- The Washington Times - Monday, January 16, 2006

BALTIMORE — Police Commissioner Leonard Hamm pledged yesterday to use a screening process for officers and to clean up a department shaken by scandal after three officers were charged with raping a woman at a police station.

Commissioner Hamm said the charges were “an embarrassment to us all,” and he said an investigation continues into the officers’ specialized squad, which focuses on drug arrests.

“Our job now is to be sure that we clean our house, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Commissioner Hamm said at a press conference, with Mayor Martin O’Malley by his side.

Commissioner Hamm said he was bringing back old standards that the department used in 1996 that later were eliminated. The screening process — including polygraphs and drug testing — will apply to officers who want to be assigned to specialized units.

Officers also will be rotated out of special units after three years. The commissioner said three years was found to be “the amount of time that helps stop corruption from creeping in.”

Officer Jemini Jones, 28, was indicted Jan. 6 on charges of having sex with a 22-year-old woman in exchange for her release. His attorney, Warren Brown, says his client is not guilty.

Officer Jones and two other officers, Brian Shaffer, 28, and Steven Hatley, 27, are charged with rape, violation of official duties and conspiracy to commit rape in the Dec. 27 incident in the department’s Southwestern District. They have been suspended without pay.

Officers Hatley and Shaffer are accused of not doing anything to stop the rape.

“Our citizens should be assured that we will follow up on complaints,” said Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat running for governor.

During the investigation into the rape charges, police found drugs in officers’ lockers and drawers, according to court papers.

The rape charges sparked a larger probe of the Southwestern District, police spokesman Matt Jablow said. Three other persons have been suspended in the wake of that investigation, including Sgt. Robert Smith, who supervised the squad.

Officers Valentine Nagovich and Mohammed Ali also have been suspended. Another officer, Vicki Mengel, was suspended in November after getting arrested at a high-stakes poker game.

Prosecutors say hundreds of court cases have been compromised by the officers’ arrests.

The indictments were announced two days after Mr. O’Malley and Commissioner Hamm were booed by city residents during a state legislative hearing about law enforcement in Baltimore.

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