Baltimore police are fighting the release of a secret audit that found a number of officers misrepresented their educational credentials in order to wrongly receive pay raises and bonuses, court documents show.
The audit, performed in April 2014, was conducted after an anonymous tipster told Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts that a high-ranking commander had used a bogus degree from a diploma mill to earn a bonus.
The commander, Lt. Col. Clifton McWhite, resigned and was later criminally charged with theft.
In new court papers filed in McWhite’s case, officials acknowledge the audit and say it “identifies named BPD employees that have had their educational pay benefits discontinued for not having the required credentials to receive said pay benefits, and who have now been referred to internal affairs.”
The acknowledgement comes from an attorney for the Police Department who wants the audit kept confidential, but City Councilman Brandon Scott, vice chair of the public safety committee, says the audit should be “absolutely” released.
“If there’s been an audit done on the use of city taxpayer funds to see how people are earning city taxpayer dollars, people should have the right to see it,” Scott said.
Police Department attorney Brent Schubert said in court documents that records of which officers receive educational incentives are personnel and should not be disclosed. He is asking the court to require the document be kept confidential.
Salary information for city employees is public record and posted on the city’s website, but police have refused to release detailed information about McWhite’s promotions and corresponding pay raises.
Police also have not provided information on how much educational bonuses are worth or what requirements are necessary to receive them.
Documents filed in the McWhite case show Deputy Police Commissioners Jerry Rodriguez and Dean Palmere had confronted McWhite about an anonymous letter sent to Batts that claimed McWhite had a bogus degree, along with other allegations.
“When questioned regarding his college transcript, Lt. Col. McWhite admitted that he does not hold a bachelor of science degree,” Palmere said. “In fact, his transcript was inaccurate and falsified.”
McWhite resigned at that meeting. He was charged in October 2014 with taking $1,700 in extra pay. Lawyers argue McWhite, who is African-American, is being discriminated against as he has been the only officer in the department charged in connection with the audit.
“It is the defendant’s understanding that other similarly situated white officers who have been accused of receiving a fraudulent educational incentive by the internal affairs division have, in fact, not been charged with theft as Lieutenant Colonel McWhite, a black male, has been in the instant matter,” McWhite’s attorney, Ivan Bates said.
Investigation into the matter will continue.