Barron’s back in the news

Published 8:24 pm Tuesday, October 14, 2008

State Sen. Lowell Barron of Fyffe is no stranger to the front news page. In the ’90s, he was clocked by the Clanton and Argo police departments for driving at speeds around 90 mph on Interstate 65 between the State Capitol and his hometown.

During the 2007 session of the Alabama Legislature, he was on the receiving end of a punch thrown by Sen. Charles Bishop.

Yet again Barron finds himself in the news, this time regarding controversial speeding tickets he received in Andalusia for reckless driving and running a stop sign. Yesterday, he was scheduled for trial in the town, hoping for a settlement between his lawyer and the district attorney.

The senator received the tickets July 27 while traveling home from a family vacation in Destin, Fla. Barron did acknowledge he was speeding but said he did it because he was concerned for his safety.

In an AP interview, Barron said he passed a motorcycle while traveling on a rural road at night near Baker, Fla., near the state line. Barron said the motorcycle tailgated him for 30 miles at increasing speeds while flashing its bright lights. Upon reaching Andalusia, he was pulled over by police.

Driving the motorcycle was Blaine Wilson, a former Andalusia police officer, who had contacted officers about Barron’s driving. Here’s where the controversy comes in: It was Wilson who signed the tickets rather than the active police officers who pulled him over. Wilson had no authority to sign the tickets.

Even though the Andalusia police chief had intended to keep Wilson on the force as a part-time officer, the paperwork was never completed.

We are not saying Barron was above the law. If he was driving recklessly, he should have received tickets and should have had to pay every penny. But the authority of a police officer does not continue after he has left the force.

Perhaps Wilson should have simply shouted, “Citizen’s arrest!” and left it at that.