Fame does have its rewards, including the ability to dodge a small bureaucratic nightmare. My friend Jeff Quinton spotted a tweet from Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice wherein Rice bragged just a bit that he dodged a traffic stop for his window tint by giving the officer an autograph for his son. Jeff notes that the tweet and a subsequent tweet with more details is no longer there. Apparently, Rice (or someone acting on his behalf) deleted them without explanation.
This could become a big deal, mostly because the suits who run the NFL love making mountains out of molehills. I’d be hard-pressed to think of a professional sport more inept at handling its own press right now than the National Football League. I don’t see it as any big deal, and it probably shouldn’t become one. It was probably bad form for Rice to tweet about what happened because it makes him look like just another spoiled celebrity who gets to skate past hassles that few others can but…meh.
The officer, on the other hand, might get into a little bit of hot water. Technically, he took a bribe. Rice’s autograph has cash value — plenty of folks would pay him for it — and Rice gave it to him in order to escape a real legal inconvenience. In Maryland, getting a repair order for window tint is a humongous hassle, bigger than getting one for a blown headlight. Once you get that repair order, you have two options. First, you can take all the tint of all your car windows, in which case pretty much any police officer can sign off on the repair. If you want to keep the tint on your windows, though, you’ll have to have it all redone so that it complies with the 35 percent light-transmittance law, then you have to have that certified by a special division of the State Police, usually by appointment. If you don’t get the work done and you don’t send the repair order in, the Motor Vehicle Administration will suspend your tags, and the only way to get that undone quickly is to get the work done then go to the main MVA office (and there’s only one of those). All that involves not a small amount of time, effort, and money. So, the officer cut Rice a rather healthy break for the cost of one autograph.
Sure, it’s common for police officers to do things like this and for a lot less (heck a glimpse of cleavage or leg from a pretty girl will do it!) but that doesn’t mean it’s exactly right. We do want our police officers to exercise their discretion on traffic stops and, generally, we’re willing to overlook cases like this, but I’m not quite sure how the officer can escape at least a reprimand here.
UPDATE: Jeff got a response from the Ravens that Rice will address his tweets after practice today. Like I said, it’s not a huge story, but it’s nice to see that the team is responsive to new media stories.