Mayoral candidate Andrey Bundley called yesterday for an end to what he characterized as the over-aggressiveness of Baltimore police, after an incident Sunday in which an officer handcuffed and charged him with putting his campaign fliers on the windshields of parked cars.
Meanwhile, police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark held a news conference to defend his department. Clark said the officer was correct to issue the citation to Bundley. Police said they warned Bundley to stop, but he refused. So the officers handcuffed him for a few minutes while they checked his identification.
After checking Bundley's identification, the officers released him. They also issued him a criminal citation on a single misdemeanor count of violating a city ordinance that forbids people from placing advertising circulars, notices or other printed items on any vehicle without the car owner's permission.
A conviction carries a maximum fine of $50. Bundley has a hearing scheduled for Aug. 9 in state District Court.
Bundley, a Democrat challenging Mayor Martin O'Malley in the Sept. 9 primary, talked to reporters in the parking lot underneath Interstate 83 near
, 316 Guilford Ave., where an officer gave him the citation. "I think there is a philosophy of aggressiveness with this police department," said Bundley, 42, principal of Walbrook High School. "This officer was angry. He was hostile. He was relentless to put me in handcuffs. ... We will continue to campaign, and after we win on Sept. 9, we will deal with this issue of police aggressiveness."
Clark said his officers were not targeting Bundley.
"Cops took the right action here," Clark said. "My officers would have taken the same action regardless who was doing it."
The city's public works department recently issued 79 civil citations - carrying at least a $100 penalty each - to Bundley's campaign for illegally placing campaign signs on utility poles and public property.
City workers have cited O'Malley's campaign twice for illegal campaign signs, leading Bundley to complain that he was being unfairly targeted - a charge denied by the public works department.
Veteran observers of Baltimore politics say that putting campaign literature on car windshields - although illegal - has been common for years, and that police almost never enforce the law.
"Why give a candidate a hard time for passing out literature?" City Councilman Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. asked. "If he's guilty, then we're all guilty, because I know in the past that I've done the same thing, and my colleagues have done the same thing. And think of all the fast food places that put ads under car windshields."
O'Malley said that he did not know much about the incident. But he said that, in general, his campaign refrains from raising illegal signs or placing literature on car windows.
"In my experience campaigning, you end up alienating more voters than you persuade with that kind of thing - the windshield [fliers] and the illegal signage," O'Malley said.
Kevin Enright, a spokesman for the city Police Department, said that complaints of discourtesy or excessive force by city police officers dropped last year because of better education of police officers, after rising in 2001 as the city began to track such complaints more closely.
After O'Malley took office in 2000, promising to bring zero tolerance-style policing to the city, the number of complaints of discourtesy by police officers rose from 194 in 2000 to 297 in 2001, before dropping to 240 last year. Complaints of officers using excessive force rose from 366 in 2000 to 516 in 2001, before dropping to 374 last year, according to police statistics.
Police officials said yesterday that officers working off-duty at
About 11:30 p.m. Sunday, Officer Kenneth Lane spotted Bundley putting fliers on cars in a nearby city-owned parking lot and ordered him to stop, Lane wrote in his report. Bundley "turned and placed a second flyer [sic] on another vehicle and stated, 'Stop what?'" according to the report.
Lane replied, "That," according to the report. Bundley moved to a third car and placed another flier on its windshield. Officers then arrested him, the report says.
Bundley said yesterday that he didn't know what Lane was referring to when he was told to stop. Bundley also said that officers had warned him earlier not to put fliers on cars in the privately leased