Decision Time – MC’s Take

Wow. Let me start by saying you all certainly took me seriously. Decision Time was my 2nd most popular post (based on sheer comments) of all time and in over two years. I appreciate the time and thought the lot of you spent in reacting to my post.

It seems the majority are okay with how the incident turned out. There were, as there are wont to be, the extremes on either side. But by and large, most of you seemed to feel the violation was extreme enough to warrant the citation after the more pressing matter was dealt with.
Now…here’s my opinion…
From a Monday morning quarterback standpoint, everybody was wrong in this matter.
Huh?!? You read that right. Everyone. It’s important to remember that this is looking from the outside in. That’s an important distinction here and one that, quite frankly, society and the media at large take for granted on a daily freaking basis. As a quick example, let’s talk about “excessive force”. If you’ve never wrestled with someone and felt like you were fighting for your life, your opinion lands you squarely in the Monday morning QB role. We, as officers, are required by you, society, to make split second decisions that we all have to live with for the rest of our lives. Try and keep that in mind when you’re hanging out at the water cooler drinking your third cup of joe near your cube farm before you strap on the judgy pants.
I have no idea what Mom and Dad’s birth plan was for junior. I think it’s fair to assume it didn’t involve breaking land speed records, though. The bottom line is this: Dad was putting his life, his wife’s life, and his unborn son’s life at risk. Period. I don’t care what time of day it was. I don’t care what the road conditions were. I don’t care what the condition of his tires were. 102 mph (unless your a professionally trained driver) is patently unsafe.
Allow me to get my hat with the whirly-gig on top….there it is…okay. 102 MPH is 152.592 fps (feet per second). Do me a favor. Reread that sentence. It probably took you somewhere between 1 and 3 seconds to read that. In that time, Dad’s car traveled between 152 and 457 feet. Human perception and reaction time (combined) is 1.5 seconds. That means that it takes Dad 1.5 seconds to see something ahead and react to it. In that 1.5 seconds, Dad will travel 229 feet. That’s 229 feet before he’s even done anything folks!
Now, let’s add to that. The 1.5 second perception/reaction time is for someone who is paying attention to what they’re doing. I think it’s fairly safe to assume that when your wife’s water breaks in the passenger seat of your car and she’s (more than likely) freaked out a bit (what with you hauling ass and all), your attention is not going to be 100% on the roadway in front of you. And just for fun, I’ll throw in that it was nighttime…that equals more limited visibility.
Let’s talk about the cell phone bit. As one of you pointed out, there is no cell phone law in NH. Thus, not a violation. Pretend it was CA, though. There is an exemption in the law for using a cell phone in an emergency. Now before HM gets his panties in a wad about me using “emergency” in the previous sentence, I have to assume this would satisfy the spirit of the exemption in the law. (Sorry, brother).
What should Dad have done? Much like a lot of you pointed out…he should have called 911 for an ambulance. Medics are trained for things eerily similar to what Dad was experiencing. One non-emotionally invested medic drives the big red bus and the other tends to Mom-to-be. There’s a reason EMS exists, people. For all the bitching (justifiable as it may be) that medics to about the abuses of their system, I’m pretty sure this one fits quite nicely.
What about the trooper?
The only thing I can do here is put myself in his shoes…just like I asked you to do. Would I stop a car traveling at almost twice the legal freeway speed limit. Try and stop me. Would I get bent when the car fails to yield? Possibly. Would I have called it a pursuit? Possibly. Once Dad yielded, would I have ripped him a new one until I figured out the situation? Maybe, maybe not. Here’s something a lot of you don’t think about…adrenaline. Adrenaline courses through your average cop’s body like oil through a finely tuned high performance engine. We thrive on it. My point is that to expect a calm “Good evening, sir. Do you know why I stopped you?” may not be the delivery after this escapade.
For argument’s sake, though, let’s say I get Dad stopped and I figure out birth is imminent. What do I do? I call for code 3 fire/ambulance for a delivery in progress and I revert to my limited training in delivering said child. Believe me, it is not something I want to do. I don’t want to get shot at either, but I strap on the vest every day and go to work. This is part of what we sign on for. All we can do is pray for the bus to get there with a quickness.
Why wouldn’t I escort them, you say? Uh…liability?!? Once I start escorting these people, I have now “bought” Mr. and Mrs. Pregnant. They are mine. I own them. If anything happens to them en route, who’s to blame? ME!
Hey…it’s a sad state of affairs that guys like me have to keep that in our minds, but it’s our preciously litigious society that has brought that kind of thinking on. You want to blame someone? Look in the mirror.
What was Dad legally risking? An infraction for driving in excess of 100MPH (which he was cited for), a misdemeanor for reckless driving (which any cop worth his salt could articulate at that speed), and another misdemeanor for failing to comply with a peace officer’s orders (not stopping for the pretty lights and siren).
Note that I said risking. He was obviously not arrested and his son was born healthy, happy, and oblivious to all the drama (which all was essentially his fault, really…welcome to parenthood, Dad). It seems obligatory to me that Dad was risking a whole lot more…all of their lives and the lives of the officer(s) that had to deal with this.
Dad needs to suck it up, pay the fine, and be happy he didn’t kill anyone.
Listen, Society. You are not highly trained medical professionals. You haven’t trained for hundreds of hours in high speed driving. You haven’t trained about tunnel vision (see? you don’t even know what that means!) and it’s tendency to harm you. You are not being a hero by getting Mommy to the hospital as quick as you can. So, knock it off!
Oh…and don’t get me started about Dad’s “press conference” where he says he wasn’t being reckless. That just made me want to drive really fast to New Hampshire and punch him.
It’s okay, though…I’m a trained professional.

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

8 thoughts on “Decision Time – MC’s Take

  1. I loved reading the opinions on this one, thank you. 🙂 As a civilian the thought of liability to the cop somehow didn't occur to me. I can totally see where you are coming from.

    Out of curiosity, my mom is a doctor, and on more than one occasion she has received escorts or rides to the hospital to deal with medical emergencies. Would you feel the same way about those escorts? To be clear, she didn't speed, or didn't speed much, on these occasions. Instead she received the escort to get her through lights, traffic, etc. Obviously, I wasn't there for these, I've just heard about them secondhand.

  2. Your decision is predicated on the fact that you, personally, know what is best for me. That isn't always true. In this case John Coughlin did it right. He got his wife to the hospital safely. The State trooper did it right. He provided an escort rather than waiting around from a big red bus that would never arrive in time.

    John Coughlin did what was best for him, something you might want to consider from the safety of your armchair.

  3. Thanks for your point of view. You brought up points I wouldn’t have thought of and thanks also for the stats. It’s incredible when you realise how far he would have travelled just in the time it would have taken him to react.
    It certainly makes you stop and think.

  4. Reader reaction was interesting, to say the least. I have driven well over that speed in a variety of cruisers and astride a Harley-Davidson. Ok…so the Harley run was personal and, yes, it was also inexcusable, but sometimes…..you just gotta know.

    Even with the classroom and practical training we get every year each instance cited above was a teensy bit scary. The older I get, the scarier it gets.

    At least he wasn't yanked out of the car at gunpoint and cuffed up. He should feel lucky.

    And that is coming from a guy who was born under similar circumstances. My old man was stationed on air base, but they used a hospital on a navy base. He got pulled over by the air base police that night, who ended up providing an escort to the hospital across town. But that was back in the day when the 'ambulance' was known as a 'crash-wagon.' Basically, it was a station wagon driven by a police officer who would throw you in the back and race to the nearest hospital. God, I miss the old days.

  5. Mad Jack,
    MC's job is to use the training and education on what is best for the public, (not just the father involved) to keep the public safe. Researchers have learned, through years of research on Vehicle collisions that driving 102 MPH is quite dangerous. Furthermore, the risks taken while driving that fast outweigh the risks of a first aid (or better) trained police officer delivering a baby on the side of the road with an ambulance on the way. That is just comparing the risks for the family in the car. Tack on the danger posed by the father to all the other drivers and families on the road. MC made a comment about being liable if he escorted the family. In addition to that, when people see a vehicle go code 3 through an intersection, they assume that that is the only vehicle. From what I have been taught, it is dangerous for a second vehicle with lights and sirens on to go through the intersection, let alone a vehicle with out lights and siren.

  6. The fastest i've ever driven ( and naturally i am stating this in hindsight, it was amazingly dangerous especially being that i was only 17 years old at the time), was 155mph.
    In any LEOs opinion here, would that have been justified? as i felt there was no other option and in true fear for my life? The reason for this is in this lengthy story below.
    This was on a highway, at night, in my father's sports car. it was around 11:30pm, no one else was on the road, and my phone was on the back seat. While the driver of an SUV attempted to run me off the road, he stayed on my bumper for 2 miles, honking his horn, flicking his high beams on and off and reving the engine to move closer until he was around maybe a foot off of my bumper. The only thing I did to infuriate this person was pass him on the right side lane as he was doing 55 in a 65, twice. i passed him once and settled in at 75, he floored it past me, cut me off then settled back at 55 again, at which point he tried to pass me again the same way, and i sped up to keep him from passing me. He then slowed off, pulled in behind me and went insane. I proceeded to pull over after about a mile to try to let him by to leave me alone, at which point he pulled over behind me and opened his door, whereupon i floored it, and maxed out to the speed limiter in my desperation to escape the crazy man, i maintained my speed for approximately 3-6 seconds, and then laid off as soon as i approached the nearest curve in the road. I understand that if an officer had seen this, he would have undoubtedly pulled me over and slapped me with an enormous citation or possibly several, as it would be purely my word with no evidence unless he had seen the driver acting in the way i described. But would this be justified at all or considered a reasonable response?

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