Once again, the Tallahassee Police Department, as it relates to its treatment of Florida State football players, has come under scrutiny. The latest to take a microscope to the department? The New York Times.
In early October, the Times reports, starting FSU cornerback and defensive MVP of the BCS title game P.J. Williams was involved in a previously-unreported two-car accident in the early morning hours in which he reportedly turned into the path of an oncoming vehicle. According to the paper, Williams, along with fellow starting corner and passenger Ronald Darby, fled the scene, turning it into what was initially labeled as a hit-and-run.
Williams eventually returned to the scene of the accident — of his own volition, it should be noted — leading to the responding TPD officers to issue a pair of traffic tickets — improper left turn, unknowingly driving on a suspended license — instead of being charged with a criminal act for fleeing the scene. “[I]t was as if the hit-and-run had never happened,” the Times wrote in regard to an accident that caused no injuries.
The general theme of the story is favoritism toward FSU football players, with the paper offering up one example of what it perceives to be unequal treatment for similar incidents.
In their report of the crash, the Tallahassee officers justified not charging Mr. Williams because he returned “approximately” 20 minutes later without being contacted by the police. That stands in sharp contrast to how the police treated another driver who left the scene and drove home after a minor, low-speed accident in the same area late last month. That driver and his mother contacted the police about a half-hour later to report the accident.
At 5 miles per hour, the collision inflicted far less damage than that caused by Mr. Williams’s car — and no injuries. Even so, the police charged the driver, who was not a Florida State football player, with hit-and-run.
The entire story is well worth your time so click HERE, and will certainly cast the TPD — and the university police department, for that matter — in additional negative light for the perception that they cater to Seminole football players, but there are a couple of other rather troublesome aspects of the Times’ report that should be noted.
First, despite the accident occurring at around 2:30 a.m. local time and the driver fleeing the scene initially, no sobriety tests were performed on Williams. Secondly, a “technical glitch” prevented the case from showing up in the city’s online data base. The perception, however, is that it was left out intentionally so that the media wouldn’t catch wind of the situation, lending further credence to those who think FSU football players are allowed to live above the law in Tallahassee.
Lastly, two campus police officers, including the shift commander, showed up at the scene despite their presence not being requested by the TPD. The TPD did call the campus police that morning in regards to the incident, although it was in an effort to collect “an after-hours phone number for a football coach to tell him two of his athletes had been in an accident.”
Surprisingly, no phone number could be found by the campus police on duty at the time. “The two campus officers — Sgt. Roy Wiley, the shift commander, and Cpl. Greg Washington — decided on their own to drive the crash scene to see if they could help, but they were not needed,” the paper wrote.
The campus police chief stated that, upon further review, his officers behaved properly. The TPD police chief told the Times that his department would conduct an investigation into whether his officers acted appropriately.
“No one should be shown any favoritism,” TPD chief Michael DeLeo said.
Some would say that particular horse left the barn quite a while ago.