PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - A military veteran wants to serve his city as a police officer, but says bogus tickets got him locked up.
"I just knew I wanted to do something more with my life."
A 20 year career in the U.S. Army took Samuel Danridge all over the world. However, in the spring of last year, he came home to Philadelphia, hoping to trade one uniform for another.
"I served my country,” Danridge told FOX 29's Bruce Gordon Thursday. “Why not go home and try to make my community a better place by being in law enforcement? 43 years old, but I still got a lot of fire left, still got a lot of energy left, still got a lot of experience left."
Danridge applied to become a Philadelphia police officer. He says he took and passed all the required tests.
Things looked good. Then, he got a phone call from the police department. The message: "'You've got tickets you need to take care of before we can get into police academy.'"
Danridge says he paid off a slew of parking tickets, though many seemed bogus, dating from the mid-90s when he was in basic training out of state.
Nearly 18 months into the process, he thought he was back on course to the academy and his new career.
Then, on December 4th, another call. This message? "'I thought we told you to take care of these tickets. You have a warrant out for your arrest.' I kind of shot up like, 'A warrant?'"
This time, it was a bunch of moving violations, dating back to 1994. He wasn't sure these were legit either, but was sure if the tickets had been issued they'd been paid.
Danridge says he went to traffic court to sort out the confusion, but was told the warrant was valid.
"I was handcuffed, stood up. Cop put me in handcuffs," he says of the embarrassing ordeal, (and they) “handed me over to the sheriffs, who put me in a cell."
Danridge says he spent two hours in that cell over tickets he knew he didn't owe. Earlier this week, he received a letter from PennDOT confirming any outstanding violations were taken care of in May of 2006 and that his record was in fact clean.
Danridge says he told a police sergeant handling his application about the letter.
"'I don't care. You've got to start this process all over— all the way over—as in apply online the way I did in 2016."
FOX 29's Bruce Gordon reached out to Philadelphia police for comment. A spokesman said he will look into the matter and explain—within the rules of personnel issues and privacy—what caused this application to go off the rails.
As for Danridge? Well, if you thought the desire to serve and protect had been sucked out of him by this experience you'd be wrong.
“Right now, I still want to do what I planned to do two years ago,” he said. “Serve my community.”