Maj. Nathan Warfield, picked in 2009 by Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III to root out corruption within the department, was reassigned a week after Bealefeld said the arrest of Officer Daniel G. Redd proved his agency would not tolerate misconduct.
Earlier Monday, The Baltimore Sun had asked the department to comment on pictures posted on Facebook showing Warfield socializing with Redd and a man named Sam Brown, who was also charged this month in a separate heroin distribution conspiracy. Through a spokesman, Bealefeld declined to comment.
Warfield has not been accused of wrongdoing. But sources say the department was concerned about Warfield's social relationship with Redd and didn't want a cloud over his head. Warfield did not return messages seeking comment.
"Just being associated with Redd in any way shape or form — there's questions that need to be answered there," said one police source who was not authorized to talk about the case. "In that position [with internal affairs], there's no room for errors."
Some of the Facebook pictures appear in an album titled "Nate Warfield Party" and depict the 21-year veteran police commander in the Bourbon Street club in April 2009, posing separately with Redd and with Brown, a car dealer. In one snapshot, Brown has his arm around Warfield.
At the time the photo was taken, Brown had a criminal record, and Redd was being skipped over for promotions and was under suspicion of wrongdoing, eventually leading the department to summon the FBI.
Department regulations prohibit officers from "making personal contacts with persons of questionable character."
Christopher Dreisbach, an ethics professor with the Johns Hopkins University Division of Public Safety Leadership, said police are held to a higher standard when it comes to relationships and affiliations, but he believes Warfield deserves the benefit of the doubt.
"I can easily imagine that this major had no idea about the drugs" and other allegations, Dreisbach said. "I don't see anything wrong with [his ties to Redd] on its face, especially given how close people are in a police agency."
In addition to the party pictures, Redd and Brown are also shown standing together at a bull roast, and on Warfield's Facebook page, he and Redd are depicted holding up a trophy at what appears to be a basketball tournament. Before his internal affairs promotion, Warfield was Redd's supervisor as the commander of the Northwest District.
Federal prosecutors charged Redd last week with running an extensive heroin operation over a six-month span, with the FBI saying he even dealt drugs in the parking lot of the station house on Reisterstown Road. Brown is in federal custody as well, charged in a separate drug case in Baltimore.
In a case unsealed July 15, Brown was charged with conspiracy to distribute heroin. Records do not contain details of the case, but it does not appear to be connected to the case against Redd.
Documents from a July 20 detention hearing show that federal prosecutors asked that Brown be held "based on the amount of drugs involved, unlawful possession of ammunition, [and] controlled purchases from [the] defendant at place of employment." The document also says Brown has a "criminal history including five arrests" and "two prior convictions."
Brown was charged in the late 1990s in separate incidents with first-degree murder, handgun violations and assault with intent to rape. All of those charges were dropped by city prosecutors, and it was not clear what charges he was convicted of.
Warfield is generally well-regarded in the agency and was picked by Bealefeld to lead internal investigations in mid-2009 after the agency dismissed internal cases against 12 officers and the police union accused an official of manipulating documents.
Then-Mayor Sheila Dixon called the department's internal investigations a "weak link" and praised Warfield's selection, saying he "has a very good set of skills in investigations." He is the third and longest-serving internal affairs commander under Bealefeld's tenure.
Since then, only one case handled by the unit has become public — a botched "integrity sting" that caught an officer stealing drugs and money from an undercover cadet in the Northwest District but which quickly came undone after prosecutors said investigators made several mistakes in documenting the case.
Bealefeld said he had tasked Warfield with identifying and pursuing officers who downgrade or fail to report crimes, but the agency has not publicized any such cases and has generally disclosed less about internal discipline than the agency had in previous years.
Anthony Guglielmi, the Police Department's chief spokesman, said he did not know why Warfield was removed from his post Monday but said his new assignment will be as the watch commander, helping to manage major incidents within the patrol division.
Martinez Davenport, a 28-year veteran who oversaw a revamped Inspections Unit, will take control of internal investigations on an interim basis.
In a two-paragraph news release, the agency said it would begin an external search for Warfield's permanent replacement.
Known as "Fat Sam," "Big Sam" and "Sam Rothstein," according to court records, Brown was charged along with six other men in a drug dealing conspiracy that appears to stretch from the Eastern Shore to Baltimore, court records show.
Brown works for Pimlico Motors, a car dealership located in Northwest Baltimore, which placed Brown on suspension after authorities took computers from the dealership's office, according to Diane Davison, an attorney for the company. On his Facebook page, which has a Web address of "akaSamRothstein," Brown lists his favorite movie as "Casino," in which Robert DeNiro plays a character by that name.
Multiple sources say Redd had been under suspicion for years. The department said last week that at some point it contacted the FBI and requested that the agency investigate Redd. Court records show a wiretap investigation commenced in January and allegedly caught Redd arranging drug deals while on the job.
The Police Department said the case, like the towing scandal earlier this year that implicated more than 50 officers, was proof that the department is investigating itself.
Redd's attorney has declined to comment on the allegations lodged this month, and court records show Brown does not have an attorney.