Council Votes 'No Confidence' in Police Chief
The vote passed by a 4-3 vote with newcomer Councilman Peter Smith casting the deciding vote.
The Anne Arundel County Council passed a vote of no confidence in Police Chief James Teare Sr. on Monday by a narrow margin.
The legislation, sponsored by Jerry Walker (R-7th District), originally called for Teare to be suspended by the county executive. But after talking with county attorneys, Walker said he decided to change the wording to "a vote of no confidence in Chief Teare's ability to lead the police department."
Council Chairman Derek Fink (R-3rd District) called the motion “political grandstanding,” by Walker. Fink joked with Councilman John Grasso (R-2nd District) during the meeting that it was merely a tactic of Walker’s to get their names in newspaper headlines.
Walker said he drafted the legislation in response to Deputy Police Chief Emerson Davis’ testimony to the council on April 2, during which Davis said dysfunction within the police administration has given the department a "black eye."
“A vote against this resolution is equivalent to an ostrich sticking its head in the sand in an attempt to ignore the facts,” Walker said.
Fink questioned Walker's basis for such a strong assertion and said the council was taking an action that would “ruin” Teare’s career.
“I think we’re condemning this man,” Fink said. “He has been charged with nothing, he has been found guilty of nothing and he has done, to the best of our knowledge, nothing wrong.”
The council subpoenaed Teare for questioning in March, but during their interview, Teare came armed with attorneys and deflected most questions. Teare said that his answers would be in violation of the grand jury's secrecy laws. The Maryland state prosecutor is currently investigating allegations of misconduct by County Executive John R. Leopold.
During the council’s vote, newcomer Councilman Peter Smith (D-1st District) hesitated, holding the gaze of his councilmen for a few moments before voting in favor of the resolution. It passed by a 4-3 vote with councilmen Dick Ladd (R-5th District), Fink and Grasso voting no.
After the meeting, Smith said during that moment of pause he was gauging how a commander’s leadership affects the rank-and-file both in the police department and in the military. He said that helped him make his decision.
“In the military, if it’s found that a commander’s leadership has inspired a lack of confidence, they can be relieved,” Smith said. “In this instance, I think the military and the police department are very similar in their command structure.”