A quotation in a story regarding D.C. police detective Michael Hubbard in yesterday's editions in which a police official indicated support for Hubbard's position should have been attributed to William Dixon, assistant chief in charge of inspectional services.
As a crack, undercover D.C. narcotics detective, Michael Hubbard's livelihood depends on his ability to mask his identity and infiltrate the underworld of illicit drugs and organized crime.
When Hubbard thinks of trouble, he recalls the $250,000 weekly cocaine ring he helped infiltrate in 1979, or the big wiretapping case he broke last fall. When Hubbard thinks of trouble, he thinks of having his cover blown.
That happens to many undercover agents sooner or later, but it happened to Hubbard in a most peculiar and frustrating way. It was, he says, a police department yearbook that did him in.
Recently, the D.C. force updated its picture files and prepared a large glossy yearbook for sale to the general public. While the pictures of most police officers were to appear inside, the publisher agreed to exclude those of Hubbard and other undercover policemen so their true identities would not become public.
When the 222-page yearbook was published last year, an astonished Hubbard found his photograph -- in living color -- right there on page 160.
"I couldn't believe it," Hubbard said, "I'd like to find out who has these books. I'd like to know if I'm walking into places where they already know who I am."
Last week, Hubbard filed a $750,000 lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court against the Walsworth Publishing Co., a Missouri firm that published the yearbook. His lawsuit claims that by including Hubbard's photo in the yearbook, the company has subjected the undercover cop and his family to a continuing fear for their safety by "exposing them to severe danger by the criminal underworld."
The lawsuit also says Hubbard will be less effective. Because his line of work often involves posing as a narcotics pusher and selling thousands of dollars of illicit drugs to other dealers, Hubbard fears that his investigative targets -- generally suspicious types anyway -- now will be able to match his face up and discover his true identity. a
"If his duties with the police department are not curtailed, he certainly would have to curtail them himself," said Hubbard's attorney, Alan P. Bayles. "He's scared to turn his back on a lot of things."
At the time the photos were taken in October 1977, Hubbard, an eight-year police veteran, was on an especially sensitive assignment with a joint D.C.-federal Drug Enforcement Agency task force. He says he insisted that his picture not be included in any publication.
"I didn't want to have it done," Hubbard said. "The word was out that the book company had agreed to honor everyone's request to publish or not. But they wanted everyone to submit to have his photo taken, and in return, would update the police department's file photos. I was told by my captain to report down there and have my picture taken."
When Hubbard later learned that copies of the book were available and that his photo was inside, he sent a friend with $22.50 to the department's Public Information Office "to see how easy it was to get one." His friend returned with a copy.
Alfonso Gibson, head of the criminal investigations division for D.C. police, said yesterday that there "might be some legitimacy" to Hubbard's concern. "I don't know whether at the time the pictures were taken, that was thought out as well as it should have been." Gibson said. "I do think he has a point. It does to some extent inhibit the undercover assignments he might be assigned to."
A spokesman for the publishing company could not be reached yesterday for comment.
Hubbard says he believes that in some cases officers who asked that their pictures not appear were in fact excluded from the book. Other investigators, he says, are angry that their photos were included and Hubbard says he may broaden his lawsuit to include them.
This is not the first time Hubbard's picture has appeared in print. Last year, while working on the narcotics task force, Hubbard was photographed testifying before the House Select Committee on Narcotics after busting a $250,000 weekly cocaine ring in Northern Virginia. A picture of Hubbard -- complete with a full beard -- was published in a local newspaper.
Hubbard rectified the situation by shaving off his beard. "I was able to change my appearance drastically," he said.
The photo in the police yearbook has left Hubbard in an impossible situation, he says, because it shows him without his beard. Says Hubbard: "I can only either have a beard or not have a beard."