Officers suspended as City Police face second probe

The Salisbury Police Department is facing a second major internal investigation in a matter of weeks, following the suspension of three police officers and an Assistant State’s Attorney.

All four law enforcement figures are receiving scrutiny for possibly withholding evidence and pertinent information in a 2011 criminal case in which three accused people pleaded guilty.

Police Chief Barbara Duncan said prosecutors in the Wicomico State’s Attorney’s Office uncovered a troubling 2011 memorandum in its files and notified City Police on Feb. 12.

Duncan said the officers were immediately on paid leave, cautioned that no charges had been filed and said an internal investigation was under way.

“We’re going to afford our officers all the due process, which they are entitled to by right,” Duncan said, “but the public needs to know that in the event that our officers’ conduct is found to be outside of our standards, then that will be met with the appropriate disciplinary actions.”

Duncan also made clear that this investigation is wholly separate from another probe that is continuing — in that case a Police Department Evidence Room civilian employee is suspected of stealing evidence obtained from suspects awaiting judicial proceedings.

She said the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore had been contacted to initiate a federal review. 

Prosecutors on Feb. 21 filed a disclosure in Circuit Court, announcing their discovery and citing the need for an official probe. State’s Attorney Jamie Dykes, who was elected to her post in November 2018, issued a statement revealing that one of her employees was also involved.

“The state was made aware of information that is potentially exculpatory; we are fulfilling our legal and ethical obligations,” she said of the discovery filing. “This information may impact pending criminal cases and whether or not there are other pending investigations, I am not at liberty to say.

“As a result of receiving this information, a prosecutor is on leave pending further information.

We have faith and trust our court system to make appropriate determinations at the appropriate time.” Dykes said.

Duncan also stressed that she was strictly following procedures regarding placing her officers on a paid-leave status and conducting an internal probe. Only at the conclusion of the investigation, she said, will there be a determination about what possible actions should be taken regarding the officers.

The Chief also said the public should retain trust in the department, despite the current swirl of controversy and dual investigations.

“We have committed individuals who work very hard to build trust every single day with every encounter that they have with our public,” Duncan said. “That’s what they’ve been sworn to do — to serve and protect. And they believe in it, and they’re going to continue to do that.”

Duncan began her tenure as Chief in 2011; Matt Maciarello, now a Circuit Court Judge in Wicomico and Dorchester counties, began serving as State’s Attorney at the beginning of that year.

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