Thursday, April 8, 2010

In hot pursuit!

Jasmine and Lee Jordan have been welcomed into some towns with police and fire department escorts, bands and cheerleaders and even elaborate presentations that include ceremonial keys to the city.

Mayors, civil servants and many crowds of supporters have latched on to the feel-good story of a teenage girl’s commitment to run coast to coast in honor of a fallen friend and to raise cash for the St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund, a nonprofit group that arranges for reduced medical care for truckers in need.

I’ve witnessed the reception first person, when cars honk in support and locals ask to get their pictures taken with Jazzy. It’s nice, and it reminds you of all the goodness in the world.

A recent incident in one Tennessee town, however, was more reminiscent of Hazzard County from the “Dukes of Hazzard” TV show.

As they make their way eastward in Tennessee, Lee calls every city they run through ahead of time to check routes and inquire about possible police escorts. After leaving messages with the Cookeville, TN, mayor, police chief and public safety director, Jordan said he figured the city’s lack of a response meant they weren’t interested.

As the Jordans began their day Monday in Cookeville, a police motorcycle zipped by, and came back to question Lee, leaving Jazzy to run unescorted.

“That was the first thing that ticked me off,” Lee said.

A little while later, an unmarked police vehicle pulled up. A police captain asked Lee for his license, registration and insurance, and repeatedly asked him why he didn’t have a permit.

“He said, ‘You can’t be holding up traffic like that,’ ” Lee recounted. “I told him about the messages I’d left, and then he really got in my face.”

The officer told Lee he could be arrested and jailed for swearing under the charge of “disorderly conduct to a police officer.” Lee said he then decided to bite his tongue and obtained the free permit.

“He might have thought I was a bit of a smartass,” Lee said, tongue in cheek. “I don’t know.”

OOIDA Member Greg Petit heard about the mishap and was so incensed he called the Cookeville Mayor’s office.

Pulling the Jordans over twice and requiring a permit was excessive, Petit said.

“I called them and gave my opinion on the matter,” said Petit, who lives in Benton, IL. “The cop that did that – he absolutely ought to have his badge taken away. You have kids in this country who are totally out of control; then you have one great kid doing the right thing – and that’s who you hassle?”

Not long after the Jordans obtained their permit and Jazzy began her afternoon run, Lee received his call back from the Cookeville City Hall.

“Is there anything we can do for you?” said the voice on the other line.