mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Friday, March 25, 2005

You don't eff with the po-leece..

I tend to be sympathetic to the police. I mean, I complain about my helpdesk job, but I don't have to deal with anyone shooting at me, and very few of my callers are drunk or on drugs, at least when they are on the phone with me. Maybe it comes from reading David Simon's book Homicide, or watching too many episodes of The Wire, but I tend to side with the cops when I hear about a police involved shooting. It kind of brings to mind the line from A Few Good Men, where one of the Navy JAG attorneys is asked why she likes the navy guys who are being court-marshalled so much, and she says that it's because they stand on a line and tell us that everything is going to be allright.

But there is one thing about seeing a cop that always makes me want to start humming some of Ice Cube's "F*** the Police" - speed traps. I drove up to New Jersey today from Baltimore by way of Pennsylvania, and there were a ton of speed traps. Considering that it's getting towards the end of the month, that makes me wonder if rumors that cops give out tickets at the end of the month to make a quota are true. None of the areas that the cops were set up were dangerous - they were mostly straight stretches of road in a clear area.

To me, speed traps don't exist to make driving safer - they, like red light cameras, are designed as a tax on people unlucky enough to be caught. Pretty much everyone speeds, and everyone is a potential criminal. This is a wide-open opportunity for police to profile by race or age or gender or car type, and even if they don't, it makes people wonder if they do.

Mad Anthony has only gotten stopped for speeding once so far, back in his wild college days. I was on the debate team, and was piloting a college-owned 15 passenger Ford Econoline down 29 South to a tournament at UVA. I got stopped for doing 73 in a 55. Almost everyone on the way to the debate got snagged. You also could pay your fine by credit card. While a 2-point ticket isn't supposed to affect insurance, I did get turned down for a "safe driver discount" last year when I changed insurance companies because of that ticket. Now, if one of my fellow debaters had been driving, I wouldn't have gotten that ticket and would be considered a safe driver - although I wouldn't be any better a driver, just luckier.

For many people, the only time they deal with the police besides having an accident or being a crime victim is when they get pulled over. I don't think speed is as dangerous as the safety nazis like to say it is, and I don't think speed traps have an impact on making the roads safer. What they do is make citizens not like cops so much, and to me that does more damage than any potential benefit.

My dad is the very model of a law-abiding citizen. He is one of the few people I know who regularly drives below the speed limit. For the most part he has usually figured that people who get pulled over deserve it. That changed a few years ago when he got pulled over at a NJ inspection checkpoint and fined $41 because his left high beam was burned out. He now has a much more negitive view of the police and traffic enforcement.

I do have to say that the MD, PA, and even NJ state troopers I've passed in the 5 or so years I've been driving back and forth between NJ and MD seem to be more reasonable than the VA sheriff I was unlucky enough to encounter. I've regularly driven by them at 15 or 20 mph above the limit without being pulled over, so it seems like they for the most part just pull over the very fast drivers. I do keep wondering if I should buy a radar detector before my luck runs out. I had one, but it stopped sticking to my windsheild, and I never bothered to replace or fix it.


At 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an ex police officer (retired). In my 25 years I wrote many speeding tickets, however, I did not write everyone that I stopped. I had more individuals say "Thank you" than I had negative comments. Sure, everyone speeds at one time or another but there is a high probability the speeder who exceeded the limit by more than 15 miles and hour most likely has a history of summonses. I never was given any type of quota nor did I hand down any quotas to the junior officers. Speeding is a large factor in causing accidents. Brakes only stop the wheels of a vehicle, not the vehicle itself. I never heard any administrator or senior officer liken issuing summonses to generating income. If you speed frequently you will get speeding tickets. Only blame yourself for your own actions.

At 8:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Drivers who can't handle the cars they drive at any speed are the ones the cause accidents. Look at people who have been in a lot of MVA's and then look how many speeding tickets they have gotten. I would bet there is no correlation between the two. Cops have one purpose only when trapping: money. Why do you think they have quota's? You can debate all you want that there are no quota's, but the intelligent notice there are far more cops trapping closer to the end of the month. How about work zones (double fines) where there is no work going on? Maybe the Nazi regime the police are becoming at the behest of our elected officials should learn a lesson about morality. Cops should realize the fact that they are no more than meter maids with a guns. I have yet to actually see a cop help anyone... ever. So become a police officer! Fight crime! And don't forget to fill out those tickets correctly.


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