By Ed Brock
A car carrying Clayton County Commission Chairman Eldrin Bell was stopped in Hampton for going 29 miles per hour over the speed limit, but the driver was released with only a warning.
The incident occurred at 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 5 or 6, Hampton police are not sure what date. The county-owned car was traveling north on U.S. Highway 19/41 when it was pulled over, said Hampton Police Chief Bud Smith. Hampton Police Officer Shannon Brady clocked the driver, Clayton County Special Services Director Chris Windley, traveling 84 mph in a 55 mph speed zone near the entrance to Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"(Windley) told (Brady) that he had his mind on something else," Smith said.
Smith said Brady learned that Bell was a passenger in the car. He released Windley on a verbal warning, but Smith seriously doubts that it was because Bell was in the car.
However, Smith did say "officers here" and around the area were "apt to extend professional courtesy" to other government employees.
"Unless it's something really serious," Smith said.
Smith added that the decision is left to the discretion of the individual officer making the stop and has a lot to do with the attitude of the person being stopped. Asked if a regular driver who was stopped for going the same speed and had a good attitude toward the officer would be given only a warning, Smith said not always "but he might be more apt to."
No written citation was issued and no report was made, Smith said.
Windley would not comment on the incident but did not deny that it happened. Bell could not be reached for comment.
Another Clayton County official was also stopped for speeding and let go with a warning this month. A Clayton County Police Officer stopped Sheriff Victor Hill's private Jaguar 22 miles per hour over the speed limit on Tara Boulevard near Jonesboro on Feb. 5. A deputy was driving the car and Hill said he was on the phone and didn't notice the speed at which they were traveling. A report was made in that incident.