27 arrested after driving to probation meetings Their licenses had been suspended

July 02, 1998|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

Twenty-seven people whose licenses had been suspended for driving while drunk or drugged were arrested after they drove to meetings scheduled with probation officers, Baltimore County police said yesterday.

The two-day sting operation, which ended yesterday, was patterned after a similar one in Annapolis that was launched when counselors who monitor convicted drunken drivers noticed many of their clients driving to their appointments.

"Driving up for a parole hearing -- is that blatant or what?" said Lt. Thomas J. Busch, an Essex officer and one of nearly 30 who worked on the sting at the courthouse in the 8900 block of Kelso Drive.

"I realize transportation is difficult. However, if you know it's against the law " said Rick Adams, the acting director of the state's drunken-driver monitor program.

Adams, other probation officers and undercover police detectives from Essex spent the afternoon yesterday and Monday in the courthouse at a heavily tinted window with a view of the parking lot. As people drove in and walked toward the door, parole officers identified them by name and police officers checked their list of drivers with suspended licenses.

Outside, teams of officers ran tag numbers and described those who drove in to others nearer the door, who were poised to make arrests when the driver was found to have a suspended license.

Despite the element of surprise, arresting officers encountered little resistance.

"Most of the people have been cooperative. If anything, they're more embarrassed than anything else," said Lt. Minda F. Foxwell, a traffic officer who helped organize the sting. "The idea is, we get the word out -- if you're suspended or revoked, we're going to get you."

Those arrested were taken to Victory Villa Elementary School, where a temporary command post and booking center was set up in the gymnasium. After being booked, those arrested were handcuffed and taken back to Essex District Court in groups of four for bail hearings.

The sting was funded with state grant money, Foxwell said.

Adams said it was the first time that the state Division of Parole and Probation and Baltimore County police have collaborated this way -- but probably not the last.

Pub Date: 7/02/98

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