ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – Maryland’s attorney general ordered troopers to drive him around with lights and sirens on, and to speed and run red lights on the way to appointments, according to written reports by state police officials.
Documents obtained by The Washington Post (
http://wapo.st/19uxLNb) also showed Doug Gansler directed troopers to bypass traffic jams by driving on the shoulder. In one case, police said Gansler insisted on driving himself, running red lights with sirens blaring.
Gansler is now a Democratic candidate for governor. His campaign released a statement Sunday after the police reports and memos were made public and said the accusations were part of a political attack.
“The picture being painted by these documents is not an accurate reflection of reality,” Gansler said in a statement. “I deeply respect the troopers, the job they do protecting me and the public. A few of the 18 troopers who have provided me protection felt my backseat driving made them uncomfortable _ for that I apologize.”
The campaign said Gansler considered the matters settled in 2011 after he met with Col. Marcus Brown, the superintendent of state police.
At one point Gov. Martin O’Malley was briefed and authorized police to take whatever action they deemed necessary, including revoking Gansler’s transportation services, the newspaper reported. O’Malley has since endorsed Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Gansler’s opponent in the Democratic primary for governor June 24.
The episode highlights the bitter race developing between two of the state’s highest officials.
Gansler was elected attorney general in 2006. The tension between him and state troopers lasted for at least five years, according to a December 2011 memo by Lt. Charles Ardolini, the commander of the state police executive protection section.
“This extremely irresponsible behavior is non-stop and occurs on a daily basis,” Ardolini wrote in the memo. “Attorney General Gansler has consistently acted in a way that disregards public safety, our troopers’ safety and even the law.”
Ardolini wrote that he made troopers driving state executives sign an order to adhere to the state’s “Emergency Driving” policy on when to use lights and sirens. Troopers were instructed to provide written accounts of any problems.
Within months after the 2011 memo, troopers reported problems. In one trip between Baltimore and Annapolis, a trooper driving Gansler came upon an accident that stopped traffic. The trooper, whose name was redacted from state documents, was told by Gansler to drive on the right shoulder. The trooper complied, and they ended up passing the governor’s vehicles that were stopped in traffic.
Ardolini’s memo said Gansler also insisted on driving with lights and sirens to breakfast meetings and to his children’s sporting events.
According to a December 2012 email, Gansler told a trooper he planned to drive himself to a Washington Redskins game and that he would use “emergency equipment” because he was running late. Troopers also reported seeing damage on the attorney general’s SUV that they did not cause.
The problems began when inexperienced troopers were assigned to Gansler, said Bob Wheelock, Gansler’s campaign spokesman.
“Doug was feeling like he was being given second-tier or too recently trained troopers,” Wheelock said. “They were very inexperienced, and several of them didn’t know the area well.”
Maryland State Police spokesman Greg Shipley said the executive protection section has no “second-tier” troopers.
Information from: The Washington Post,
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