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 firstname.lastname@example.org.