Thursday, October 29, 2009

Police Officer Suspended for Ticketing Mayor's Son


STOCKTON -- A traffic stop involving a young officer and the son of a small-town mayor has the whole town talking. The mayor of Stockton tried to fire the officer for issuing his son a ticket.
Cpl. Joshua Rowell told KSL News he was just doing his job. He said he acted professionally when he wrote the driver a ticket and was shocked when he was suddenly asked to hand over his badge.
Rowell is a new member of the five-man Stockton police force. So, last Tuesday he didn't think twice about pulling over a driver in a small white car for avoiding a DUI stop.

"He didn't have a driver's license, so I issued him a citation for that," Rowell explained.
He didn't think twice, that is, until he handed the ticket to the court clerk.
"She looked at it and said, ‘Hey, you know you just gave the mayor's son a ticket?' And I said, ‘Oh, crap,'" Rowell said.
He said he had never met the driver, 29-year-old Jared Rydalch, before. He said Rydalch told him he was out looking for his dog, and asked him to tell the other officers to not pull him over again.
"I told him, ‘No. If I see you driving around again, I'm going to pull you over again,'" Rowell said.
Rowell said he knew there was trouble when, about 20 minutes later, he found the chief of police in the mayor's truck in a heated discussion. Then he said the mayor, Dan Rydalch, rolled down the window and demanded he get in his truck. When he refused, Rydalch abruptly fired him on the spot.
"He told me, ‘All right, I want your badge in the morning,'" Rowell said. "I tried to defend myself and say, ‘First of all, look, he was breaking the law. Second of all, I didn't know he was your son.'"
Shortly after the incident, Rowell was told he was suspended without pay, indefinitely.
"The mayor, I think, was wrong," said Stockton City Council member David Durtschi.
According to Durtschi, not only was Mayor Rydalch out of line, the council stands behind Cpl. Rowell. In fact, the town is so upset about the mayor's actions, many of the citizens are trying to change their write-in ballots for the upcoming election.
"I think the mayor did make a mistake," one Stockton resident told KSL News.
Another said, "I was very shocked, very shocked, because I thought it was a little extreme."
As for Rowell, he just wants the job he loves back.
"There's no more respectable position than a police officer, in my mind," Rowell said.
We tried repeatedly to get ahold of the mayor.
Another Stockton city council member, Kendall Thomas, told KSL News the mayor is conducting the investigation into any wrongdoing in the incident and has not consulted any of the council members. A special council meeting is scheduled for Thursday night to discuss the incident.


This is ridiculous. This mayor needs to be fired immediately. Notice above where it says that "The mayor is conducting the investigation into any wrongdoing in the incident and has not consulted any of the council members..."

WTF?! The mayor is conducting it? Can anyone say "conflict of interest"?

The mayor should be fired for, and charged with, Official Misconduct. Ridiculous. I grew up in a small town, and I thought the politics there were bad. But seriously.


TRUTH 101 said...

Did the kid have a license but not have it with him? If so the officer could have easily found out and told him to go home and get it.

There's more to this than what we've got so far as to the officer's response. I know someone will quickly chime in about the law being broken James. But how many of us really think we deserved the all the traffic tickets we got.

The mayor could have gotten the city attorney to drop or reduce the ticket to something innocuous. The mayor went overboard, admittedly.

Sandy said...

I was about to jump on the bandwagon with you James until I read Truth's comment. Me thinks he is living up to his name! Maybe there's more to the story. If not, you are right and the town needs to find a new mayor immediately.

James' Muse said...

Truth, what got me is that the city council members are saying this was bad. Plus, by involving himself, firing the officer and bypassing the chief of police, AND by doing his own investigation, he is guilty of major official misconduct. By involving himself so heavily in a conflict of interest, he broke numerous ethical, and most likely legal, issues.

The Mayor should be the one fired, not the officer.

I think we've been getting most of the story when everyone BUT the mayor is saying that the Officer was right.

TRUTH 101 said...

There's always more to the story. At this point, there is most likely enough to convict the mayor of something, at least enough to boot him out of office.

I'd just like to know more. Is there a history of bad blood between the mayor and the officer. Or their families? Maybe the mayor thought his kid was being stalked by the officer.

Most likely the mayor is a jerk and his kid a spoiled brat. But we live in a Jerry Springer world James. Let's make sure of things before we convict. The mayor, the officer and the kid aren't going anywhere.

James' Muse said...

Truth, the Officer was new, the mayor's "Kid" was 29 years old and wanted his daddy to use his power to get him out of a ticket and fire the officer that told him to obey the law. It's actually pretty clear cut here: The Mayor abused his power. The Officer did his job, didn't know the guy was the mayor's son, and got punished for it. There really isn't any excuse for what the Mayor did whatsoever, while the officer only did what he was hired to do.

It's pretty cut and dried for everyone, including the city council there.

I hope the Mayor is at the least fired immediately, possibly prosecuted for Official Misconduct. We have enough corruption in politics.

Patrick M said...

101: There's more to this than what we've got so far as to the officer's response. I know someone will quickly chime in about the law being broken James. But how many of us really think we deserved the all the traffic tickets we got.

I can say I deserved all of them. and I have more experience getting tickets than you. Trust me on that, unless you're a chronic traffic violator.

TRUTH 101 said...

You don't seem to have a gift for tact Patrick. I don't doubt you deserved your tickets.

I still would like to know if the 29 just didn't have his license with him. If he was being a jerk, sure he deserves a ticket and a court appearance. Sometimes the police can over react also James.

James' Muse said...

He said he didn't have it with him. Most of the time, those are "fix-it" tickets, Truth. Meaning, don't get another one, bring your license to court, and the court drops the ticket. The police officer said to go get it before continuing to drive.

Then the mayor got involved.

The police DO overreact on occasion, Truth, you're right there.

But not in this case. The "kid" deserved the ticket, and the mayor deserves to be fired. Not the Cop. It's clear cut in this case. There really isn't any way around it.

James' Muse said...

Also, most of the time, in small towns, driving w/o a license is a ticketed offense all the time. Especially as it usually gets lowered or dismissed in court if one can prove they just forgot their license but are licensed.

So it doesn't matter if the 29 yr old was a jerk or not. He didn't have his license, he got a ticket, and thought he could have his daddy get him special protection. Daddy commits official misconduct.

Pamela D. Hart said...

I was under the impression that you had 24 hrs to produce your drivers license. Not that I drive w/o mine. I guess I better check my state law just to be sure, eh?

Anyway, the cop may have over reacted since he was "new", as many "new" officers do, i.e. nervousness, trying to make a name for themselves, etc. But it seems the cop was still within the legal realm in issuing the ticket. The "kid" (yikes 29) figured he'd tell daddy and get out of it, and daddy DID try to use the weight of his title to get his kid off the hook. Although, why they consider a small ticket a big deal is a mystery. Unless there is more to this story as Truth suggested.

In any case, no one in any office should use their position as a tool when someone breaks the law, regardless of the offense.

Let us know how this plays out, James, it should be interesting.

Susannah said...

Impeach the jerk - like yesterday.

And I'll admit that I've deserved many more tickets than I've actually received. (Somebody, quick! knock on wood really hard!)

James' Muse said...

More of the story did come out, Truth. Seems like the more that comes out, the more the townspeople and the city council are seeming to "agree" with me (being that we've never actually spoken).

I posted an update, just for you. :)