Police ethics: Was Ray Rice’s autograph a gratuity?

On November 10, Bryan Sears of Patch wrote the following as a followup to the Ray Rice story I broke last week:

County police say that a police officer did nothing wrong when he accepted an autograph from Ravens running back Ray Rice during a traffic stop in Owings Mills Monday night.

“We have determined that there was no wrong doing on the part of the officer,” said Lt. Robert McCullough, a police spokesman.

Police began an investigation of the incident after it was reported by Jeff Quinton, a Perry Hall blogger who runs Inside Charm City reported that Rice had tweeted about the incident.

Sears also wrote:

McCullough said the department’s review of the matter confirmed Rice’s story.

The police spokesman said the department also determined that the officer did nothing wrong in accepting the autograph.

“Generally, you have rules where police officers aren’t supposed to take gratuities during the course of their official duties,” McCullough said

“In this specific case, the traffic stop was over,” McCullough said. “There was some additional conversation between the officer and Mr. Rice and Mr. Rice offered his autograph for (the officer’s) kid.

“It’s been determined that the autograph is not being looked at as a gratuity,” McCullough said.

Last night, Peter Hermann of the Baltimore Sun discussed the ethics of the situation and the potential value of the autograph.

Hermann also talked to McCullough:

The agency has rules forbidding officers from accepting gratuities, but McCullough told me, “This was not a gift of monetary value.” I’m sure the officer didn’t even think beyond bringing a smile to his son’s face, and who could begrudge a cop who puts his life on the line to protect us from accepting a token of appreciation every now and then?

Hermann also talked to a sports memorabilia dealer who puts Rice’s autograph as the 3rd most popular Ravens signature (behind Ray Lewis and Joe Flacco.) The dealer told Hermann about a new marketing deal that potentially increased the value of a Rice autograph. Additionally, the dealer said that if the autograph was on something like a police ticket book or something similar that it could be worth a lot more.

Additionally, there was a comment on my last post from an eyewitness in Game Stop who said Rice was reserving a copy of the Call of Duty game in advance and didn’t have a connection that got him a copy early.

Complete coverage:

Did Ray Rice tell the truth today?

The AP story excerpted below tells more details about Ray Rice’s traffic stop and subsequent tweet. When added in to other facts reported today, it raises a couple of questions.


Baltimore County police say Rice was stopped Monday about 6:45 p.m. at the Garrison Forest shopping center.

Spokesman Lt. Rob McCullough says Rice was given a warning to put a lighter tint on his car’s windows. He said there was no paperwork or police report generated from the incident.

Police are conducting a preliminary investigation concerning the officer getting Rice’s autograph. The officer has not been disciplined.

“It was a simple traffic stop,” McCullough says.

Earlier reports indicated Rice was buying a video game. According to Google Maps, there is a Game Stop and a Best Buy in the vicinity of Garrison Forest Plaza.

Jamison Hensley reported:

Rice was stopped in a parking lot on his way to buying the new “Call of Duty” video game.

Call of Duty: Black of Ops was scheduled for release today, November 9, 2010. Stores weren’t putting the game on sale until 12:01 a.m. and they usually get penalized pretty heavily if they sell them any earlier.

Ray Rice told the media today that he was on his way to buy the game at 6:45 p.m. on November 8. This means one of two things: Rice was lying about what he was doing or he was getting the game early through a connection in the store.

Granted, the most likely situation is that Rice had a connection at the store hooking him up with the game early, but there is some room for doubt in the equation now because of his detailed answer about which game he was going to buy.

Rice denied any special treatment from police in his statement today. Yet, if you assume he was telling the truth, that means he was getting special treatment from the store selling the game. Which is it?

This isn’t a matter of grave concern, but it is interesting that Rice’s attempt to prove he wasn’t getting special treatment from police shows he probably was getting it from Game Stop or Best Buy. Granted, if he is still going to the store to buy it, that’s not a huge deal. Hollywood celebrities, and probably some pro athletes, get copies of games weeks in advance at times. I’ve seen that firsthand.
(Continue reading…)

Rice reportedly gave autograph after receiving a verbal warning for tinted windows

Matt Vensel

According to Mike Duffy from the team’s website, Rice said he offered to give the officer an autograph after he had already been issued a warning, and that he worded his Tweet improperly.


#RayRice says he should not have offered autograph to officer who pulled him over, says he has to fix window tint.

Mike Duffy

Ray Rice said he offered his autograph to police officer’s son after he got a warning for tints on car. Said he worded wrong on twit

WBAL Radio:

Lt. Rob McCullough told WBAL News that Rice had only received a verbal warning from the officer, and the player gave the officer the autograph before he left the scene.


Drew: Tough to say who is the bigger dummy. #RayRice for tweeting it or the cop for letting him go, knowing he’d brag about it.

Previous coverage:

Baltimore County Police confirm Ray Rice was stopped

Peter Hermann

Lt. Robert McCullough, the chief spokesman for the Baltimore County Police Department, confirmed a few minutes ago that an officer from his agency stopped Ray Rice. The spokesman declined further comment but said more information would be forthcoming.

Previous coverage:

Ray Rice to address his tweeting today after practice

Last night, I brought you the story about Ray Rice tweeting that he got out of a ticket by giving an autograph. It later appeared that Rice deleted any tweets regarding the incident. This was later confirmed and the tweets no longer appear in his Twitter timeline. Rice has remained silent on Twitter since some of the tweets were deleted.

A reply I received from the Ravens’ media relations office indicates that Rice will now address this situation off the field after practice today.

Additionally, my friend Jimmie Bise blogs about this matter and exactly what drivers in Maryland who are stopped for excessive tint in their windows must go through to rectify the situation.

UPDATE: Peter Hermann of The Sun has confirmed with the Baltimore County Police Department that Ray Rice was stopped by that department yesterday.

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