Short police academy student flunks driving test

May 24, 1992|By Roger Twigg | Roger Twigg,Staff Writer

Just days before Latisha L. Price was scheduled to graduate from her 26-week Baltimore police academy class, she flunked a driving test on a police car and was fired.

Ms. Price has a valid state driver's license, but at 4 feet 11 inches she has trouble reaching the brake and accelerator pedals on the large patrol cars.

The department is currently preparing to change its fleet to midsize Ford Tauruses, because of a high accident rate among young officers unfamiliar with the larger Chevrolet Caprice.

But the switch was too late to help Ms. Price.

"I was told that if I didn't do well, they were going to put me on foot patrol anyhow," Ms. Price said.

"I don't think they should have done this to me. I think I should still be in the department."

Sam Ringgold, a police spokesman, said Ms. Price -- who was scheduled to graduate from the police academy Tuesday with her 32 classmates -- took 8 minutes to finish driving a course that is supposed to take only 3 minutes.

Passing the Maryland Police Training Commission driving requirements is mandatory for all officers, Mr. Ringgold said, even if they are to work on foot patrol.

The police spokesman said Ms. Price successfully completed all other aspects of her training and her height had nothing to do with her dismissal.

By law, the Police Department cannot hire or fire people because of their race, age, sex or height.

Ms. Price, who was a police cadet for 20 months before applying to the department when she turned 21, said that she hopes her dismissal had nothing to do with her sex or height and that she still looks forward to a police career.

"I thought it would be something different . . . exciting," she added.

She said departmental officials told her she could take the driving test again in 60 days.

If she passes, they will reconsider her without requiring that she go through the academy training again, she added.

Ms. Price said she is hoping that the department will have the mid-size Ford Taurus by then.

"I think I can drive that one," she said.

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