The Riverdale mayor and Town Council have decided to reprimand Police Chief Alfred Barcenas for fabricating a story about a judge working undercover to evaluate the town's police officers.
In approving the reprimand on Monday, town leaders ignored a recommendation from the 11 members of the police department that the chief be replaced.
Mayor Moreland Perkins and the six council members met Monday night in a closed session to discuss Barcenas. The chief reportedly had told a reporter for The Washington Times last week that Prince George's Circuit Court Judge Jacob S. Levin deliberately drove his car without headlights to test officers' arrest procedures in alcohol-related traffic offenses.
The story was front-page news. Town officials later said Barcenas told them he made up the story to protect his officers and the judge.
Barcenas could not be contacted for comment yesterday.
Two Riverdale police officers had stopped Levin about 10 p.m. Aug. 18 as he drove without headlights along Kenilworth Avenue. The officers arrested Levin on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. Levin, who does not drink, requested a breath test, and the results showed he had no alcohol in his system, officials said. No charges were filed against the 63-year-old judge.
The Riverdale Fraternal Order of Police took a no-confidence vote on Barcenas on Monday night and presented the nearly unanimous results to town officials along with a recommendation that Barcenas be dismissed, according to two sources familiar with the officials' meeting.
The council discussed firing Barcenas, a source said, but decided to enter a reprimand in his personnel file.
Barcenas, 42, was appointed chief in late 1985. His predecessor, Leo W. Link, resigned amid allegations that while intoxicated he had threatened a neighbor with a handgun. Link eventually was acquitted of assault and battery charges.
Three years before that incident, Link had been charged in Anne Arundel County with breaking and entering and disorderly intoxication. The charges were dismissed.