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.


Brett Allen said...

Good logic when defending that position.

I agree with you on using your discretion far more on cops who your life could depend on.

The reason people hate this though, is the fear that cops will be allowed to do whatever they want.

Like you said, DWI or felony are still going to be treated the same.

However, what if said cop routinely does 20 over wherever he goes, because he knows you won't ticket him?

Is there a process for dealing with a person acting obviously unprofessional? Would you ticket a cop who had that attitude :p

I don't necessarily believe someone should have more rights because of their job, but I definitely believe that someone who dedicates their lives to helping others, should be given a break when they mistakes. They're fixing others mistakes all day long.

Pavel said...

I don't know if I agree with your policy. I mean, how often does that situation come up?

But it's your call to make, and I'm not really mad about it. To be honest, I imagined that this would happen often even without this sort of valid rationalization. Just part of the world we live in, not going to get my panties in a wad.

I'd like to ask, though - if you pulled over another officer driving drunk, or otherwise breaking the law in a manner that puts other people at risk, would you treat them as a citizen?

I surely hope the answer is yes.

Jackie said...

I once asked the ex-father-in-law if he gave tickets to fellow LEO's. His answer was no not usually and for most of the reasons you mentioned. Also if you get a speeding ticket in his province you lose your license for a minimum one week, and as long as a year for repeat offenders.

He did recount one story however. He was sitting at the local highschool minding his own business,(the speed limit is 40km/hr when school is in and 50km/hr at all other times), when a car blasted pass him doing over 100km/hr. The driver was a LEO from the local Detachment (ex-FIL is CityPD). Who happens to be not very well liked for a variety of reasons(yes even his own co-workers thought this as well). Ex-FIL was very happy to hand him over $1000 in tickets and a 2 week driving suspension for speeding in a school zone. But that was a one off.

I personally have no problems with the speeding ticket "issue". When it gets into more serious siduations like DUI's and DV's and stuff slides, then I get worried.


YourEggcellency said...

I understand why you wouldn't ticket a fellow police officer (especially since you mention you've given many civilian drivers a pass), but to claim it's partly because civilians never show up to lend a hand in a dangerous situation is a little silly. I understand the camaraderie of the police force, but a situation you described is a job for the police, or those who have been trained to deal with like matters. I have a feeling if civilians did show up & offer their assistance, you'd speedily turn them down because most people are not equipped to handle the situations police officers have been trained to handle. That's why we leave it to the professionals!

Andrea said...

Normally I'd agree but a few of the things you said really burned me up. Both you and your partner have stopped this officer for speeding before and yet, he continues to speed. And not just 5 or 10 over the limit. Fast enough for you to describe it as "warp speed". So why would he slow down? It's been proven to him (on at least three occasions) that he's not going to face any consequences. That is, until he kills somebody. You know as well as anybody that speed is one of the top contributors to automobile accidents.

And your comment that regular citizens don't jump in a fight with you or provide back up? Hell no we don't. That's not my job. It's my job (as a regular citizen) to obey the law and get the hell out of the way when an office is trying to enforce it. Not to play hero and potentially fuck up a situation even worse than it already is.

There are so many things that upset me about this post but at the risk of sounding like a crazed lunatic, I will just say that you really let me down. I'm not going to read this blog anymore. Maybe I'm naive but I'd rather believe that police officers are willing to cut each other a break, but not hold themselves above the law.

Dani B. said...

Do you extend the same courtesy to EMTs and firefighters? They'd be with you in a second too if you had some sort of trouble that was in their line of work.

Buddy said...

I understand the desire cut some slack for other officers, but I don't buy the justification. He knew he was breaking the law, and he was putting others at risk for a trivial cause - just like (most of) the other speeders you pull over.

I don't think an officer should be exempted from the rules they are enforcing. If speeding is petty, (and it's not if your going fast enough) why would you ever enforce it?

I'm sure that there are civilians that would stop to help you in a fight. I know I would. I'm also pretty sure that they would not be allowed to help you track down armed criminals, not necessarily because they are unwilling, but because of liabilities, legal issues, and a simple lack of training.

You are definitely not alone in your reasoning, and you might even catch some flack for writing a ticket to an officer. For that reason alone, you might have come to the best decision for you, but that doesn't make it just.

Mad Jack said...

...or respond and jump in when I'm in a fight.

Maybe not to you, but it does happen. An elite cadre of middle aged (or better) slightly overweight men jumped in to help an lone officer subdue a combative, young, muscular male who deeply resented being arrested in a nice restaurant in Eau Claire, WI. I was told it was a long fight, but between three of them they finally got the handcuffs on him.

Then he wanted to kick, so there was more wrestling and cursing. He was finally carried to the back seat of the patrol car. I gather the man was high on meth - or whatever it is that makes a man fiendishly difficult to subdue and immune to pain.

fatfred said...

Sorry about your relationship with the citizens in your area. Where I live (rural NC) we all stop when we see the sheriff's dept. or local PD.
Almost no one stops for HP since they can't accept help without problems from their supervisors. A good friend of mine on SD, now medically retired, had his life saved by an old man with a shotgun.
Said old man kept crowd at bay while deputy arrested wild man.

Sister Copinherhair said...

If this was Facebook, I'd hit the "Like" button. It's a brotherhood, plain and simple. And it is really no different than me not charging the other hairdressers I work with to do their hair.

Officer Krupke said...

Brett, you asked what I do if an officer I encounter is less than professional.

It's happened twice. Both times, I've called their supervisors, and you can believe me that by the time it was done reverberating, they'd have probably rather just had the tickets.

Courtesy goes both ways around here.

HonkingAntelope said...

Well, Ofc. Krupke, lemme put it this way... I have a California-legal AR-15 and I wouldn't have any problem with stopping by and offering a helping hand if I ever saw an officer in obvious trouble and happened to have my rifle handy (otherwise that officer had better give me his backup gun). Not only would I get a chance to plug some useless turd right through the head, I'd even get to mug around for the TV cameras and be called a @#$%^& hero!

Then again, I don't have a police scanner in my car, so even if an officer was being shot at a block away, I probably wouldn't even hear it inside my car...

If every city had a PA system that would make a city-wide announcement along the lines of "Every armed citizen - respond ASAP to the intersection X-Y to assist officer in trouble," I'm sure you'd have more than enough willing volunteers :-))

CAPTCHA: essenisa

Isaac said...

What do you tell ordinary citizens who are speeding because they're late for work?

"Leave earlier next time, here's your ticket".

Why does this line of reasoning not apply to people without a badge?

Pavel said...

Yeah, I'm sure that the police want civilians with guns jumping in on their side.

BootedCop said...

20 yrs, never ticketed a cop, probably never will. But like you said Krupke, "courtesy goes both ways". I could imagine a scenario where the cop I stopped was such a jackass that he could incite me into citing him/her, but they would really have to be an asshole. Every cop I've ever pulled over has been embarrassed, respectful and humble about it.

Professional courtesy, yes, it's my right to use my discretion however I please. But if I give a copper a break, I give the next 3 civilians a break as well to make it fair. If I get pulled over (it's happened couple of times over the years), the next 10 get off Scot-free. It's my personal way of keeping myself honest.

HokiePundit said...

I don't like this at all. The police have a reputation as claiming to be the "Only Ones" who can do certain things. If we're to all be equal under law, this casts that into doubt. I wouldn't give another lawyer, even another prosecutor, a break that I wouldn't give to a regular citizen. Police officers and prosecutors are public servants and if they (we) are to be entrusted with power delegated to us by the citizens, we have to use it fairly and without bias based on being friends or colleagues.

The Happy Medic said...

But in all honesty, had he left home on time he would still have been able to respond to the incident. Speeding to work in an unsafe manner is not excusable. I didn't see if he was in a marked LEO car or not, although you mentioned him setting up the CP from his car. Marked car, moving along is OK, but exceeding the speed limit just because he's "late?"
Do I get a pass if I'm late for the firehouse?
A tough spot to be in for sure.

Ann T. said...

Dear Officer Krupke,
I understand about professional courtesy. However, I would help you if you were in a jam.

The thing is, it's not I won't but many times you all won't accept it. Can't say I blame you. How do you know what I can do or not do for you? That I'm not some anti-cop nut in disguise?

So, I don't have a problem with the tickets too much. I just wish the your folks v. my folks divide was not quite so high or hard to surmount.

Lots of times I want to thank you all, but there's a big 'no time for you' sign on your backs. And maybe that's also true. I'm not a problem, and I know there's plenty of those.

Understanding works both ways too.
I get it, all the reasons why, and I still think it's a huge loss.
Ann T.

Brett Allen said...

Officer Krupke, hah! I didn't think about that.

Everyone gets a ticket, getting bitched out by your boss, who is a police officer vet...sounds scary.

BunnyO said...

Screw the haters. You can't make everyone understand and no matter what, people aren't going to agree with you. The people criticizing you are the same ones who would stand around gawking in awe if you got into a bad situation. The "everybody heard it but nobody saw it" crowd.

The officer you let go would be the one shooting the person trying to kill you and the one pulling you out of a wrecked and burning patrol car.

Dee said...

If a citizen stopped to back you up, would you be appreciative or highly suspicious of their motives and tell them to move along? I've never seen a police officer be pleased at interference of any type from a civilian, nor would they want an armed civilian behind them backing them up. What's your take on that?

Andrew said...

Rationalize all you want, but you're exercising a double standard. Can't do the time? Don't do the crime. Equal protection under the law should mean just that.

And every time we see special people getting special treatment, it just adds to our distrust in our public servants and widens the divide.

HensMom said...

I usually read your blog and comments and never post but I feel strongly about this so I'm replying! I agree with your thinking 100%!
I'm not a law enforcement officer but my Dad is. I always looked at it the same as the hair stylist who commented below. "You get 20% where you work right?"
Speeding or a seat belt violation would be about the extent of a let go that most officers would give anyway. I don't know of any officer who would let a drunk driver go PERIOD.
Law enforcement officers, firemen, EMTs all share a brotherhood that most can't fathom. They put up with may more crap during a shift than most people ever have to deal with at their desk jobs. So what if a cop doesn't give another cop a ticket? Sure doesn't bother me. If you are cordial, admit you were wrong and you weren't driving like a complete idiot you probably will get a warning too.
I have nothing but respect for the job you do! Keep it up :)

Anonymous said...

Um...Hope you don't mind, but I've got to say this.

Yes, it's your 'job' to do what you do. You chose it and I thank you for it.

But, when you say a civilian never shows up to help? Well, it's 'not our job' to show up and help, but I'll tell you this much. I've had the opportunity to 'assist' an officer in the past and I've done it. Nothing like chasing someone down, or getting the officer out of the way after they've been shot or anything like that. I have seen an officer wrestling with a drunk on the side of the road and saw no other LEO in sight. I turned around, pulled over and called to see if he needed help, he said something about no radio and I hit 911 and let them know.

It turns out his radio got smashed in the incident and he didn't know if there was anyone on the way to back him up.

No, it's 'not my job', yes, I stopped. I've also heard others in similar situations.

I applaud you for not wanting and/or not ticketing fellow LEO's. I also applaud you for your attitude as far as ticketing citizens. I understand why it's done. But, I can see Joe public's point of view as well.

I just wish more people would understand why LEO's do things the way they do. If not, ask.