Lancaster County President Judge denies using his position to influence traffic stop in incident caught on dashcam video
LANCASTER COUNTY — Lancaster County’s president judge denied using his judicial position to alter the outcome of a traffic stop in a statement Thursday after video obtained by LNP/LancasterOnline showed him confronting an East Lampeter Township Police officer after being pulled over for tailgating.
President Judge Dennis E. Reinaker acknowledged the April traffic stop in a statement to LNP, but denied that he attempted to use his identity to receive any special treatment from the officer.
“I neither expect nor deserve any special treatment, and made no such request on this occasion,” Reinaker’s statement reads.
LNP reports the Pennsylvania Code of Conduct prohibits judges from using their office to seek benefits.
The media organization obtained dashcam footage of the incident by issuing a public records request to East Lampeter Township.
LNP was acting on a tip from a reader, it said in its report.
The video shows the view from an unmarked police car, which made a traffic stop on Pitney Road in East Lampter Township on April 26. It shows the officer allowing a black SUV to pass before initiating a traffic stop.
After both cars pull into a parking lot, the SUV stops. A man, later identified as Reinaker, gets out of the car and approaches the officer.
“What do you think you’re doing pulling me over?” Reinaker asks in the video. “For blowing my horn?”
The officer also exits his vehicle and instructs Reinaker to get back inside his SUV.
Reinaker walks back toward his vehicle, but as he does, he tells the officer “You better check the registration on this plate soon, mister,” pointing to his vehicle’s license plate.
The officer returns to his vehicle. Less than a minute later, presumably after running the vehicle’s registration, he gets back out, walks to the SUV, and says “Have a good day, Judge.”
The officer never explains to Reinaker why he initiated the traffic stop.
LNP reports that the officer would not comment on the incident, despite numerous attempts to obtain a comment.
Reinaker’s full statement to LNP reads:
“I respect and greatly appreciate the hard work of our law enforcement officers in Lancaster County. Any parking or traffic citations I have ever received were paid without objection. I neither expect nor deserve any special treatment and made no such request on this occasion. However, I am not immune to an instance of mild frustration during a morning commute. In this case, it was not clear to me why I was pulled over. I obeyed the officer’s directives and intended no disrespect.”
In a follow-up question to his statement, Reinaker was asked what he meant when he told the officer to check his registration.
Reinaker said he knew the officer would run the registration, and wanted to get on his way as soon as possible.
“If my intent was to tell him who I was, I could certainly have done so,” Reinaker told LNP.