Animal Kingdom the thoroughbred that won this year’s Kentucky Derby, got a police escort to Maryland’s Pimlico track for the Preakness, says the Baltimore Sun. Wounded war veterans got escorts to Orioles games. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell got an escort to the Grand Prix race. Police escorted the bus carrying Baltimore Ravens players to the stadium and gave the same courtesy to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Police also got NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to Sunday’s game on time, though two motorcycle officers crashed while preparing for the detail — an incident that drew attention to the practice and raised questions about whether the commissioner received special treatment.
Officials say there is no formal policy on who gets a lights-and-siren, blow-through-red-lights escort, but requests are reviewed by commanders on a case-by-case basis. Other agencies contacted, including the state police, say their policies are similarly informal. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi noted Goodell’s official status, the security concerns of Sept. 11, and a tight schedule as reasons for approving the commissioner’s speedy trip from his private jet to the stadium. The officers, who were cut off by a car while preparing for the detail and put their bikes to the ground to avoid a collision, were not seriously injured. Police denied an escort request from the Ravens cheerleading squad because there was no specific security concern. “Everybody and his brother wants one,” said Michael Andrew, who retired from the police department and was in charge of approving escorts. “There is no set rule as to who gets one and when. The people who want them are using taxpayer dollars to apply for something you and I can’t get.”