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Published: Friday, 7/1/2005

Hancock asked for special treatment <font face="verdana" size="1" color =#CC0000><b>* Video * </b></font>

BY CHRISTINA HALL
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Hancock Hancock
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Toledo Councilman Karyn McConnell Hancock asked police officers for "professional courtesy" several times during her illegal parking incident last week and twice said that if she were to make a telephone call - including one to the police chief - "all of this would be negated."

The June 24 incident in the no-stopping, tow-away zone on Erie Street across from Toledo Municipal Court was captured on an in-car police video camera.

Police released about a 15-minute segment of the officers' conversations with the at-large councilman as she sat in her car before receiving a $25 parking ticket.

Yesterday, Ms. McConnell Hancock, 33, a lawyer who is president pro tem of council, appeared in Toledo Municipal Court on two citations issued Monday for driving on an expired driver's license and having expired license plates. She pleaded guilty to both offenses. She was sentenced to pay $50 in fines and $78 in court costs, which she did.

Officer James Brown saw Ms. McConnell Hancock pull into the spot and told her she was parked illegally. She said she would be away from her car for only a short period of time and went into the court building to handle a matter for a client. The officer eventually ran her license plate and learned it and her driver's license were expired and ordered a tow for her car.

Police Chief Mike Navarre, upon hearing of the situation from a deputy chief, canceled the tow and told the councilman she had to renew her driver's license and license plates. An officer drove her car to a parking spot reserved for councilmen in the nearby Government Center parking garage at Erie and Beech Street.

In the video, officers told Ms. McConnell Hancock, who twice identified herself as a public official, that they waited 30 minutes for her to return. They said they couldn't let her drive because of her expired license and plates.

"I don't give anybody else that courtesy on the street," Officer Brown said.

"But everybody else is not an elected official," Ms. McConnell Hancock replied.

One officer told the councilman that a woman on crutches using the crosswalk had to go around her car. The woman looked at the officers and pointed at the car because she was having trouble getting up the crosswalk.

Officer Brown told Ms. McConnell Hancock anyone he stops for an expired license receives a ticket. He asked her if from now on he is supposed to let people go when they say things, such as they work at a certain place.

"All I'm saying is I'm asking for the professional courtesy," she said.

"Well, that's all I was asking for when I walked across the street and asked you not to park there," the officer responded.

He said she could have parked in the reserved council spots and walked to court and "everything would have been fine."

Ms. McConnell Hancock said if she had known it was going to be that long, she "definitely would have done that." When she realized the judge was going to be too long, she went outside.

"Most citizens would get their vehicle towed and because [Officer Brown] saw you driving, you would be getting a citation for both," an officer told Ms. McConnell Hancock.

"I do understand that. I'm just asking for professional courtesy. I understand all that," she said.

Sgt. Karen Sue Martensen offered to drive Ms. McConnell Hancock to a Madison Avenue location to renew her license and tags so she could then get her car out of impound.

The councilman asked if police would allow her to go into the parking garage and then do the renewals. Later, an officer told her that she "really put us in very, very touchy position."

The sergeant then told the councilman it's "ethics" and said that Mayor Jack Ford "is very, very firm on the ethics question and the whole process. We all sign ethics statements."

The councilman replied, "As do I."

An officer said their job offers them discretion and she said it sounded like her partner was showing Ms. McConnell Hancock "some courtesy" in not issuing her two citations.

"I don't mind the citations," the councilman said. "I just prefer to avoid the impound if I could."

She indicated that "time wise" she did not want the tow and that she was due in another court. The video shows police talking to her about what she could do and telling her it would be quicker and cheaper if her car was towed.

She again said she would rather take the tickets because of time. Officers told her their command, even up to a deputy chief, notified them to tow her car.

"But, and, and I'm not being funny at all, but if I were to call Chief Navarre all of that would be negated. And I'm not trying to go that route at all. That's not what I want to do at all," Ms. McConnell Hancock said.

She later said, "I know that if I were to make a phone call, then all this would be negated." She again said that she was not going to "go that route. I don't want to."

Chief Navarre said the councilman did not call him. He called her after being informed of the situation by Deputy Chief Derrick Diggs. The chief said the situation would not have been negated if the councilman called him.

Chief Navarre said the officers were in a "tough predicament" and he thinks they "made the best out of a bad situation."

Ms. McConnell Hancock, a Democrat who is up for re-election in November and who is chairman of council's law and criminal justice committee, could not be reached for comment.

She has since renewed her driver's license and license plates.

Contact Christina Hall at

chall@theblade.com

or 419-724-6007.



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