NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect a later statement from the Department of Justice.
A Delaware state trooper was indicted on four counts for fraudulently writing warnings for motorists, some of whom he didn’t even stop.
Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings said in a press release Tuesday the state didn’t know the full scale of Cpl. Edwin R. Ramirez’s misconduct and asked anyone who thought they may have been affected to get in touch with their office. The suspended officer was assigned to Troop 9 in Odesssa.
The press release said he had victimized dozens of motorists in April 2021 alone.
Delaware State Police leadership contacted the Department of Justice’s Division of Civil Rights & Public Trust in May 2021 after an internal review unveiled a pattern of fraudulent E-Warnings issued by Ramirez. The review began after one of his supervising officers reported discrepancies in one of Ramirez’s reports.
Ramirez was immediately suspended. The ensuing investigation found that in April 2021 alone, Ramirez issued more than 30 fraudulent warnings and/or tickets without motorists being informed — and, in some cases, with no traffic stop actually occurring, according to a press release.
A DOJ spokeswoman later clarified that the April misdeeds “only involved phantom warnings and that tickets issued in that month were issued with the victims’ knowledge.”
While E-Warnings do not carry a financial penalty, they do harm drivers, the press release said. Drivers with E-Warnings are less likely to be given consideration in future traffic encounters with police, and more likely to be stopped in the first place.
“These victims deserve an apology for getting wrapped up in this ridiculous scheme,” Jennings said in the press release. “This kind of ham-fisted misconduct undermines the work that good police officers do every day to earn and honor the public’s trust.
Following the internal investigation, a DSP investigator received a search warrant for Ramirez’s police car and found a sheet kept by Ramirez displaying Troop 9’s troopers and their productivity statistics, along with his own 2019 and 2020 yearly evaluations which included commendations for traffic productivity.
On Feb. 2, 2021, Ramirez was recognized as the recipient of the “2020 Troop 9 Traffic Ace” award. In a performance commendation, Ramirez’s captain noted that Ramirez issued 458 traffic citations and 640 traffic E-Warnings in 2020 alone. The state is continuing to investigate Ramirez’s potential misconduct outside of April 2021.
“The accolades that this trooper misappropriated are not worth the felony charges he’s now facing,” Jennings said. “Traffic stops should be about road safety, not padding performance reviews, and we’re grateful to DSP for doing the right thing as soon as they uncovered the criminal activity.”
Ramirez now faces charges of tampering with public records in the first degree (class E felony), issuing a false certificate (class G felony), falsifying business records (class A misdemeanor), and official misconduct (class A misdemeanor).
If convicted on all charges, Ramirez faces a statutory maximum sentence of 9 years in prison.
“The Delaware State Police values our relationship with the public and as demonstrated in the case, have policies in place to evaluate and investigate all incidents of misconduct,” said Delaware State Police Superintendent Col. Melissa Zebley in the press release. “We are an organization that recognizes while fulfilling our sacred mission to protect and serve the public, we must also hold our own members accountable for any actions that jeopardize public trust.”
Anyone who feels they may have been affected Ramirez’s actions may email the Division of Civil Rights & Public Trust at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Delaware State Police via DSP’s Customer Satisfaction Survey.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience, including 15 at The News Journal in Delaware.
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