Police call for nonpolitical responses after Kennedy crash

The Capitol Police force’s labor union yesterday demanded that officers be allowed to do their jobs uninhibited by politics.

The move by the Capitol Police Labor Committee follows criticism of police handling of a car crash last week involving Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.). 

“It is our desire that the men and women of the United States Capitol Police be allowed to perform their duties and responsibilities without fear of reprisals or to curry favor with anyone,” the union’s statement said.

The national Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), a bigger police union, accused the top brass of “political decisionmaking” last week, citing the fact that there was no investigation after Kennedy crashed his car into a security barrier at C and 1st streets S.E. early Thursday morning.

Jim Pasco, the FOP’s executive director, said the lack of investigation was unacceptable but symptomatic of the way the department has been run since Chief Terrence Gainer quit April 6.

On Thursday, the Capitol Police launched an investigation into the incident to determine if protocol was violated and whether Kennedy should be charged for any misconduct.

The incident report records that after his green Ford Mustang convertible hit a security barrier at 2:45 a.m. the lawmaker’s “eyes were red and watery, [his] speech was slightly slurred and upon exiting the vehicle his balance was unsure.”

A field sobriety test was not administered, and two sergeants who responded to the incident drove the lawmaker home after dismissing the officer who initially attempted to pull Kennedy over.

As a result of the continuing police investigation, the watch commander who authorized Kennedy’s ride home and prohibited the sobriety test was relieved of his duties and reassigned Friday.

The Capitol Police did not return a call for comment.

Kennedy later said the accident was a result of mixing the sleep drug Ambien and the antihistamine Phenergan, which he was taking for a stomach illness.

He said he had not been drinking alcohol before his crash, although the police report indicated that alcohol had been a factor.

On Friday, Kennedy announced he would be seeking treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for a prescription-drug addiction, noting he was “deeply concerned” that he did not remember the early-morning crash.

“I simply do not remember getting out of bed, being pulled over by the police or being cited for three driving infractions,” Kennedy said. “That’s not how I want to live my life, and that’s not how I want to represent the people of Rhode Island.”