Come on, Capt., you should know better.

Okay, I’ll say it. Professional courtesy has a place in this industry. Throw in the fact that I’m a retired Firefighter’s kid, odds are cops and firefighters get more warnings than cites from me. But here’s the thing, two things, actually, 1)Don’t be a dick and 2)Don’t do something you should damn well know better than to do.

If you violate rule #1, I will cite you. I don’t care who you are (or who you think you are). If you have some sort of holier-than-thou, we-both-know-you-aren’t-gonna-cite-me, I’m-entitled-to-a-break, attitude? Guess what, Sally? You’re getting a fucking ticket. And now you know why.

To be fair, I rarely run into rule #1 violators. I can literally count them on one hand. #2, on the other hand, happened just this week….please to enjoy…

I was in front of a pickup truck (clue #1…the truck) at a stop sign when I saw the driver put his left hand out the window. The left hand held a cigarette. The thumb flicked the butt and ash fell from the cigarette. One of my pet peeves. A lot of people misconstrue the violation (CVC 23111), but let me assure you, flicking your ash out the window is the same thing as straight throwing your butt out the window. It’s a lit substance. Lit substances have the ability to start other shit on fire. Fire bad. Fire destroy property and, quite possibly, life.

Anytime I see someone flicking ash out their window, they get a ticket. Oh, and it ain’t cheap. I don’t have a specific number, but it’s in the $500 range. This is my mindset when I light this guy up. I contacted him and he handed me his CDL and, what’s this?, his Fire Dept. ID. Are you fucking kidding me? The ID (I won’t identify the department) identified him as a Captain. A Captain?!?! What the fuck? I asked him if he knew why I stopped him. His response, “Yeah, I didn’t have my seatbelt on.”

**Remember that scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when Ferris realizes the schmucks at the parking garage took that sweet car out for a joyride? Remember Cameron’s reaction? Yeah, that’s the one. In my head, I did the same thing.**

MC: Wait. Let me get this straight. You didn’t have your seatbelt on?
Capt: That’s right.
MC: *sigh* I stopped you because you’re ashing out your window. Shit, Cap, you should know better.
Capt (shakes his head): Yeah, I know.

Now it’s decision time. I’m struggling with my inner Motor and my inner Firekid. Motor says, “Cite this mother fucker. He damn well knew better.” Firekid says, “Hey man, cut him a break, he’s a firefighter, just like your Dad.” ARGH!!!

In the end, I decided on a compromise. I warned him for the ash and cited him for the seatbelt. My rationalization was that I’m still penalizing him and the seatbelt (at this time of year) was more of an inherent danger. I must admit, though, as I write this I’m wishing I’d have ragged him for the ash, or both. ‘Cause here’s the thing…this guy is nothing like my Dad. My Dad had ocean’s more respect for both his life, his family’s life and the world in which we live to so callously and without thought treat his neighborhood like his own personal ash tray.

I know they’re out there. Men and women in both my Dad’s and my professions that treat it like nothing more than a paycheck. It’s just frustrating when I run across them. I had them on such a huge pedestal as a kid. Seeing them through the eyes of a grown, responsible man can be a bummer. Sometimes, you just don’t want your childhood heroes to be sullied by some irresponsible douche.

I want my kids to look at me the way I looked, and still look, at my Dad. Here’s to hoping. Lord knows I’ll do all I can.

Oh, if it sounds like I’m being a bit over-critical, I must have forgotten to mention Capt. is on probation for DUI. Yeah. Totally should’ve ragged him for both. Oh well, lesson learned.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

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25 thoughts on “Come on, Capt., you should know better.

  1. I absolutely think you should have cited him for both. He knows better. He sounds exactly like the kind who shouldn't be cut a break. He expects it and will do it again. If anything, cutting him a break will only make him more careless. But hindsight is 20/20 and all that.

  2. Sadly, all professions have good guys and bad guys. You just happened to run into one of the worst guys. Just like people, cops and fire come in all shapes and sizes with attitudes to match. Be glad that your role model was (and is) in a class all his own. The bad news – this dope likely has kids who witness his example. Great – jerkwads procreate too.

  3. I hope you know I was only kidding when I was asking about professional courtesy yesterday… LOL

    Anyway, w/ hindsight being 20/20, like Stoneheart said, the Capt. deserved to be stroked for both. I probably feel like this because I worked damn hard to get my job and someone like that is still on the job after a DUI, and apparently didn't really learn anything from it. Bleech…

  4. Gotta disagree with you on this one MC, VC 23111 is also one of my pet peeves, in fact I get a kick out of writing "violation of The Paul Buzzo Act" in the description next to the section (look it up in the VC, you non-motors, it's there), I think citing someone for just flicking the ash out the window, is frankly, chicken shit. MC I know we may end up disagreeing to disagree on this, and that is of course okay, after all we are fellow motors and to each is own. Throwing a lit cigarette out on the road? That's Cite-o Automatico in my book. But I just had to say the ash thing–that may be the letter of the law but I definitely don't think it's in the spirit of the law. Again, agree to disagree I guess.

    As for the fire capt., yes he sounds like an imbecile. If it were me who stopped him, he most likely would have gotten a strong ridiculing and a lecture.

    Keep the rubber side down!

  5. Fellow MC,

    I understand the distinction with spirit vs. letter, but this one just sticks in my craw. I'm not a crunchy, granola type, but the Earth ain't your ashtray.

    That, and our local judge doesn't take kindly to it, either, so it's an easy conviction.

    We can agree to disagree and still meet for a cup. 🙂

  6. Fellow Motorcop … somebody thoughtlessly flicks anything burning (ash or cig butt) from a vehicle as they drive through the 100 acre wood and doesn't give thought to the possibility of a brush fire or raging 3-alarmer is a complete and absolute moron. It's careless, illegal and should be punishable by more than a cite. I gotta go with MC on this one.

  7. I woulda cited him for both when he handed you his FD ID like it was a "Get Out of Jail Free" card or something. I'm surprised you thought twice! You're going soft on me.

  8. You should have cited him with 451(d). The DA wouldn't make him plea to it, but they might have made him admit a VOP and spend 10 days in the county clink 😉

  9. Aaron,

    Thx for the heads up! A little searching and I did come across it on the Eye on Blogs tab. I assume that's what you are talking about? Very cool!

    Oh, and "Soul Crusher"? I like it. 🙂

    Wife,

    What can I say? I had a crisis of conscience. Yes, I have one. ;-p

  10. Holy crap! I must have seen a very small snippet of what the CBS5 blog had…the Wife sent me a link. There are a number of links to my blog.

    I was both surprised and totally stoked! Thanks again, Aaron, for letting me know!

  11. I cite people for 2311 if they flick ash as well. I didn't used to, but then I had an epiphany of sorts.

    I had a gal drop ash out the window on my boot one afternoon. When I looked down I realized the ash was still smoking, and therefore still burning.

    I put it out for her, then I cited her for it. Once I realized the ash was actually still burning, I realized I was good to go on the ash, not just the whole butt.

    Sometimes one person really can ruin it for the rest.

  12. I can say that I've never ticketed a fellow officer to this day, but I have called a couple of their supervisors when they insisted on acting like assholes. Courtesy is supposed to go both ways.

  13. I am an ex-smoker but it always made me cringe to see people flicking their ashes out of the window (or the butts), especially in the summer when the wind from passing cars could blow them into the dry sides of the freeway. Ashtrays are in cars for a reason, use them, people! My opinion is you should have cited him. He of all people should have known better, and should be an example to all smokers.

  14. SD,

    It's true we can definitely be Jerk-Offs….but, speaking for myself, I'm only that way with people who deserve it.

    Depending on how many of us you've met and if each one has been a Jerk-Off, perhaps you should consider the common denominator in each occasion.

    Just something to consider.

  15. Giving a $200+ ticket to someone for ashing is the kind of thing that gives the general public a bad opinion of cops. Unless that person was really being a jerk, then maybe. But as far as most people are concerned, the tax paying public does not appreciate being "morally" policed with fines that do not fit the crime. A simple warning would do…

    Furthermore, giving a Code 23111 citation for "ashing" is technically not following the "letter" of the law simply because there is no "ash" stated or referenced in the code. Any fair judge should dismiss the charge until the code is revised to specify "ashing"…

    Thank you…

  16. I think you should think about leaving the "professional courtesy" at home. if you aren't going to warn Joe Citizen rather than citing him, then Joe Cop or Joe Firefighter should not be enjoying the benefits of being scofflaws. Why create an informal exception for cops and firefighters that the rest of the state doesn't enjoy. Justice is about treating people equally regardless of race, creed, etc……or "job." I also think "fellow motor" out there who has never written a ticket to a fellow cop should rethink his sense of being "equal under the law." You are citing them for an offense against the public good. I don't care if they are a cop, citizen, judge, DA, firefighter, little old lady, or the President.

  17. This smells like bullsh*t to me….

    I got pulled over and ticketed today for a "23111 VC".

    In Whittier, in the middle of my usual 12 hour construction shift, went to get lunch. Rolled down the window of my truck and lit a cigarette and stuck my arm out the window to enjoy it.

    I saw a CHP at a stop light and went to make a right turn. Flicked the cigarette, CHP guy pulls me over.

    Going back to the original message, 1) I wasn’t a dick- hands on steering wheel, had all documents, and answered all questions in the appropriate kings English. Was confused about what this little guy wanted, as my last ticket was for a seatbelt over 10 years ago. 2) Label me ignorant of the law, but I had no idea that driving in an industrial railroad part of Whittier would yield a devastating ticket for littering/fire hazard from flicking a cigarette ash. A national park, yes. An Indian reservation, yes. On a concrete street surrounded by railroads? The punishment on this ticket is unjustifiable and you can’t look me in the eye and tell me otherwise.

    Little CHP guy states that flicking an ash is the same as throwing a cigarette out the window, its a fire hazard. Keep in mind that there are pedestrian transients and day laborers smoking and ashing standing around the side walks all around us.

    I now understand the severity of my crime and the risk I posed to society- charge me a hundred bucks and I will work the mandatory 8 hours to ensure that I "learned my lesson". That sucks but its fair. The idea of having to pay around $400-$1000 PLUS 8 hours mandatory community service (which will cost me more than $400-$1000) for, as the little CHP guy listed on the ticket "FLICKING AN ASH OUT THE WINDOW" is complete chickenshit (as the previous officer states).

    I lived in LA all my life and always supported you guys. Even when some of you were cowarding in your cars and my aunts store in Koreatown was under attack in ‘92.

    This ticket dropped my respect level. Especially with the Bell investigation, and now the Vernon investigation unfolding.

    Dont fund your busted out bankrupt police dept, city, and state by hitting someone with a $500 fine and 8 hours community services for ASHING THEIR F'ING CIGARETTE.

    BY THE WAY. When the small gentleman was writing me up, a homeless Whittier gentleman rummaged through the trash across the street. Scattered papers and rubbish everywhere, got his cans and bottles and left.

    Did the cop "stubbing" me for $500 plus 8 hours community service for ashing a cigarette even look at him twice? Hell no.

    Entirely laughable and I am looking forward to more stories of blatant extortion from Cali-Nazis protecting your industrial railroad streets in Whittier from "becoming an ash tray." and catching on fire.

    … and guess who is going to have $500 less to spend on items in Whittier, and who is going to lose 8 hours productivity expanding your railroad? This guy.

    We will see if the original blogger will have the huevos to "approve" this message. I am curious at your response.

  18. Yet another example of blameshifting. Timely comment, Cris, I'll give you that.

    Instead of being man enough to admit your mistake, you wanted the "little CHP guy" to focus on what you perceived as a more significant issue. Poor you.

    You don't like the fine amount? Here are two simple strategies to avoid it: 1)don't ash out your window. 2)write the legislature…because we've nothing to do with the amount of the fine.

    This seems like a classic example of whining to me. I'll go ahead and guess that you, being the obvious health nut that you are, would just never, ever commit the same violation when not in a "safe" industrial railway area.

    Read the section…it doesn't say anything about the surrounding area. Lord knows there are never any combustible materials at any time in an area such as you describe.

    As far as Whittier losing out on your big $500 contribution to their economy…I'm sure they'll survive just fine.

    And lastly…"bullsh*t"? Have you not read my blog, man? You can say bullshit. Don't be afraid.

  19. I think the comments in your message prove my point and enforce the "us vs them" attitude that some cops have against citizens…

    BUT I appreciate you having the respect to post an opposite view on your blog.

    Please keep in mind the ambiguity of this code that states that you cant discharge a glowing or lit object on city streets. Consumed ashes, in my opinion, are not lit or glowing (especially at 12 noon).

    I get that a rule has been broken. But $500 and 8 hours community services for ashing a cigarette? First time offense? Just saying that statement makes everyone I told the story to cringe.

    I respect law enforecement for dealing with some of the animals out there, but my view is tainted.

  20. Cris…

    I don't think this venue would be half as entertaining and educational if there weren't dissenting opinions. I appreciate the opportunity to argue (remember when that wasn't a bad thing?)

    At any rate, if you don't like the fine, I humbly refer you to my response to your initial comment. On top of that, you have correctly interpreted the section. Why didn't you go to court to argue it? I've seen folks win that very argument by asking the cop that question. If he/she is any kind of honest person, they may very well answer that they didn't see it glowing (particularly in the daytime).

    The way around that is, of course, not cite for 23111, but for simply littering. 🙂