D.C. police once arrested a U.S. president for speeding

WASHINGTON – When he was mayor of D.C., Adrian Fenty made headlines when he got a speeding ticket.

But it turns out D.C. police once arrested the president of the United States for speeding.

Just like Fenty, Ulysses S. Grant liked to drive himself around the city — and the president liked to go fast through Georgetown.

“He actually was racing his buggy on M street, where he was taken into custody,” says Cathy Lanier, today’s D.C. police chief. “We seize his horse and buggy.”

Lanier says it wasn’t an isolated incident for Grant.

“The metropolitan police department actually stopped and cited Ulysses S. Grant three times for speeding,” she says.

After police hauled the president down to the police station, they were unsure if they could charge a sitting president if he had not been impeached.

“They ended up letting him pay a fine and walk back to the White House,” Lanier says.

That story and many others are part of the 150-year history of D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department, including the story of how the D.C. policeman assigned to protect President Lincoln was drunk and left his post the night Lincoln was killed.

“[It was] not one of our prouder moments,” Lanier says.

History buffs can actually see the police log for the day of Lincoln’s assassination by visiting police headquarters.

“We actually have the firsthand written record of the Lincoln assassination in our logbook,” she says. “We have a lot of other very interesting artifacts from the beginning of the police department.”

Following Lanier’s interview on WTOP’s Ask the Chief segment this week, DCist.com dug up more details and background on the speedy president’s traffic travails.

WTOP’s Mark Segraves contributed to this report. Follow Mark and WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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