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Friday, July 18, 2008

Power and the police

Interesting indeed were the media reports detailing the recent motor vehicle stop of West Ward Councilwoman Annette Lartigue’s daughter for talking on a cell phone and other infractions.

According to the officers involved in the stop, Ms. Lartigue told the officers over a cell phone to “stand down” during the traffic stop. Also, the councilwoman’s daughter told the officers that “she was related” to Mayor Douglas H. Palmer, and then asked if she needed to “get them involved.”

The officer conducting the stop – a low-ranking patrolman – eventually called his supervisor in to monitor the situation, which seemed like a good move. It looks like the patrolman got someone with more authority to come in and monitor the situation, thereby providing good oversight and better protection from the political forces at work in the Trenton Police Department.

Naturally the councilwoman is denying much of what has been reported on and what was included in the official police reports detailing the stop. Ms. Lartigue told the Times’ Kevin Shea that she was being targeted for political reasons, and that the entire story was “crap.”

Interestingly enough, a Paterson councilwoman who also interfered with a traffic stop ended up receiving numerous criminal charges for her actions, although the circumstances of that incident were quite different.

A Paterson resident happened to be pulled over by a non-Paterson police officer, but the councilwoman decided it was her business to see what was going on, and then argued with the officers.

A crowd gathered, and Councilwoman Vera Ames-Garnes ended up getting charged with obstructing the administration of law, obstructing highways and other public passages, disorderly conduct, and a fourth-degree charge of riot and failing to disperse.

It should be interesting to see if and how area law enforcement officials handle this situation.

It looks like a case of an attitude that has become quite common in Trenton among public officials in positions of power, who develop an attitude that their positions come with an ability to influence law enforcement and provide protection to associates not normally afforded to regular citizens.

And, judging by the police account of what Ms. Lartigue’s daughter said, it looks like such an attitude may have become a family affair.


Old Mill Hill said...

The driver was in violation of the law.

The police stopped and cited her.

That should have been the end of the story.

The Councilwoman never should have asked to speak to the officer. She would have been wrong to do so even if she wasn't an elected official.

The officers and the Sgt. showed class and professionalism in the way that they handled the incident.

The same cannot be said of Ms. Lartigue...regardless of whether she told the officer to "stand down" or not. She should, at the very least, apologize to the police and to the public.

As for the daughter, she needs to be ordered to take some lessons in civility, decorum and manners.

G Spot said...

She will do that after she takes driving classes so she can get her license.