Womer was speeding, ran stop sign, chief says

August 17, 1993|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Staff Writer

Friction between Hampstead Police Chief Kenneth Russell and town council member Dwight Womer erupted into sparks during a discussion of traffic enforcement last night when Chief Russell accused Mr. Womer of running a stop sign and speeding.

Their argument began during the council's discussion of a suggestion by the chief to remove the stop sign at the entrance to Gaming Square.

Mr. Womer opposed the idea, saying, "You're giving in to people who have a direct disregard for the law."

Chief Russell said, "This probably could cost me my job," and then said one of his officers had seen Mr. Womer speeding and running a stop sign before the meeting. He did not say which stop sign or how fast Mr. Womer was alleged to have been traveling.

"Chief, that is not correct. . . . I stopped at that sign," Mr. Womer said, adding, "It may have been a quick stop."

"What speed was I doing?" Mr. Womer asked. "Where's the radar report?" He also asked why he had not been given a ticket or a warning if he had broken the law.

Chief Russell said, "You were given a verbal warning. I just gave it."

A motion by Councilman Gary Bauer to remove the stop sign died for lack of a second.

After the meeting, Chief Russell said he did not know how fast Mr. Womer had been driving and declined to say where the alleged incident occurred.

He said Officer Paul Steinmetz was on duty last night.

Asked why Officer Steinmetz had not issued a warning, Chief Russell said, "His judgment was better than mine, probably. I'll be gone tomorrow, probably."

After the meeting, Mr. Womer said, "I know that he [the chief] is out to get me, because we've been feuding since the crosswalk." He referred to his campaign for a crosswalk at North Woods Trail and Boxwood Drive. Chief Russell opposed the plan.

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