October 23, 2009

Of course, the local cops are calling it a "rookie mistake":

A Dallas rookie police officer erred when he cited a woman earlier this month for being a non-English speaking driver, police said.

Officer Gary Bromley issued a citation Oct. 2 to 48-year-old Ernestina Mondragon after stopping her for making an illegal U-turn in the 500 block of Easton Road, near East Northwest Highway, according to a copy of the citation.

"That's a charge that does not exist here in the city of Dallas," said department spokesman Sgt. Warren Mitchell. "Although we believe it was a sincere mistake ... there's no excuse for it."

He said that charge and a charge of failure to present a driver's license were dropped.

Bromley, 33, is a trainee officer in the Northeast Patrol division. His trainer on the date the ticket was issued was Senior Cpl. Daniel Larkin, 53, said Deputy Chief Tom Lawrence, Northeast Patrol commander.

Under the Dallas City Code, taxi drivers must be able to communicate in English. Mitchell said there is also a federal statute that says commercial drivers must speak English, but it would not have applied in this case.

Seems to me the problem is not merely with Officer Bromley's assumptions about Driving While Mexican, but those of his training officer, who presumably oversaw the citations as Bromley was writing them up.

Of course, if Officer Bromley winds up washing out in Dallas because of this, he needn't worry. He would probably be welcomed at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department with open arms.

UPDATE: Now the Dallas police chief is admitting that there have been dozens of such tickets:

Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle said this afternoon that his officers have written at least 39 citations to people over the past three years for not speaking English.

Apologizing publicly to the city's Spanish-speaking community, the chief said all officers and supervisors involved will be investigated for dereliction of duty. All pending citations will be dismissed, and people who paid fines will be reimbursed.

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