Del. Cardin's Folly

Our View: It's Not That 'Distraction' That Needs Explaining, It's The Lack Of Judgment

November 25, 2009

It's no wonder the city police union is objecting to the suspension of the officer who helped organize Baltimore County Del. Jon S. Cardin's bone-headed marriage proposal stunt, in which officers staged a fake raid on a yacht last August while a police helicopter hovered overhead. Unless it was this anonymous officer's idea - which seems unlikely - shouldn't the elected official who thought he could get away with such a debacle be the one to bear the brunt of the blame?

Baltimore Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III pledged to conduct a thorough investigation into how this harebrained stunt got past his chain of command, which apparently was unaware of the delegate's shenanigans until after the event. But this week's announcement that an unnamed officer will be subjected to unspecified penalties for misconduct the department is refusing to detail falls far short of the full accounting that Mr. Bealefeld promised.

We still don't know who approached whom, who was involved in planning the episode and how many people knew about it. A friend of Mr. Cardin reportedly concocted the scheme in which officers in a city police patrol boat boarded a pleasure craft moored in the Inner Harbor, where the delegate had taken his fiance? to pop the question. When officers ordered the startled young woman to turn around so they could handcuff her, there was the lovestruck lawmaker on his knees, holding out a ring.

Baltimore's finest already had their hands full just keeping visitors to the harbor safe. Only the previous weekend, two people had been shot inside the Light Street Pavilion at Harborplace, and the summer saw a string of other violent incidents that unnerved area business owners and customers. How could Mr. Cardin have thought that diverting police manpower and equipment to a private party just so he could make a splashier marriage proposal was a justifiable use of taxpayer dollars?

By the following week Mr. Cardin seemed to have recognized the error of his ways. He apologized to Commissioner Bealefeld and promised to reimburse the city for the department's time and money. He paid $300 - a good deal considering it costs hundreds of dollars an hour just to keep one of the foxtrots aloft.

Mr. Cardin denied using his office to wangle favors from the police that no ordinary citizen could hope to get. But even a delegate from Baltimore County has influence, and it would be hard for any officer to say no to his request for help, even for a project as ridiculous as this one. Mr. Cardin should have known better than to have asked, or to have allowed anyone else to make such a request on his behalf.

Now that officer could face termination as a result of the stunt, while Mr. Cardin can think of nothing better to say than "[I] apologize ... for the distraction that I caused." He still doesn't get it: It's not the "distraction" that needs explaining, it's the spectacularly poor judgment he exhibited by getting himself into such a mess in the first place.

Readers resond

If this happened in the private sector and Mr. Cardin embarassed his employer (Baltimore County) he would be asked to leave. I hope the voters do the same.

Connie

Everyone would be far better served by just letting this thing go. All the lessons have been learned. All that remains to be exercised now is vindictiveness. Enough.

Mr. Rational

It is typical of the cowardly politician to have no comment on something he caused and also typically cowardly of bealefeld and balto city police dept to want to hang this poor cop.

Mcraig

This is way old. Cardin will be married with a couple of kids and we will still be discussing his proposal and the lack of accountability for monies spent. Yawn!

Cynic

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