does
instead is he scams Burgess by bringing him into a room
and giving him Miranda. He knows, if he’s got an ounce of
sense, that Internal Affairs has done something grossly
unconstitutional here, and illegal, and that the city has
liability. And so he takes what they’ve done, and he looks
at Jackie Folio’s statement of charges, and he says,
‘Here’s the out. This ambiguous sentence here, we’ll put it
on the officer.’

“The proof of that is that they never even call Jackie Folio
to figure out the ambiguity. They never even asked her, ‘Is
this accurate?’ She’s passed the test they designed. She’s
turned in all the drugs, all the money. She has no history
of ever getting a complaint. In fact, on the [Internal Affairs]
tape one of them says she’s supposed to be a good
officer.”

In fact, according to the case record, as the Burgess
interrogation was winding down that night, the decision to
criminally indict Folio had already been made. At 1:15 in
the morning, Lt. Col. Mitchell of Internal Affairs notified
Thomas Krehely, the assistant state’s attorney who
handles police corruption cases; in turn, Krehely advised
Mitchell to “gather info, interview people, and meet week of
April 1, 2003 for an indictment.” Folio didn’t know her fate
was sealed already. On June 6, 2003,when she waived her
Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights rights and gave a
voluntary statement, it was because she thought she could
avoid indictment.

The morning after the sting, the press coverage began.
“The Sunpapers breaks the story,” Ahlers recalls, “that
Jackie Folio has committed a crime. That she put drugs on
an innocent suspect. And if you compare the stories in the
Sunpapers—there are two stories two days in a row—if
you compare that, it’s verbatim [from] the Leon Burgess
interrogation. Now, who would have leaked that? Well, the
department runs this ridiculous theory by me—Leon
Burgess called the reporter. The idea that he knows which
reporter he should talk to at the Sunpapers to generate an
article of interest, and that this was an [Internal Affairs]
undercover operation—a fact that was not known to him—
is absolutely absurd.”

Folio learned only earlier this year, in preparation for the
trial board, that Burgess was interrogated by Malone the
night of the sting—a fact that brings up another gripe from
Ahlers about how the case was conducted. After the
administrative charges were filed and the hearing
approached, both sides shared information in a legal
process called “discovery,” just as they had before the
criminal trial. This time, though, Folio and Ahlers received
evidence from the police department that hadn’t been
provided to them, as required, during the earlier criminal
proceedings. Some of the late-arriving evidence was
proving helpful in preparing a strong defense for the trial
board, but it also would have helped strengthen Folio’s
successful defense before Judge Stewart.

“The transcript [of the Burgess interrogation] was one of
the documents that was not produced by the police
[before] the criminal trial,” Ahlers stresses. “And the
person who makes the decision about what information the
police department gives to the state’s attorneys office, who
must provide it to the defense, is the chief of legal, Sean
Malone. So he intentionally did not disclose that.”

Actually, Malone at that time was not chief of legal—a
position department spokesman Matt Jablow says Malone
had left in 2002—so the difficulties Ahlers had during the
discovery process may not have been Malone’s fault. At
the time, Jablow explains, Malone was chief of special
projects, a job with vague and wide-ranging duties that
even Jablow couldn’t summarize. And yet Malone was
closely involved with the Folio case; when Ahlers phoned
the department to speak to the chief of legal about Folio’s
case, he says he found himself talking to Malone, who,
Ahlers says, represented himself as chief of legal.

Malone, now the city’s labor commissioner, did not respond
to phone calls or a letter hand-delivered and faxed to his
office requesting comment for this story.

Clarke Ahlers has been a lawyer since 1986, but before
that he had been with the Howard County Police
Department since 1972—initially as a 17-year-old cadet,
later as an officer. That helps explain why he was so taken
aback when he first spoke with Sean Malone on the phone
about the Folio case.

Ahlers says the conversation took place right after Folio
had hired him. (Herbert Weiner, an attorney for the
Fraternal Order of Police union, represented Folio when
she was suspended, right after the incident, but Folio hired
Ahlers shortly thereafter.) Having learned the details of
Folio’s case, Ahlers decided the best course of action was
to tell her side of the story to the department, which might
decide that charges weren’t warranted. So he contacted
the department’s legal affairs division, asked to talk to its
chief, and ended up talking to Sean Malone.

“In my mind I’m picturing a 30-year salty veteran,” Ahlers
recalls, “somebody who is a former police officer-turned-
lawyer, been around the block, and knows everything
there is to know.” In fact, at the time, Malone was 36. When
he’d been selected as the BPD’s top attorney in 2000, he’d
been a lawyer for 18 months. But he was a close friend
and adviser of Mayor Martin O’Malley’s, having managed
his election campaigns and been a bartender at McGinn’s
(now Mick O’Shea’s) where O’Malley’s Irish rock band often
played. Malone’s previous law-enforcement career before
becoming BPD’s top legal authority consisted of an
approximately six-month stint as a prosecutor in Baltimore
County.

Ahlers says he began his initial telephone conversation
with Malone by offering to give Folio’s side of the story in
hopes of preventing criminal charges. He says Malone cut
him off and insisted, in no uncertain terms, that Folio was
at fault in wrongfully arresting Burgess, end of story.
Ahlers says he countered that his client believed she was
making a legitimate arrest thanks to the bogus anonymous
tip describing a suspect; Ahlers says he was then shocked
to hear the police department’s ostensible top legal expert
counter that stopping a citizen under such pretenses was
unconstitutional, when in fact, Ahlers points out, it is quite
constitutional and standard police practice. Regardless,
Ahlers says, Malone was apparently unmoved by the
argument and cut the conversation short.

It all adds up, in Ahlers’ mind, to a Malone-inspired attempt
to hide Internal Affairs misdeeds. Malone, Ahlers allows,
“could fairly evaluate the case and say Jackie Folio did
something wrong. Reasonable minds can disagree. And I
respect if that’s his belief. And he has a job to do. What I
didn’t understand, until recently, was he was engaged all
along in protecting [Internal Affairs] from their misconduct.
Reasonable minds can’t agree about that. That’s not his
job.”

Folio was caught up in a “random integrity test,” ostensibly
designed to create a situation that any cop in the vicinity
could end up responding to, but she says she wonders
how random her test actually was. About a month prior to
the Burgess incident, Folio says, she responded as a
backup to a very similar (and fruitless) call for drug activity
a block from her Southeastern District post. And, she says,
her girlfriend, Officer Lisa Olszewski, believes she was the
target of a similar test set up two weeks after the Burgess
sting. Since Internal Affairs won’t tell officers when or
whether they’ve been tested, or if they passed, there’s no
way to know for sure if the incidents were, in fact, Internal
Affairs integrity tests.

Folio isn’t the only one with questions about the fairness
and effectiveness of the methods the BPD uses to police
its officers. A group of African-American officers filed a
discrimination lawsuit last December against the city and
the police department alleging that the department
selectively uses disciplinary procedures to discriminate
against certain types of officers. The lawsuit’s charges,
which go all the way back to 1992, include allegations that
Malone, as chief of legal from 2000 to 2002, discriminated
by initiating investigations of officers, deciding which
charges would be brought or dismissed, and influencing
the outcomes of charges against them, including in trial-
board matters.

The city’s response to the discrimination lawsuit casts off
the allegations as an “attempt to undermine the
disciplinary procedures” of the department, and claims that
Malone enjoys “absolute immunity for any claim arising
from their conduct in initiating and prosecuting disciplinary
charges.”

Of course, problems with the department’s self-policing
pre-date Malone. A 1996 study by the Baltimore City
Community Relations Commission determined that 75
percent of terminated officers were black, even though
black officers made up less than half the force. The study
also found that 90 percent of black officers who went to
department trial board were found guilty, while only 60
percent of white officers called before trial board met the
same fate.

The commission’s report prompted a probe by the City
Council’s Legislative Investigations Committee, headed at
that time by then-Councilman Martin O’Malley. At its
conclusion in 1998, O’Malley’s committee issued another
report that confirmed widespread disparities in the
disciplinary treatment of black and white officers,
concluding that the most shameful aspect of the findings
was “our failure to root out these problems when they are
brought to our attention.”

Steve Kearney, the mayor’s director of policy and
communications, says the police department under the
O’Malley administration in 2000 started the integrity test
program—the very one that netted Folio—as “a direct
outcome” of the 1998 report, and that, in addition, the
selection of trial board members has become random and
less politicized than in the past. Department spokesman
Jablow says that the IAD has conducted 460 integrity tests
since 2000 and that four officers have failed them. He
would not name the officers who failed; presumably, Jackie
Folio is one of them.

“I’ve never seen stuff like this,” says a 30-plus-year
BPD veteran who spent more than a decade doing internal
investigations. He asked not to be named out of fear of
retribution before his pending retirement. “It’s really gotten
out of control, with the state’s attorney working as an
instrument of [Internal Affairs], taking weak cases like
Folio’s, indicting, and losing,” the BPD veteran says. “It’s
done to harass, embarrass, and coerce [people] into
resigning. But I’ve never, ever seen them do what they’re
doing to Jackie—abolish some police officer’s position just
to avoid letting them have a trial board. It’s profoundly
befuddling.”

The “nucleus” of these problems, the veteran agrees, “is
Malone, but he’s the mayor’s guy, so nobody steps up and
objects.”

The way to make good police-corruption cases, he
advises, is to “do them targeted, based on good
intelligence—so-and-so’s dirty, so target him and find out.
Maybe it takes three, four weeks to set up a targeted, but
you end up with good, strong cases—and there are good
cases out there to be made.

“But the mayor likes randoms, because it represents
numbers,” the veteran continues. “With large numbers of
randoms—which take a few days to set up—you can rack
up the numbers and say you’re working hard to clean up
the department, even though all you’re really doing is
taking resources away from targeted cases. With randoms,
more times than not, you end up with nothing.”

Former BPD sergeant Andre Street, a 25-year veteran
who retired in 1995, remembers how random tests in the
past had to be designed for total control of the
environment. For example, Internal Affairs detectives might
have planted a couple of joints in plain view on the
floorboards of a patrol car: “They’d watch, do [the officers]
follow procedures? Do they keep it, whether for personal
use or as drop items to pin charges on a suspect? It was
controlled because it didn’t put citizens at risk. Whatever
you do you should do without involving the public. You
have to plan for every contingency and be prepared to pull
the plug at any time and say, ‘The gig’s up.’”

Ahlers, too, has a few ideas about how better to go about
catching corrupt police. “Almost every study ever done
about police corruption,” he asserts, “says that you look at
the vice and narcotics units, not patrol. If you’re trying to
find out if police officers get free coffee at 7-Eleven, yeah,
maybe patrol officers are involved in that. But if you are
looking for who is protecting organizations of criminals, you
have to look at units that go after organized crime. At that
level, what the criminal wants to know is, can they pay
somebody for information or can they pay somebody for
protection, and that’s really not going to happen at the
uniformed officer patrol level.

“There are a lot of ways they could do this. Instead, they
end up doing Jackie Folio and trying to cover up their own
culpability.”

In the Folio case, a poorly planned and executed random
sting netted a police officer allegedly lying in charging
documents and inadvertently raised questions that cut
right to the heart of how police are policed in this town. But
what happened to Burgess, the falsely arrested suspect?
His post-sting story suggests even more problems.

On April 15, 2003, about two weeks after the Folio sting,
Burgess allegedly sold drugs to an undercover officer on
the 3700 block of East Pratt Street and was charged with
conspiracy theft. On July 24 of that year, the state’s
attorney declined to prosecute the charges. On May 1,
2003, Burgess earned assault and deadly-weapon
charges thanks to his alleged connection with a large,
drug-related fracas in the 3600 block of Eastern Avenue,
but the state’s attorney declined to prosecute those
charges, either. On Aug. 28, 2003, Burgess was charged
with indecent exposure when he allegedly tried to force his
way—while openly masturbating—into a woman’s home on
the 2000 block of East Baltimore Street as she tried to stop
him. The state’s attorney declined to take those charges to
court, as well. On Oct. 29, 2003, Burgess was stopped on
Conkling Street in Highlandtown after police say they
observed him throw suspected drugs to the ground, and
then, after searching him, found more drugs. The
possession charge against him resulting from the incident
was not pursued by the state’s attorney’s office. Burgess
accrued all of these charges prior to his giving testimony at
the December 2003 criminal trial of Jackie Folio.

Burgess’ attorney, William Buie, tells City Paper he advises
his client, who is currently locked up and awaiting trial on
several violent charges, including rape, not to talk to the
paper while the current charges are pending. Assistant
State’s Attorney Thomas Krehely had not returned calls by
press time requesting an interview regarding the past
charges against Burgess, or any deal police and
prosecutors may have struck with him.

Burgess seems to have enjoyed extraordinary luck in
avoiding any recriminations for a time, but police and
prosecutors have managed to force Folio to retire, even
when they failed to prove she was criminally culpable for
pinning false charges on Burgess. And now, with
Commissioner Hamm having retracted his order forcing her
to retire, it is possible Folio may be asked to return to duty
and then fired by the department if she fails to comply.

On April 4, department spokesman Jablow told City Paper
that, in fact, Folio’s trial board hearing had been
rescheduled for later this month—and trial boards are only
held in matters involving police officers, not retired police
officers. Moreover, as this story was going to press on
April 5, the spokesman issued a written statement denying
that Folio’s being made the patsy for the department’s
failures.

“Agent Folio’s allegations of a conspiracy are entirely
untrue,” BPD’s statement reads. “The truth is that she has
been charged administratively with making a false
statement—a statement that resulted in an innocent man
being arrested. The citizens of Baltimore demand and
deserve better. In light of these charges, an internal
hearing board will soon be convened to determine if Agent
Folio violated police department policy.”

Folio laughs when told over the phone about the
rescheduled hearing—BPD told the press about it before
notifying her. “Isn’t that lovely?” she jokes. Then the
laughter stops, and her voice turns serious and sad.

“I feel like I’m in an abusive domestic relationship,” she
says. “I never thought I’d be going out like this.”
Reprinted with permission - © 2006 Baltimore City Paper
Folio properly submitted the contraband, but in her sworn
statement charging Burgess with the crime, she seemed to
state that she’d seen Burgess place the bag in the bushes.
“Prior to the call being received by Agent Folio, the officer
was patrolling that particular area and observed three B/M’
s at the intersection of E. Pratt St. and S. Ellwood Ave.,”
Folio wrote in her statement of probable cause to charge
Burgess. “Agent Folio observed one of the B/M’s
described as wearing a dark colored baseball cap, white T-
shirt, and jean shorts place an object onto the ground
behind a bush located against the NW wall of that corner.
This individual is further identified as the def. Burgess.”

On March 28, 2003, Folio learned she was in trouble, and
was immediately suspended. Although she had no
obligation to do so, she wanted to give a statement about
the incident because she believed she could convince
investigators—or even a grand jury, if it came to that—that
she was innocent. She got that opportunity on June 6,
2003, when she waived her rights under the Law
Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights and provided a
voluntary statement to Internal Affairs. The department
wasn’t convinced; a week later, on June 12, the Baltimore
City State’s Attorney’s Office indicted her criminally for
perjury and misconduct, saying she’d purposefully lied
under oath in order to maliciously pin false charges on
Burgess.

The Folio indictment appeared to confirm a bad-cop
stereotype—the aggressive enforcer who works poor,
black neighborhoods and already has a good idea who’s
guilty and who’s not, making it easy to pin false charges on
a passer-by and rationalize it as removing trouble from the
street before it actually happens. It’s offensive, it’s
unconstitutional, it’s criminal, and it’s happened before.
And Folio’s sworn statement of charges is what it is: Her
statement reads that she saw Burgess “place” the stash
behind the bush. In order to convict her, the state’s
attorney was going to have to prove criminal intent—that
Folio did it on purpose.  In December 2003, Folio was
acquitted of the criminal charges by Baltimore City Circuit
Court Judge Lynn Stewart, who didn’t explain her verdict
but apparently bought Folio’s apologetic explanation. Folio
testified that the allegedly false statement in Burgess’
charging documents was not intentional and malicious, as
the prosecution argued, but the result of vagueness due to
a run-on sentence.

“I know what happened that day was clearly in good faith
on my part,” Folio said on the stand. “When I say
‘observed’ in my probable cause statement, I was trying to
say that I observed the individual who was described by
the caller. And when I use the word ‘describe,’ that was
based upon the information I received from the caller—that
this person, in fact, did fit the description that was given
out.”

At the criminal trial, Folio’s long record of complaint-free
service, her stints as an academy instructor (she estimates
that 90 percent of the current force trained under her),
and a stack of letters praising her character and
professionalism all served to paint a picture of an officer
beyond reproach. But the question of her guilt or
innocence apparently remained open from the department’
s point of view. Though Folio was found innocent of any
criminal charges, nearly a year later, on or about Dec. 14,
2004, BPD decided to take its own crack at her, charging
her administratively for her statement in the Burgess arrest
papers. Folio could have volunteered to take a polygraph
test in an effort to clear her name, but her attorney, Clarke
Ahlers, says she never did because the tests are known to
be “unreliable”—especially when used to gauge a person’s
intent, which was the issue in her case. Nonetheless, “the
police department,” Ahlers stresses, “had the right to order
her to take one, and they never did.”
Folio’s administrative case would be heard by a police trial
board, with three members of the department weighing
each side’s arguments before deciding Folio’s professional
fate. But the trial board didn’t happen. On March 11, 2005,
one business day before the scheduled March 14 hearing,
Police Commissioner Leonard Hamm signed a letter
immediately ordering that Folio be “removed from her
regular permanent position as a Baltimore Police Officer,
without fault upon her part.”

Hamm’s move indefinitely postponed the trail-board
hearing and forced Folio to retire, which she did officially
on March 17. The next day, in order for Folio to be eligible
for city health insurance, she and her roommate, Lisa
Olszewski, also a city police officer, filed publicly as
domestic partners—a decision that was not made lightly,
since it officially outted them as a lesbian couple.
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Cops Stinging
Cops
In my book, and all over this site, I talk about integrity,
reasonableness, accuracy and how important it is to
develop systems and follow rules.  As a police officer, you
have a tremendous responsibility to maintain the highest
level of integrity, and the ability to reason and articulate
facts while following rules and...laws.

Unfortunately, most Americans, including police officers,
don't have a true appreciation of freedom, and the
realization of how fragile and tenuous freedom can be.  As
a police officer, you're going to have enormous powers
over others.  Only second to justifiably taking the life of
another person is the power to deprive a person of his or
her freedom.

During your career, you'll routinely deprive many people of
their freedom based on reasonable and articulable
evaluation of evidence and circumstances.  In the rare
instance where subsequent investigation, or emerging
facts, reveals you've arrested a person who is innocent of
the crime in question, you're bound by morality and law to
fall all over yourself to cause the immediate restoration of
that person's freedom.

A police department has the right and duty to develop
systems to monitor, evaluate, and conduct investigations
to ensure the integrity of its police officers.  As a police
officer, you should reasonably expect your department's
internal investigation process to adhere to the high
standards it demands from you.

Oh, well...nothing's perfect.  One would think that when it
comes to cops stinging cops, police would be especially
careful, competent, and thorough when exerting their life
altering power over other police officers.  People often
criticize police for giving special treatment to their own.  
While it's certainly true in some instances, it's by no means
a universal practice.  People are people, and they're either
reasonable and competent or they're not.  Police officers
aren't any different from anyone else in this respect.

Police officers often criticize the media for being
adversarial toward police. It's true that the media is
generally adversarial.  The reason should be obvious.  
There are a lot of powerful people, but none of those
powerful people have the breath of power you have.  Put
yourself in their place.  You're a politician, a judge, a
multimillionaire CEO, or any other kind of powerful and
influential person.  How would you view some 21 year old
kid with a badge, a gun, and handcuffs who could take
away your freedom for any number of reasons.  Get use to
it; it's just the way it is, because people fear power...as
they should.

When it comes to a police department accusing one of its
own of wrongdoing, the media usually doesn't go beyond
reporting more than the police department's version of
events.  But...every now and then a reporter digs and
strikes gold.  The series of articles reprinted here provides
a rare and detailed insight into cops stinging cops with
everybody getting stung.
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The series of articles reprinted here provides a rare
and detailed insight into "cops stinging cops" with
everybody getting stung.
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Copyright © 2018  Barry M. Baker  
CareerPoliceOfficer.com
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