Anne Arundel County Police Chief Col. James E. Teare Sr. appeared Monday night before the County Council but declined to answer questions under oath about allegations of misconduct by County Executive John R. Leopold, citing the ongoing criminal investigation.
Teare was placed under oath and answered general questions from council members about himself and Police Department rules but told the council he had testified twice before the grand jury investigating Leopold and could not publicly repeat that testimony.
"With all due respect, at the advice of counsel that I would be breaking the law. … So I respectfully decline to answer questions."
Teare's attorney, Gerard P. Martin, told the council that the two decided to comply with the council's subpoena despite an earlier assertion that Teare would not appear. However, Martin said, "The grand jury is still active, and the investigation is ongoing. … He's not going to answer any questions."
Deputy County Attorney David A. Plymyer told the council that members could consider filing a motion in county Circuit Court to compel Teare to answer questions.
Before Teare's testimony, Peter I. Smith, a Severn Democrat, was sworn in as a council member, replacing Daryl D. Jones, who is imprisoned on a tax-related conviction.
Discussing Teare's appearance, Council Chairman Derek Fink, a Pasadena Republican, said, "It's unfortunate that we weren't able to have a conversation. We didn't get anything accomplished tonight."
Questions about Teare's knowledge have mounted since Leopold was indicted this month on four counts of misconduct in office and one count of misappropriation of funds. The indictment alleges that he used his taxpayer-funded security detail to perform personal and political errands, including transporting him to sexual rendezvous with a county employee and compiling information on his political opponents. He has said he would deny the charges and fight them in court.
The indictment alleges that Teare was aware of the misconduct but took "no effective action." Teare has not been charged.
David Rocah, an ACLU attorney who attended the meeting, said Teare could have answered questions.
"I was just flabbergasted," he said. "What you're not allowed to do is say what you told the grand jury. What he can do is testify about his knowledge about what he knew and when without in any way, shape or form referencing his grand jury testimony."
Two county police unions have called for Teare and Leopold to resign.
Councilman Jerry Walker, a Gambrills Republican, asked Teare, "Are you still in a position to lead the department effectively?"
The chief replied, "Absolutely."
When Walker pressed him, saying, "…But they don't want you as chief," Teare dismissed the question and said, "Thank you."
Baltimore Sun reporter Andrea F. Siegel contributed to this report article.