Saturday, May 29, 2010

Regarding my previous post

Like I said--all cops are family, and I don't ticket family.

Of course I also don't ticket lots of other people I stop. Generally, if I'm hunting for drugs or drunk drivers and I stop someone for a minor infraction--known as a "pretext stop" by the Supreme Court that endorses such tactics--I usually don't cite the ones that I stop unless my brief contact with them turns into something more. I stopped you because you have a light out or because you were doing ten over. No indications of drinking or contraband? Drive safely and correct that problem before I see you again.

Other than that, most people that I stop get stopped because they've done something right in front of me that's so egregious that it cannot be overlooked. And even in that case, if I feel that my merely pulling you over and discussing it with you has been sufficient to change your behavior, you probably won't get anything worse than a written warning either. My traffic tickets are few and far between these days and generally only go to those who worked hard to earn them. So it's not like I'm stroking everyone except cops.

To the ones upset because they see a few cops getting away with something...If I pull you over tonight for something minor, unless you're drunk, appear to be hiding something, have a bad driving record or are just a total mouthy tool, you're probably not going to get a money ticket either. So chill.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why I never ticket cops.

So I'm driving along one night not too long ago, just minding my own business, when I see a car coming towards me moving at warp speed. As it passes me, I bang a nearly perfect power turn and go after it. I catch the car about a mile down the road and light it up. And just as I stop it, a co-worker of mine pulls up to back me up. Cool.

Approaching the car, I find out that the driver is not Mario Andretti but a sergeant from a neighboring department who is well on his way to being late for work--one that I've stopped for speeding before. Turns out that my partner has stopped him before, too.

Now had this been any other citizen, I'd have smacked him with a ticket or two. But I have this policy against citing fellow officers, so I just give him a mild ass-chewing and send him on his way. No ticket, no documentation. It didn't happen.

Yeah, I know--this is going to anger quite a few people, most all of whom are outside of law enforcement. Tough. But my reason was validated literally a few minutes later when a call came across our radio about shots fired and a bail-out after a car full of gang-bangers doing a drive-by crashed. Suddenly we've got multiple armed suspects running around loose in one of our neighborhoods and we need every officer we can pull in for a decent perimeter and searches of the area. Both myself and my co-worker rocket over to the area as fast as we can, and one of the first things that we see when we pull up to the incident command post that's being set up is the car belonging to the sergeant that we'd just stopped and cut loose. He was on his way in and happened upon our guys starting to set up a perimeter and instead of going on past them to his own department's station, he stopped, offered his assistance, got his tactical gear out of his trunk, and jumped right into the fray with our guys to lend a hand. He also called his own department and has some of his department's officers respond over. I think that the fast influx of officers--theirs as well as ours--was a major factor in our eventually snaring all four of the knuckleheads that bailed out of the car. We also recovered two guns.

Now I've cut countless regular citizens breaks on infractions over the years, but I don't ever recall one of them showing up to help us out when we needed it; I've never had a regular citizen pull up on one of my traffic stops and offer me back-up, or respond and jump in when I'm in a fight. But this sergeant had no problem pitching in to help us out, and he did so without being asked, just like lots of other officers have done over the years and like many more will continue to do. When the chips are down, most cops around here don't care about the color of the shirt or the logo on the car of the officer who needs help--they all respond and help take care of business. We're a family and we're all on the same team even though we're on different departments, and we all share the risks when one of the family needs a hand.

That being the case, it'd be stupid for us to jam each other up over the petty stuff, knowing that we might need to rely on each other later in the shift or the next day. Now that doesn't mean that I overlook felony-level stuff, or drunk driving. I won't do that. But then again, I'm surrounded by professionals who are damned good people here and those situations rarely materialize. But sticking it to one of my peers with speeding ticket? Please. Not going to happen.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kids, coats and drunk drivers.

So the other night I'm out, and I stop to back up another officer who has a suspected drunk driver. He puts the guy through field sobriety tests and he fails miserably. He checks him with the portable breath tester and gets a reading back of 0.27. Whoa! Legal limit is 0.08--this guy is over three times that. He gets locked up and we impound his car.

Complicating things, of course, is the presence of his baby momma in the car as a passenger, along with their child--a two year old named Dayquan who is not in a car seat. There is no car seat in the car. Dayquan was just loose in the back seat without even a seatbelt.

This is added to the driver's DWI, and it becomes an aggravating factor for charging and sentencing. If convicted, he's going to do time.

Mama just shrugged when we asked where the car seat was. She knew that he was supposed to be in one, but it was in another car and she admitted that she just didn't feel like taking it out of that one and putting it in this one.

But the funny part came when Dayquan decided to get out of their car and walk around. His mama actually scolded him for getting out without his coat. "Dayquan! You put your coat on right now. Mama doesn't want you getting sick."

So going out without a coat in 60-degree weather is bad, but riding around unrestrained in a car driven by a drunk is ok. Got it.

I made sure that a copy of the report was sent to Child Protective Services, with a recommendation for home visits and other follow-ups.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

One of those weeks.

Slow week. Only one memorable melonhead.

This one I caught as I was driving southbound on a busy city street at the beginning of rush hour. At the intersection ahead of me, there were three southbound lanes--a right turn only lane, a lane for folks to go straight, and a left turn only lane. The right turn lane was--as usual--backed up for about a block because that's where most people coming out of this area go to get on the freeway. The straight lane that I was in wasn't moving at all though. I nosed into the left turn lane to look ahead, and there was this little green Honda sitting right up at the intersection in the straight lane with it's right turn signal on, trying to get someone to let him cut in. The light for straight ahead was green, but he wasn't going forward, and because of him, no one else behind him could go through the intersection. Where's a cop when you need one? Oh yeah...

So I pulled into the left turn lane, drove up next to him, and pulled up window to window next to him, and hit my air horn. He looked over and saw me. "You! Go straight! Now!" I pointed for him to go through the intersection.

"But I'm going this way!" he yelled back, pointing right.

"No you're not," I replied. "Go straight. Now!"

Of course at this moment, some chucklehead in the right turn lane stopped for a second and created a gap, and my Honda driver just zipped into it, made the right turn, and headed for the freeway.

Oh, hell no. He did not just do that.

I motioned for the other trafic to hold up for a second and I went after him, catching him about a block down. Normally I'm pretty mellow and restrained, but it was near the end of my tour, I was hot and tired, and that was just plain disrespectful. And then he had the gall to ask one of the dumbest questions possible as soon as I walked up to his window:

"What are you stopping me for now? I didn't do anything wrong."

I got his license and registration and informed him that he was being stopped for turning from the wrong lane.

"No. I turned from the right lane. That guy let me in."

I explained that I had just given him a direct order to go straight, and he'd defied me by cutting into the right lane after I'd told him not to. I further explained that there was a solid white line running back up that lane for fifty feet, and that he was not allowed to cross that solid line even if someone had let him in.

"There was no solid white line there," he stated.

"Sir, you are more than welcome to go back there on your own time and look for yourself, but it's there. I know it's there, and the judge knows it's there if it comes to that."

"No. both of those lanes allow right turns."

"Sir, again--there are painted arrows on the pavement, and a large sign showing the direction of travel for each lane on the side of the roadway prior to the intersection. The traffic lights are also directional arrows, and I'm sure that you noticed that the green one for your lane was pointing straight ahead.

"But I had to turn there," he said. I'm trying to go home."

I explained--again--that he'd missed his turn when he'd failed to get into the turn lane in a timely manner like all those people that he'd just cut off had done and that I'd told him to go straight.

"I don't know how to get home from that direction," he whined.

I couldn't take it anymore. I just walked back to my car and stroked him out tickets for turning from the wrong lane and disregarding traffic control direction. His decision to bypass all of the people in that right lane and then cut them all off--and his decision to sit and argue it with me, obviously with the earnest belief that he and his desire to get home trumps everyone and everything else--earned him a hundred and fifty dollars in fines and five points on his license unles he decides to challenge the tickets in court. And I really hope that he does, because I know the magistrate and the way that he feels about lane-jumpers. Bring it on, little Honda man.

And for a bonus, I found my fake-handicapped tag Mercedes again yesterday. Incedulously, it was parked in another handicapped zone about three blocks from where I tagged it the last time. Maybe the owner figured that it was in a different memter maid's zone or something? Dude, I'm, I'm regional. I whacked him/her again with another $250.00 ticket. That's two. Wanna bet I can find it again next week? When I get three of those on the car, I'm calling the boot squad. And I WILL get my hands on that fake tag yet. The mere fact that the owner keeps using it despite the last ticket tells me that he/she still thinks that it's worth it to be able to park for free all day in spaces reserved for the actual disabled. I look forward to seeing this person in court one day soon, too. My magistrate is gonna love meeting them.