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Cromer speedy to accuse police of 'vendetta'

June 14, 2008

The Hagerstown Police Department recently issued a written "warning" to Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer rather than a speeding ticket after she allegedly was caught driving 43 mph in a 25-mph zone.

Despite the slap on the wrist, Cromer now alleges that some city officials, including members of the police department, have a vendetta against her and want to harass her.

Why?

Well, according to Cromer, it's because she is questioning the validity of the city's take-home vehicle policy while gas prices continue to soar. The police department drives 19 of the 48 vehicles that are part of the city's take-home vehicle program, according to a recent story written by Herald-Mail reporter Dan Dearth.

Oh, I also should mention that Cromer said the police officer, in his report, "lied" about certain comments she made after she was stopped near downtown Hagerstown on May 26.

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Now, here's what I don't understand.

If Cromer is right, this means that the police officer somehow picked the councilwoman out of a line of three cars while she was driving a vehicle that wasn't even her own (she said she was driving her husband's car).

Then, the officer radioed his supervisor to get an opinion on what to do - apparently after Cromer asked, "Do you know who I am?"

The supervisor tells the police officer to use his discretion on whether to issue a warning or a ticket.

Now, stay with me here because this is where it becomes even more interesting.

The police officer decides to give Cromer only a written warning, even after, he claims, she made several "sarcastic" comments to him, including cutting him off in mid-sentence while he was trying to explain the 25-mph zone was to help protect pedestrians walking to City Park.

This also would be a good time to mention that Cromer couldn't find the car registration and told the police officer that she left her driver's license in her luggage.

Can you imagine what would be going on right now if the police officer had given Cromer a speeding ticket?

I guess we all should be grateful because this could have been blown into a full-scale, top-secret, back-door, governmental conspiracy rather than just a simple vendetta.

I like Councilman Lewis C. Metzner's comment on how elected officials should handle matters such as this in the future.

In a story we published Saturday, Metzner said he would have insisted on receiving a ticket.

While I'm sure the police department issues tickets for speeding more than 18 mph over the speed limit, I'm also quite sure - as in the case with Cromer - that they have let people off with warnings.

But elected officials should hold themselves to a higher standard.

Giving elected officials traffic tickets rather than written warnings takes away any perception they are above the law or are getting special treatment.

But since that isn't likely to happen, the rest of us only can hope that the police have a vendetta against all of us.

Terry Headlee is executive editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7594, or by e-mail at terryh@herald-mail.com.

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