Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cops Complain of Speeding Tickets

Thoreau over at Unqualified Offerings links to this bizarre site, in which, believe it or not, cops complain about getting speeding tickets from other cops.

Now, to be fair, the site claims it's about "officers getting traffic tickets that ANY normal civilian could get a warning on, verbal or written." In fact, I think you could make a case enforcing traffic laws more strictly against off-duty police officers. After all, they don't need "warning," because they are presumably already aware of the law. Moreover, one might argue they should be traffic-code moral exemplars for the rest of us. Still, I don't favor giving anybody -- even cops -- tickets for going three miles per hour over the speed limit. (Speed limits are set way too low anyway.)

But, in fact, if you read the site, it's not about cops griping about getting rinky-dink tickets for stuff that civilians would get off for. Nope -- it's about cops griping about getting any tickets at all. The accounts show this incredible sense of entitlement. An entitlement to not be ticketed out of a sense of professional solidarity with other cops. I'm not naive enough to be surprised that such attitudes exist. What makes me a bit shocked is that the cops who demand this sort of treatment exhibit their demands in such a brazen and public way.

One guy complained because the Illinois State Police ticketed him for going 84.9 miles per hour. Now, I don't want to sound like I'm being holier-than-thou -- I have to admit I've driven 85. But if I were pulled over, I wouldn't gripe that much about getting a ticket.

Or read this complaint:

I am an active police officer in the NYPD and was driving down to Florida on March 4th 2007 which was the first time I have driven to Florida, not realizing in time the sign changed 65 to 45 i was slowing down and was nailed doing 61 in a 45 by Officer Brown 2416 (the summons copy is light) of LAWTEY PD Bradford County FL. I had to pay $185 which I didn't have on this avoidable summons. This officer could have cared less that he was writing another active police officer, I go out of my way to take care of other cops no matter where you may be visiting from.

I suspect that the reason the abrupt change from 65 to 45 is what is known as a "speed trap," and that there's s a reason why cops lurk there. I object, in in principle, to such tactics, but if the rest of us are going to get nailed for this sort of thing, well, I don't see why the NYPD should be immune. Likewise, I think it's abhorent that the NYPD officer admits to going out of his way to "take care of other cops."

Or consider this account:

On June 22, 2007 I was heading up US59 in Houston to go do my quarterly firearms qualification. Unfortunately, I was running late and was pulled over by Officer J.W. Harris, traffic enforcement, with Houston Police Department. I immediately pulled over and gave him my license and insurance. Officer Harris asked why I was speeding and I informed him that I was late for a range day and that I understood he was doing his job. I then showed him my credentials since I had my weapon on me. Officer Harris then checked to make sure that my inspection and registration were up to date and went back to his car.

Officer Harris took approximately ten minutes so I figured he was going show some professional courtesy and only make me “wait” awhile longer instead of stroking me a ticket. That wasn’t the case. Officer Harris ticketed me even after I identified myself as a law enforcement officer. I am currently working under cover in a Federal position and informed him that I too had previously been a police officer in both Houston and Dallas, Texas and had pulled over multitudes of Houston Police officers while working radar and had always shown them professional courtesy and sent them on their way.

What, the rest of us aren't in a hurry, either? If I'm pulled over because I'm late to something, and I explained that as the reason, the cop would be quite justified in responding "you should have left earlier." Apparently, "professional courtesy" is a euphemism for "cops get to break the law. All I can say is, good for you, Officer J.W. Harris.

Nobody tell Balko about this. His head might explode.

UPDATE; Mr. Balko found the site, and he seems to have survived. Just to be clear, this is one instance where I stand in solidarity with Radley Balko and my libertarian friends.


MikeT said...

They extend this professional courtesy to many other areas that they shouldn't, such as uses of force. They won't turn on their own, even when it is clear that they are corrupt and dangerous. Just look at all of the cases where cops get away with shooting someone in a way that a normal citizen would get arrested and prosecuted for. The Salvatori Culosi case is a good starting point on that.

society girl said...

I have always regarding the speed limit as more of a speed "guideline". Seriously, I dont think you can extrapolate from cops giving other cops a break on routine traffic violations to "cops allow other cops to shoot people" as miket tries to do!! That is totally ridiculous -- where is your evidence (and please don't cite the Thin Blue Line movie).