No Police Escort for Sarah Palin in D.C.
Sarah Palin and Charlie Sheen have some things in common: They've both occasionally indicated they're open to questions about whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States, and they both seem to subscribe to an Oscar Wilde-inspired theory of media coverage ("the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about"). One thing they don't have in common, though, is having recently been escorted by D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department.
On April 19, Sheen hired MPD to bullet him from Dulles International Airport to his speaking gig at Constitution Hall, lights flashing. The trip set off a controversy about MPD escorts and whether celebrities like Sheen deserve to zip through red lights. According to MPD policy, the correct answer is "no." Officially, only the president, vice president, D.C. mayor, and visiting dignitaries should get escorts, and only for security; nonetheless, it turned out visitors like Jay-Z and Bill Gates had also gotten the special treatment in the past.
Apparently, though, Palin didn't think she needed an escort when she arrived in D.C. last weekend for her "One Nation" bus tour/PAC-funded family vacation. Had her entourage asked, MPD could have authorized an escort for her. But she didn't ask. MPD spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump says MPD had nothing to do with Palin while she was here: "We did not receive any request from Sarah Palin for an escort, nor was one authorized. We did not escort her anywhere." Messages sent to Palin's handlers weren't answered.
Since Palin was reportedly escorted by ten park rangers and police escorts on a trip to Ellis Island in New York on Wednesday, we decided to check with some other agencies. Secret Service, Capitol Police, and U.S. Park Police all say they dispatched no details at all to safeguard Palin.
Obviously, Sheen ruined a good thing.
YouTube clips appear to show that Palin's visit to the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally was overseen by the event's security guys, and that one of them was really into yelling at the media. Photos and videos also show some guys in polo shirts and sunglasses in the background who look like private security.
MPD seems to have caught a break here; a security request from Palin could have put the department in an awkward position. Refuse it, and they could be (gulp) alienating the future leader of the free world. Comply, and it looks like celebrity worship. For now, at least, that's one scandal dodged.
Photo by Matt Dunn