Rowell is a new member of the five-man Stockton police force. So, last Tuesday he didn’t think twice about pulling over a driver in a small white car for avoiding a DUI stop.
“He didn’t have a driver’s license, so I issued him a citation for that,” Rowell explained.
He didn’t think twice, that is, until he handed the ticket to the court clerk.
“She looked at it and said, ‘Hey, you know you just gave the mayor’s son a ticket?’ And I said, ‘Oh, crap,’” Rowell said.
He said he had never met the driver, 29-year-old Jared Rydalch, before. He said Rydalch told him he was out looking for his dog, and asked him to tell the other officers to not pull him over again.
“I told him, ‘No. If I see you driving around again, I’m going to pull you over again,’” Rowell said.
Rowell said he knew there was trouble when, about 20 minutes later, he found the chief of police in the mayor’s truck in a heated discussion. Then he said the mayor, Dan Rydalch, rolled down the window and demanded he get in his truck. When he refused, Rydalch abruptly fired him on the spot.
“He told me, ‘All right, I want your badge in the morning,’” Rowell said. “I tried to defend myself and say, ‘First of all, look, he was breaking the law. Second of all, I didn’t know he was your son.’”
Shortly after the incident, Rowell was told he was suspended without pay, indefinitely.