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June 11, 2009

Do legislators get tickets?

A woman who wishes to remain anonymous sent me an interesting email after reading my June 8 column of the driving record of speed-camera arch-foe and General Assembly super-lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano. Her story had nothing to do with Bereano but involved some people he knows well.

Many years ago, this woman writes, she was a lawly temp worker for the union of the Maryland State Police. A young probationary trooper was brought into the office of a union leader. It seems the novice trooper had landed himself in hot water when he stopped a state senator for speeding (my correspondent recalls hearing something about 95 mph). Apparently, this idealistic young officer of the law refused to be bullied by the legislator's claim of important business in Annapolis and had the temerity to issue a ticket.

It seems the state senator complained to the governor, who then complained to the superintendent of state police, who landed with both feet on the neck of the young trooper. The officer was apparently on the verge of losing his job, but the union leader intervened and talked management into reducing the punishment to a "note" in the officer's file.

According to my correspondent, the union leader sat down with the young trooper and explained the facts of life: The state police do not issue tickets to state senators and delagates no matter how fast the're going.

Now this reportedly occurred back in the glory days of the "culture of corruption." The governor is long out of office, as is the superintendent. The allegedly lead-footed legislator no longer sits in the Senate of Maryland.

If there was  a time when legislators could expect a break from Maryland State Police at traffic stops, a spokesman Greg Shipley assured me that is not the case now.

"They certainly are to be treated like everybody else," he said.

Shipley said the only immunity legislators have is from arrest when involved in debate in the Senate or House of Delegates.

Shipley said new officers are trained to apply the law equally. "There 's no special class in the police academies saying let the senators and the delegates go," he said.

I've dealt with Shipley a long time and consider him a straight shooter. Would it be naive to think the bad old days are over? If you have information about this question, please send it to michael.dresser@baltsun.com.

Posted by Michael Dresser at 1:39 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: On the roads
        

Comments

This is true. The police only take care of there own. I have yet to see one of those personal vehicles with the FOP or FP tags getting a ticket. I drive 50k miles a year (and have no tickets). Those FP tags are ...wink..wink...police family driving those cars and trust me they never get a ticket. That's not me saying that, that's cops who live in my neighborhood saying that and it's all jurisdictions.

I'll share a little story with your readers. One day on southbound I-95 there was a little fender bender between two cars, both on the shoulder, minimal damage. It was two women and both were standing on the left shoulder talking on their cell phones and a trooper was writing a report. I could see all of this because the traffic, as in most mornings, was only moving at 10 -15 mph. My guess is the one lady stopped too fast and the other lady ran into her rear. Like I said, minimal damage to both vehicles. So I am about a few hundred yards before the accident scene, driving in the left lane at about 20 mph and I can see all of this in front of me. On the left shoulder in my mirror I see this State Trooper with his lights and siren on screaming down the shoulder and behind him is a little honda with an FOP tag racing behind him. They pass me at about 50 mph. When I get up to the accident, the guy driving the Honda is hugging one of the two women. Gee, when my wife gets in an accident, I hope I get a police escort to the fender bender, yea right!

And my ultimate favorite is all of the police, from every jursidiction, riding down the shoulder in the morning to bypass the traffic. OK, the JFK barrack I can see, maybe going to a call, but the EASTON and College Park barracks????? You know those letters on their tags tell what barracks they work at. And what is the unmarked "Prisoner Transport" SUV that goes down the shoulder every morning with his flashers on, what's up with that?

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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.
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