The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating an assistant police chief who refused to give an officer his license and vehicle registration after the officer had pulled him over for driving more than 20 mph over the speed limit in Southeast on Tuesday.
It was the second time in a little more than a year that the officer ticketed Assistant Chief Willie Dandridge for speeding on that stretch of road, police union officials said.
Chief Dandridge was driving an unmarked cruiser on Branch Avenue Southeast near Alabama Avenue about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday when the officer clocked the cruiser traveling at 46 mph on a two-lane stretch where the speed limit is 25 mph, union officials said.
Police sources familiar with the incident said it is under investigation, but police spokesman Sgt. Joe Gentile would not confirm that a probe is under way.
“It’s not the department’s policy to confirm or deny a potential investigation or identify a possible subject of an investigation,” Sgt. Gentile said. “If an allegation is made against one of our members, we will conduct a thorough investigation.”
Chief Dandridge heads the Regional Operations Command-East, which oversees the 6th and 7th Police Districts. He has been a Metropolitan Police officer since 1985 and was formerly commander of the 6th District, where the incident occurred. He was promoted to assistant chief in July 2004.
The police department declined a request for Chief Dandridge to be interviewed for this report.
Sgt. Gregory Greene, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police, Metropolitan Police Labor Committee, said the officer involved in the incident has been on the force for 18 years and asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.
The officer was off duty and lives in the neighborhood where the incident occurred, Sgt. Greene said.
The officer, who was in uniform and wearing an orange visibility vest, told Sgt. Greene that he stepped into the street and waved for the cruiser to pull over.
Sgt. Greene said the officer told him that Chief Dandridge turned on his lights and sirens, diverted into another lane and drove around the officer.
The officer got into his marked police cruiser and followed the chief until he pulled into the Violent Crimes Unit at 3244 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Sgt. Greene said the officer asked Chief Dandridge to show him his license and registration. The chief did not provide the documentation but repeatedly told the officer that his radar gun was calibrated improperly.
The officer, who is certified to operate the radar gun, offered to show the chief documentation of the gun’s calibration. The chief then walked away from the officer.
Sgt. Greene said the officer submitted the ticket to the Department of Motor Vehicles and reported the incident to his union representative and the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility.
“Speeding has always been an issue and a concern on Branch Avenue,” said Vincent Spaulding, president of the Hillcrest Community Civic Association and an Advisory Neighborhood Commission commissioner in the Ward 7 neighborhood where the incident occurred.
Mr. Spaulding said police officers who live in the neighborhood often monitor traffic with radar guns during off-duty hours because of community concerns. It is not uncommon to see drivers reach speeds of as high as 50 mph, he said.