Since July, 2007 Napoleon Queen has been a volunteer firefighter in Prince George’s County, Maryland. This was the 39-year-old Queen’s second firefighting stint in the county. His first one ended abruptly in 1990 when he was arrested for arson.
According to Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department Chief Spokesman Mark Brady, Queen has been responding on emergency calls with the Ritchie Volunteer Fire Department (Station 837) despite Ritchie’s leadership being notified in September that Queen is a convicted arsonist. Ritchie Volunteer Fire Department president Dave Crigger says no one at his station ever received that notification.
Crigger says about eight hours after STATter 911 began asking about Napoleon Queen on Tuesday, Queen was told he could no longer respond on calls. Spokesman Brady says our questions have prompted an investigation into why Ritchie’s leadership failed to act on the September order. Brady raised the possibility of disciplinary action.
Brady said, “We notified the appropriate responsible individuals of the leadership of that particular station and we expected them to follow through with our orders”.
In an email response to questions, Dave Crigger wrote they were notified in recent weeks that there may be issues with Queen, but it didn’t come from PGFD: “Yes, notification was received about a month ago from a letter in the mail. It was not from a fire department source. We inquired to the county regarding this matter and had not had a response until Tuesday, February 5th in the afternoon from Mark Brady”.
Crigger points out that, “We do not do background checks, that is the responsibility of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS.”
Court records and news archives identify Queen as a member of an arson ring involving ten volunteer firefighters. Queen and some of those arrested belonged to the Boulevard Heights VFD (now Station 817). The rest were from the District Heights VFD (now Station 826). Most of those arrested were junior members, between 16 and 18 years of age. Napoleon Queen was 21-years-old in September, 1990 when the arrests occurred.
Napoleon Queen in 1990 mug shot provided by PGFD investigators
Maryland Court records show Queen entered a guilty plea on two counts of setting fires to homes. He was sentenced to 10-years in prison with all but 4-years suspended.
State of Maryland court records, like the one above, can easily be found on-line at this address: http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us/inquiry/inquiry-index.jsp
Ritchie VFD, a private corporation, is all-volunteer with no career staff. According to Mark Brady: “The fire chief has limited authority in that particular station. It’s not like we can do bed checks every night to see who is sleeping in that particular station. And it’s up to the volunteer corporation to police their own members.”
Until Wednesday, the Ritchie VFD website, Ritchie37.com, listed Napoleon Queen as a live-in member. His name has now been removed. Dave Crigger, said while Queen rode with the company, he was not a member.
President Crigger said Ritchie VFD, “is currently working on a resolution to prevent this from happening in the future”.
When asked about PGFD’s responsibility in this matter, spokesman Brady indicated the problem was not at their end: “I think it goes back to supervision. What red flags should have been put up through this process between September and now is something we are going to take a look at. Where there any flaws in our system? We don’t believe so.”
STATter 911 could not reach Napoleon Queen. His last known address was the Ritchie fire station.