Bealefeld shows flag for traffic court bill
Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick Bealefeld underscored how strongly the state's law enforcement agencies feel about a bill that would put the burden on ticketed motorists who want a trial to request one by making a personal plea to the House Judiciary Committee to OK the legislation, which he estimated at $1 million a year.
Like many other high-ranking police officers from around the state, Bealefeld cooled his heels for hours waiting to testify on the bill, which came up for hearing after 6 p.m. -- long after many witnesses had to leave. Vallario, clearly no fan of the bill, barely concealed his disdain for the legislation and disputed many of the police chiefs' contention that their officers' time was being wasted showing up for trials at which the defendants fail to appear.
Bealefeld resisted the impulse to engage with Vallario, but another witness -- Phil Hinkle, a Calvert County attorney representing the sheriff's department there -- did not. He took a court docket sheet Vallario had passed around to support his contention that officers' time isn't being wasted because they would have to be in court anyway -- and publicly demonstrated how the docket proved the very opposite by enumerating the many cases in which police are summoned to traffic court for only a few cases.
Hinkle clearly won the debate, but Vallario holds the gavel. Despite the contention of local governments throughout the state that the bill would save them millions and help put officers on the street, this bill is clearly going down in the House without the personal intervention of Speaker Michael E. Busch -- the only person in Annapolis Vallario has to listen to.