Oh, no he didn’t!
Yes. Yes, he did.
Let’s revisit professional courtesy for a moment, shall we? Listen, I believe in it. Just like all the other LEO blogs you read. Have I been on the receiving end of it? Yup. Have I given it? Yup. Is it as simple as that? Nope.
I’m not going to delve into how I “got out of a ticket” or why I let others slide. The fact is it happens. Do I “offset” it by giving warning to regular citizens? Sure, if it makes you feel better. As a matter of course, though, I can tell you that I give regular citizens breaks every now and then regardless of how many “professional courtesy” stops I make. Again, folks, it’s all about attitude.
Read that last line again. See that last word, “attitude”? Well this guy started to have one and I showed him the error of his ways….
MC: Do you know why I stopped you?
UFF: I think I was going to fast?
MC: Yeah, but it’s not the end of the world (standard line, by the by). Do you have your license, registration, and insurance with you today?
UFF: Sure. (He grabs the appropriate documents and hands them over. I saw him put some kind of ID card on the center console real subtle like, but he never mentioned it.)
MC: Okay, hang tight, I’ll be right back.
So, I walked back to the bike and started running him out. I started to scratch out the ticket when I see him get out of his truck (should have been a clue, you fire-eaters love you some trucks).
UFF (sees me writing a ticket…throws up his hands in general frustration/irritation): But, I’m a firefighter!
MC (seeing an opportunity to educate a relatively younger member of this, our Public Service): Come here. (Said with just a hint of “I don’t give a shit who you are”). Let me explain something to you. I’m all for professional courtesy, but here’s the thing…it’s that last word, courtesy. Do you think you’re acting either courteous or professional right now?
UFF (Uneducated Fire Fighter): No
MC: Just because you happen to be a firefighter isn’t an automatic pass for a violation. As a matter of fact, you should know better because you see the results of speeding vehicles first hand!
UFF: Yeah. I was just…
MC: Hey! I’m not done lecturing you. If I’m going to give you a warning, you better believe you’re getting a lecture.
MC: The point here is that professional courtesy means that you have the proper attitude, take responsibility for your actions and are at least minimally polite! You have done none of those things! Do you think jumping out of your truck, throwing your hands up and yelling out, “But I’m a firefighter!” makes you look like a responsible adult or a demanding child? You should know better, don’t you think?
UFF (genuinely subdued and appearing remorseful): You’re right. I apologize.
So, I let him off with a warning. Now, before some of you get your panties in a bunch, you should know that I’ve had very similar conversations with regular citizens. Every once in a while, my job entails education. Often times, that education includes a lecture. Odds are that if I lecture you, you won’t get a ticket…depending on your attitude! Don’t forget that firefighters, EMS, and cops are people as well. Look beyond the badge, the patches, the guns, the medical bags. We fuck up, too. It happens…
And for those of you behind the badge, the patches, the guns, and the medical bags…I think it’d be good to remember how you want to be treated at a traffic stop, detail, and/or medical emergency. Go into each of them thinking about that and I’ll just bet it’ll be smoother sailing.