Maryland State Police Superintendent Edward T. Norris quit after being charged with illegally spending about $20,000 in Baltimore police funds while he was the city’s top officer. The Baltimore Sun says the money was used to cover personal expenses, including romantic liaisons with several women. Norris, 43, who is married, and is expected to appear in U.S. District Court today. Norris’ former city chief of staff, John Stendrini, was also indicted. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. named Thomas E. “Tim” Hutchins, Maryland secretary of veterans affairs, a retired state trooper and former state legislator, as acting superintendent.
Among the revelations in the indictment:
* Norris made repeated trips to New York, where he had romantic encounters with women while staying at trendy hotels and dining at expensive restaurants.
* The former commissioner bought personal items – from money clips to clothes, including a leather jacket for $371.61 – and stocked hundreds of dollars worth of liquor in his home.
* He bought gifts for himself and others, including items for three women from a Victoria’s Secret store around Valentine’s Day 2001.
U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio said, “If a police commissioner repeatedly lies, cheats and steals and we look the other way, what message does that send to law enforcement officers on the street as they face opportunities of corruption every day?” When asked what Norris should have bought with the expense account, DiBiagio said, “Bulletproof vests for his officers.”
Gov. Ehrlich left open the possibility of Norris’ return if he were acquitted.
The Sun said that with Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley’s support, Norris employed tactics he brought from New York, establishing both ComStat and a warrant squad. He flooded chronic crime areas with extra officers to quash violence. He shook up command ranks and started a foundation to buy much-needed equipment and to finance the mayor’s anti-drug Believe campaign. He prodded his internal affairs unit to launch stings to weed out corrupt officers.
After terrorists struck on Sept. 11, 2001, he made homeland security a top priority and journeyed to Capitol Hill to testify that federal agencies were not doing enough to prevent terrorist attacks. He soon became a national spokesman for local police chiefs on the need for more federal cooperation in preventing terrorism.
Norris later conceded that his anti-terrorism focus distracted the department from its primary goal of reducing violence locally. The city finished the year with 256 killings. The next year, the number dropped only slightly – to 253. “My legacy [as Baltimore commissioner] shouldn’t be that I bought steaks in New York,” Norris said in a July interview. “This just isn’t fair. … I led the country in violent-crime decline. Love me or hate me, but I did a lot for the city.”