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Be Careful When You Ask Directions

You may ask a 'ticked off' cop.

by Brooks Gardner
June 6, 2006

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Be Careful When You Ask Directions

Can you imagine being in a strange city, lost, you run a stop sign and a police officer refuses to help you with directions and locks you up? This story is very true for Joshua Kelly and Llara Brook of Chantilly, Va.

Joshua and Llara got lost leaving an Orioles game. Collins reported a city officer arrested them for trespassing on a public street while they were asking for directions . The couple said the officers arrested them after they flagged down an officer to ask for directions. The Virginia couple spent eight hours in jail before authorities released them without charges. Baltimore City police arrested them for trespassing on a public street. Can someone explain how you trespass on a public street? Almost like "we don't wan't you here."

It had been their first trip to Camden Yards and they were looking for I-95. They found themselves in south Baltimore. Joshua tells that when they saw a police car they were relieved. "Llara's father was in the middle of giving us directions when the officer screeched up behind us and got out of the car and asked me to step out. I obeyed," Kelly said. "I obeyed everything -- stepped out of the car, put my hands behind my back, and the next thing I know, I was getting arrested for trespassing."

They asked the officer for directions and she refused to give them because the couple had run a stop sign. Joshua and Llara were more than willing to pay for the violation, but they were still in need of directions. The police officer told them that they had found their way in there and they could find their way out.

"By this time, I was completely in tears," Llara said. "I said, 'Ma'am, you know, we just need your help. We are not trying to cause you any trouble. I'm not leaving him here.' What she did was walk over to my side of the car and said, 'Ok, we are taking you downtown, too.'"

"In jail for eight hours -- sleeping on a concrete floor next to a toilet," Joshua said.

"It was a nightmare," Llara said. "I was in there thinking I was just dreaming and waiting to wake up."

"It is outrageous and our office has tried very hard to change these policing practices," Baltimore City State's Attorney spokeswoman Margaret Burns said.

"We never want any one treated rudely or discourteously by any employee of city government, and we're taking the matter very seriously and we will fully investigate it," Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley said.

Both Joshua's and Llara's parents are police officers in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania  area.

"They are very respectful, and that's how I grew up, to learn how to respect and learn that officers respect you," Brook said.

City police internal affairs continues to investigate the incident and the officer remains on active duty.

Stories like this are very possible anywhere. The stories of abusive police and bureaucrats are found too often. Too many public employees let their position go to their heads and go beyond what is necessary to get a job done. Likewise for elected officials. We can only hope that these people can be weeded out and replaced with people who care for those who need help. It seems that all Joshua and Llara wanted was just a little help.

It didn't happen for them and that's a shame...

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