Chief Demotes Two Police Administrators

Two longtime D.C. police administrators have been demoted, effective immediately, Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said yesterday.

Fourth District Cmdr. Melvin Scott, who joined the force in 1981, was demoted to captain after he failed to deliver a status report on an investigation into money missing from a station safe that had been left open.

"He had done virtually nothing," Ramsey said. "An issue as important as this, there's just no way the proper oversight shouldn't have taken place."

Cmdr. Abraham Parks was named interim commander of the 4th District in Northwest Washington until a permanent replacement is named by a panel of police administrators, Ramsey said.

Field Cmdr. Charles Fonville was demoted to captain after he parked his personal car in a no-parking security area and got into an argument with a federal police officer who threatened to give him a ticket.

The incident happened last month, and Fonville allegedly hit the leg of a member of the Federal Protective Service with his car door after the federal officer ordered him to move his vehicle.

Fonville, a 27-year member of the force, was arrested, handcuffed and detained. Ramsey ordered an internal investigation and found that Fonville's conduct "was not consistent with what I expect from a command member of my staff."

Clinton Signs Budget Bill for City

President Clinton signed the District's budget bill yesterday for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. The $4.7 billion spending plan has millions of dollars to expand services, including drug treatment and testing and the care of foster children, and to make other improvements, such as adding a lane to the 14th Street bridges.

The bill includes an $18 million fund for D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) to use for severance payments to as many as 1,000 city workers who could be terminated. The mayor recently said he wants to tap that fund to pay one-time, $1,700 bonuses to 6,500 unionized city employees. But the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on the District said such a use would be illegal because it wasn't in the bill.

The D.C. budget was part of a mammoth $390 billion spending plan signed by Clinton. Congress added money for the police to wipe out open-air drug markets, a tuition support program allowing D.C. high school graduates to attend Maryland and Virginia colleges and universities, and an expansion of the city's foster care staff to ensure that children in foster care are quickly moved to permanent adoptive homes.


Montgomery Starts Sobriety Checkpoints

Law enforcement officials are boosting patrols and setting up sobriety checkpoints on Montgomery County roads in an effort to curb drunken driving during the holiday season.

The effort began a week ago and will last through Jan. 3. So far, police have arrested 41 people and issued 58 citations for underage drinking, said Lt. Thomas Didone, director of the county police Alcohol Initiative.

Seven Montgomery officers have been assigned to the task force, in addition to officers from the U.S. Park Police, Maryland State Police, Rockville City Police and Montgomery County sheriff's office.

Officers said they stopped about 1,000 drivers at a sobriety checkpoint in Silver Spring on Saturday, arresting eight for driving while intoxicated and one for driving under the influence of drugs.

Deer Hunter Wounded in Adamstown

A man was wounded in the shoulder yesterday in the second shooting of a hunter since the deer season opened in Maryland on Saturday.

Kevin Beachley, 37, of Jefferson, was hit in the right shoulder by a slug fired from a 12-gauge shotgun shortly before 9 a.m. while hunting on a farm in Adamstown. He was wearing a hunter-orange hat and jacket, according to Department of Natural Resources police.

Beachley was reported in fair condition at Washington County Hospital.

Police were investigating and had not filed charges against the Frederick man who fired the shot.

On Saturday, a 16-year-old Baltimore boy shot himself in the foot while hunting in Cambridge. His gun fired while he was taking the safety off, DNR officials said.

Germantown Collision Kills Two Men

Two people were killed and two injured last night when a sport-utility vehicle and a car collided in Germantown, Montgomery County police said.

A Ford Bronco was traveling north on Frederick Road at Gunners Branch Road about 8:15 p.m. when it collided with a Subaru that was turning left from the southbound lane into the Fox Chapel Shopping Center, said police spokesman Derek Baliles.

The driver and passenger in the Subaru, both men, were pronounced dead on arrival at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, Baliles said.

The 17-year-old driver of the Bronco was flown by helicopter to Suburban Hospital, where he was listed in fair condition, a hospital spokeswoman said. A 16-year-old passenger in the car was treated for minor injuries at Shady Grove, Baliles said. The names of the dead and injured were not immediately disclosed.

Baliles said the crash was under investigation.


Officials Call National Park Fire Arson

A fire that burned more than 1,500 acres earlier this month in Shenandoah National Park was caused by arson, authorities believe.

The blaze, called the Bootens Gap Fire, was first reported Nov. 16, and burned 1,579 acres of woodland before it was brought under control Nov. 21. About 250 firefighters battled the blaze in the park's rugged central section and in the Virginia Rapidan Wildlife Management Area, park spokeswoman Lyn Rothgeb said. There were no injuries reported among the firefighters, and no homes were threatened, she said.

Rothgeb said investigators believe the fire was set, but she declined to say why, citing the ongoing investigation. A $2,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to a conviction. Anyone with information should call 1-800-732-0911.


"It's certainly been our feeling at the museum that we should honor the legacy of both Hsing-Hsing and Ling-Ling in some manner fitting to the contribution that they made to our understanding of the need for conservation of endangered species."

-- Randall Kremer, spokesman for the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, where the body of Hsing-Hsing, the panda that died Sunday, will be preserved and be put on display early next year.