BEFORE the next edition of the D.C. police manual goes to press, His Royal Congressman Gus Savage (D-Ill.) will have some changes to make. For one, the congressman may want to include a new section on arresting people. Anyone without a beard would be able to skip jail; anyone in a suit or tie would not even need a driver's license, license tags or car registration to drive on city streets. Best of all, anyone with a card identifying him as a member of a congressman's family would be free from the worry that if he broke the law he would be troubled by those horribly bothersome D.C. police officers; you know, the ones who can be so fussy about the law.
In case you think we are caricaturing Mr. Savage's thought, we will quite the congressman on the police and the District of Columbia: "You cannot have a city where the most prominent public comes into such irresponsible hands," the congressman said. Mr. Savage's thoughts have come into view because last week his son, "Little Gus," was stopped for driving a car that had no license plates. Thomas Savage also did not have a license or the car's registration. What he had was a card indicating that he is a congressman's son. The police, acting properly and without regard to the status afforded by the identification, took the young Mr. Savage to the station house. When the older Mr. Savage heard of the situation, he rang up the chief of police to get his son released without a ticket for any of his many violations and without leaving the usual $50 deposit that police require until they see a driver's license.
Having seen that the police in this town are capable of taking a driver not carrying his license in a car with no license plates or registration to the station house, the royal congressman now says he no longer supports full home rule for the District. We must assume that in Chicago, that well-known city of good government and Mr. Savage's home town, the police do not arrest people for driving without a license; otherwise Mr. Savage would support ending home rule for that city. Mr. Savage has other complaints about the police here, in addition to his dislike of their concern about the law. He suggests that since his son was well dressed an unbearded, the lad was entitled to a presumption of lawful behavior. Apparently, he thinks bearded and not-well-dressed youths are not entitled to that presumption. He also says that if he were a white congressman he would not have been treated so shabbily.
White or black, Mr. Savage's son was wrong, and the police did nothing improper in taking him in. In fact, this city's police leaders and citizens should be proud of the way the police officers involved handled the situation. One final point: If the police in this city of wall-to-wall VIPs were to mollycoddle every self-professed important person, the District would rival Dodge City for lawlessness.