Thursday, May 04, 2006

Spot the Misconduct

According to Drudge Report and Roll Call, Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) got into an early morning accident in Washington, DC. Capitol Police observed the Congressman as he got out of the vehicle and noted that he was staggering about and claimed that he was late for a House vote. Officers at the scene attempted to conduct an investigation but were called off. According to Drudge:
“The driver exited the vehicle and he was observed to be staggering,” Baird’s letter states. Officers approached the driver, who “declared to them he was a Congressman and was late to a vote. The House had adjourned nearly three hours before this incident. It was Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy from Rhode Island.”

Baird wrote that Capitol Police Patrol Division units, who are trained in driving under the influence cases, were not allowed to perform basic field sobriety tests on the Congressman. Instead, two sergeants, who also responded to the accident, proceeded to confer with the Capitol Police watch commander on duty and then “ordered all of the Patrol Division Units to leave the scene and that they were taking over.”

A source tells the DRUDGE REPORT: "It was apparent that the driver was intoxicated (stumbling) and claimed he was in a hurry to make a vote.

"When it became apparent who it was, instead of processing a normal DWI, the watch commander had the Patrol units clear the scene. The commander allowed other building officials drive Kennedy home."
CNN has some additional information about the accident:
Rep. Patrick Kennedy, son of Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, crashed his car into a barricade on Capitol Hill early Thursday, the Rhode Island Democrat said.

"I was involved in a traffic incident last night at First and C Street SE near the U.S. Capitol," Rep. Kennedy said in a written statement. "I consumed no alcohol prior to the incident. I will fully cooperate with the Capitol Police in whatever investigation they choose to undertake."

Louis Cannon, of the DC Fraternal Order of Police, told CNN that, according to officers on the scene, Kennedy had the "odor of alcohol about him."
It's rather difficult to know for sure whether Kennedy had indeed consumed alcohol because no tests were administered. A real question exists as to why that was the case and should be investigated. We'll also have to wait and see whether the accident and ensuing events were caught on a videotape as the Drudge account says that the car first nearly hit a police vehicle before crashing into a security barricade at First and C streets Southeast. That's in the vicinity of Fort Leslie J. McNair.

Assuming that all the information presented thus far is accurate, can you spot the possible crimes and misconduct here?

1) Kennedy's driving a vehicle in an unsafe condition (the vehicle was being driven without running lights at 2:45 AM EDT.
1a) Kennedy driving the vehicle under the influence? This is unknowable because no sobreity tests were apparently conducted.
2) Who told police at the scene to stop their investigation and not conduct a thorough examination?
3) Why was the investigation stopped?

The police labor union officials want acting Chief Christopher McGaffin to allow a Capitol Police officer to complete his investigation. The fact that officers on the scene were apparently prevented from conducting a thorough investigation into Kennedy's accident, including the administration of a breathalyzer, is quite troubling. Allowing the investigation into Kennedy's accident should be the beginning.

Rep. Kennedy is the son of Massachusetts senior Senator Edward Kennedy.

Stop the ACLU has a roundup of reaction, which roams into New York Post headline territory with the comedic and sarcastic possibilities including from Ace, Confederate Yankee, Allahpundit, GOP and the City, Political Pitbull (with video), and Michelle Malkin.

This is yet another high profile incident where the Capitol Police conduct has come into question. First, there was the State of the Union incidents where Cindy Sheehan and the wife of a member of Congress were pulled from the gallery on grounds that they were violating rules though it later turned out that there were no such rules. Then, there's the infamous Rep. Cynthia McKinney incident where she apparently ran through a security checkpoint and struck a police officer who tried to stop her for proper identification. This latest incident doesn't look good for the Department's professionalism.

The officers of the Capitol Police have to do an extremely difficult and sometimes quite dangerous job. They have a very high profile job and come into contact with very important people, including members of Congress on a regular basis. Their job is to protect the federal government and insure that the business of government operates safely and securely. That they're now involved in yet another dustup suggests that the problems may be more serious than just a run of bad luck. I really hope that this gets looked into.

Point Five has a get out of jail free card for Kennedy. Expose the Left has more video.

Rep. Kennedy apparently released a second statement saying that he was taking sleep medications that could make him drowsy:
Kennedy, D-R.I., addressed the issue after a spate of news reports. His initial statement said: "I consumed no alcohol prior to the incident."'

Later, however, he issued a longer statement saying the attending physician for Congress had prescribed Phenergan on Tuesday to treat Kennedy's gastroenteritis.

Kennedy said he returned to his Capitol Hill home on Wednesday evening after a final series of votes in Congress and took "prescribed" amounts of Phenergan and Ambien, another prescribed drug that he occasionally takes to fall asleep.

"Some time around 2:45 a.m., I drove the few blocks to the Capitol Complex believing I needed to vote," his second statement said. "Apparently, I was disoriented from the medication."

Kennedy appeared to be intoxicated when he crashed his Ford Mustand into a barrier on Capitol Hill early Thursday morning, said Louis P. Cannon, president of the Washington chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.
Well, that still doesn't explain why he wasn't given a sobreity test after the accident or why officers at the scene claim to have smelled alcohol. Something is definitely amiss here.

Curious. Very curious.

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