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Thurmont police file appeal in lawsuit

Chris Patterson

Six members of the Thurmont Police Department have filed an appeal to a decision by a Frederick County Circuit Court judge to dismiss their case against the town and three other persons.

The police officers are Shawn R. Tyler, Jeffrey T. Gerring, Christopher A. McLoughlin, James N. Davis, Michael A. Figgins Jr. and Richard T. White.

On Sept. 10, Judge G. Edward Dwyer Jr. granted a request by the town and fellow defendants former Chief Neil Bechtol, current Chief Terry Frushour, and Lt. Troy Angell to dismiss the case because he determined there was no "genuine dispute" as to material facts in the case.

Less than a week later, on Sept. 16, the police officers' attorney, Michael J.Belsky of Schlachman, Belsky and Weiner of Baltimore, filed a Civil Appeal Information Report with the Court of Special Appeals in Annapolis declaring the intent to appeal the case.

The information report was required within 10 days of the decision, and indicates that the appeal stems from a pre-trial motion and hearing on July 28, 2004.

The report asks the appeals court to determine whether the trial court made a mistake in its decision and in the basis of its decision to dismiss the case.

The original complaint to the court was that the officers were illegally video and audio-taped in former Chief Bechtol's office in 2002 without their knowledge or consent. Additional claims stated the officers were monitored on their squad car radios, also without their knowledge or consent.

In July, the court dismissed the mayor and town commissioners as defendants. At that time, the court also dismissed some of the allegations.

In the decision received by the town on Sept. 13, Dwyer explained that the town did not intrude on the privacy or seclusion of the officers by making the tapes because the taping was done in the chief's office, which is regularly used by up to nine people.

"It cannot be said that the [officers] had a reasonable expectation of privacy...," he wrote.

In the matter of intercepting communications on the car radios, Dwyer wrote that again the officers could not have had any reasonable expectation of privacy.

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