So, you just going to sit there?!?

Short answer? You’re damn right.

Now for the longer answer. Not too long ago, we had what I personally consider Manna from Heaven. Allow me to explain…
You know that feeling Christmas morning when you just know it’s gonna be a great day full of promise and excitement? Well, when there are signals out or flashing red, I get giddy. That is not poetic license. I may actually utter a “tee” or a “hee” or possibly some combination thereof when I hear that traffic over the radio. Most beat cops couldn’t care less. Me? I feel like I’ve been handed a Louisville Slugger as the salmon are spawning upstream.
At any rate, recently, there was a power failure and we had multiple intersections out. The “tee” and the “hee” having been uttered, I find my way to one of the intersections. At first, I was shocked to see that most folks were abiding by the law. What law, you say? Good for you…
CVC 21800 (d)(1) states, “The driver of any vehicle approaching an intersection which has official traffic control signals that are inoperative shall stop at the intersection, and may proceed with caution when it is safe to do so.”
What does that mean exactly? It means that you treat the intersection like a stop sign. Pretty basic, really. At any rate, my shock aside about everyone following the law, a car slowed near me and a veritable angel said, “Excuse me…the intersection west of here is out as well. Hardly anyone is stopping!”
I thanked the good Lord for sending such an emissary my way and headed west. It couldn’t have been better. I had an unobstructed view and a shady spot in which to sit. All it was missing was palm fronds wafting in the breeze.
But that’s where paradise ends. I saw a little two seater shoot through the intersection like it wasn’t even there. I stopped the car, dismounted, walked up and said, “Howdy” and was met with what follows:
IAG (Inappropriately Aghast Guy): So, you just going to sit there at a light that’s out and write me a ticket?!?
MC: I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t realize it was my fault that you didn’t stop at the intersection. I’ll be right back.
And I was…right back. The whole stop, from beginning to end, was less than three minutes.
MC: Okay, sir, I need you to sign the highlighted yellow portion at the bottom, please.
IAG: I can’t believe this. Why don’t you guys direct some traffic instead of writing hard working Americans tickets?
MC: Actually, sir, there are so many intersections out, we don’t have the manpower to direct traffic at all of them. As a matter of fact, it’s against our policy to do that very thing for a variety of reasons, including what I just explained to you. (And I really wanted to add…”Hard working American? Um…aren’t I the one at work right now? Huh.” Alas, I did not.)
IAG: What about all the people speeding in front of the high school?
MC: Ah, classic blameshifting, sir. Well played and good luck.
IAG: Classic what?
I went from the stop to the PD anticipating a complaint. I played the stop for my supervisor. Not five minutes later, IAG showed up to complain about my “conduct”. If you can believe it, he changed his tune quite a bit after my supervisor explained not only the exact same thing I explained to IAG on the stop, but also my supervisor told IAG he had heard the stop as I record every stop I conduct.
No more complaint. I love my digital recorder. That little piece of technology has saved me from countless, frivolous, bullshit complaints. It’s not policy that we use it and you other LEOs might not be required either….but let me encourage you to use one. They are priceless!
For you non-LEOs out there, use this as a learning tool. Remember when the lights flash red or are completely inoperative, treat the intersection like a four-way stop!

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

14 thoughts on “So, you just going to sit there?!?

  1. "So, you're just going to sit there?" Let's run the tape back…"ereht tis ot gniog tsuj er'uoy ,os"… and here it is again going forward:"so you're just going to sit there?"

    I just wish I could have been there to see IAG's face when he learned of the audio tape…

    Keep up the great work, great writing, and stay safe.
    (You're now my official favorite "Bacon Bit author")

  2. Hey MC ~ Can you give us the 411 on your recorder? It would be a "fun" [ahem] thing to surprise my officer with. thanks. 🙂

  3. So many cops don't record- its so foolish. I know that they are thinking about "that one time I fucked up and would have been fired if I was being recorded," but I truly believe that it will save your hiney more often than it will ream it.
    Trust me on this- cops that record spend far less time in IA and court than those that don't. It strangles more complaints and silly defenses in the crib than you can imagine.
    I can't help but think that cops that are recording themselves are a a hell of a lot more careful, too.
    Its a win-win.

  4. A hard-working American who took time from his busy schedule to do his civic duty – gotta keep the po-po honest! Maybe if you didn't have to spend your time playing CYA, you could be out catching "real criminals," like the speeders in front of the high school!

  5. I wish you would come to my town. I was stopped yesterday at a red light, and after it turned green, I had to wait for THREE cars who were still turning left in front of me. I can understand pushing a yellow light, but if you're in front of me when my light is green, you ran a red light. It's not a difficult concept.

  6. I just bought a little digital recorder to put on my belt. I get to use it for the first time tonight. I am hoping it is not still raining. Doing traffic stops in the rain is not my favorite activity.

  7. AUUUUGH! I hate people who don't understand how to behave at a non-functioning traffic signal! Think of it as a N-way stop! Everyone takes turns! It's not rocket science!

    The one that drives me crazy here in SE Michigan is the turn lanes. Here there are left "u-turn" lanes for when you wanted to turn left at an intersection. [I'm badly explaining this. It's not a right-sided jug-handle, but everyone who wants to turn at a specific intersection will turn right, then those who wanted to go left get in the left lane to use a left/U-turn lane.]

    The lanes are wide enough for large trucks to use [because this generally only happens on major non-highway roads], but idjits around here think that means they are TWO lanes. They are NOT! and there aren't enough cops around to be able to properly enforce this.

    I was complaining online about this, unfortunately to locals, who all bashed me for "refusing" to let it be 2 lanes. "Just stay to the left or right side and then turn into the left or right lane!" Pointing out that the state law is "When turning from a one way street to another one-way street turn into the leftmost lane and stay there until you can safely move right" was useless. I was told that if I just let people do things their way that traffic would "move better."

    About once a week I nearly get plowed into by some idjit who snuck up next to me as I'm about to turn. Then they lay on the horn and give me the finger. One of these days I'm going to let them plow into me just so I can hear them explain to the cops just why they thought they had the right to be to the left of me in a single lane turn-lane.

    Yeah, that's kinda confusing to read. People are idjits.

  8. Our department just issued the PumaII digital recorders to all us motors. I absolutely love mine!!! Not just good for the CYA factor in regards to complaints, but sometimes you capture the most amazing, stupid, HUA comments and excuses!!!
    Stay safe…

  9. Handuffed Heart…I use an Olympus digital recorder. I also have a case to carry it in.

    FlyTrap…try wearing it on your uniform shirt epaulet. It may be closer to your mouth and easier to understand you. But it'll require the aforementioned case.

    Moose…I had forgotten the inherent magic in the word "idjit". Thank you for the reminder!

    Michael…enjoy the new toy! I've had to bring mine home to the Wife to prove some of the stuff I post about wasn't complete bullshit. It has provided hours of entertainment!

  10. "Ah, classic blameshifting, sir. Well played and good luck."

    I'm going to have to use this line next time, thanks.

  11. I'm in Washington, which is a dual consent state – aka, if I'm going to record a private conversation, all parties have to be aware that it's being recorded and be okay with it. How does that work for police officers? Are they exempt from that requirement, or are interactions between a police officer and a civilian not considered private?

    (I think it's a dumb law, but then I've also been on the receiving end of sexual harassment. Recordings are good protection for other situations too, I really wish a hidden recorder weren't illegal here.)

  12. This reminds me of a particular supervisor of mine who likes to call me out on the radio when he gets a call about my "overzealous" enforcement of 22101(d)vc. The conversation usually goes something along these lines…

    Sgt: Sam 2 to Mary 3
    Me: Go ahead
    Sgt: For info, I just took a call from a concerned citizen who says you're being a little too productive at Fourth and Main. Keep up the good work.

    When these tickets go to court, as the vast majority do, they usually play the "you should have been directing traffic" or the "why didn't you put down flares or stop signs?" angle.

    The commissioner loves it when I reply that it's their responsibility as a driver to notice that the lights are out. It's not my responsibility to sit there and point it out to you.

    Alas, most of our signals are owned and maintained by the state, and are very reliable (and equipped with a battery back-up).

    If the state budget keeps going downhill though…

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