You thought this was a good idea?

Here’s something interesting about Law Enforcement. People feel either motivated or otherwise oddly moved to talk to us while we’re obviously otherwise occupied. They seldom say, “Excuse me” or anything along those lines. They just walk up and start yapping. I don’t think I’ll ever understand the phenomenon.

I don’t walk into your office where you push your papers and crunch your numbers and start talking to you while you’re with a client. What makes you think you should just come up to me and offer your (often unqualified) opinion? Case in point…
This past week, I stopped a lady for gridlock. Basically, that means she entered the intersection without the ability to completely traverse the intersection. This resulted in her green light cycling to red and now the other direction can’t enter the intersection at all because she’s blocking. When I contacted her, she had a good attitude and I told her I was going to give her a warning. I had just launched into a little educational explanation of what she did wrong when this happened:
MC: When you enter an intersection, you have to be able to go all the way across…
NAUD (Nosey Ass Univolved Driver) off to my right: She doesn’t deserve a ticket!
MC (turns to look…dons appropriate “are you fucking kidding me right now” look): Excuse me?
NAUD: It wasn’t her fault. She couldn’t make it through the intersection. I’m a witness. (looks at driver) I can write you a letter if you need one.
MC: Thanks ever so much for your opinion, sir. As it happens, however, she did indeed commit a violation and I was just in the midst of explaining what she did to her. I also already told her she would be receiving a warning. You can go ahead and leave now, sir.
Now, this may not seem like a big, hairy deal to most of you, but I assure you it’s a pet peeve shared by a number of LEOs. First of all, just walking up to an officer in the midst of a traffic stop is neither smart nor safe. For all I know, you could be some lunatic related to the driver I’ve just stopped. Maybe you swore when you got out of prison, you’d never go back and have extended that weird proclamation to family members as well. Sound paranoid? Probably, but check it out, so far I’ve gone home every day to kiss the Wife and Kids. If you think that’s a weird perspective, do me a favor, stay the fuck out of law enforcement. You’d probably either end up dead or, worse, you could get me killed. A healthy suspicion of people is life affirming in my line of work.
Secondly, I don’t care about your opinion regarding my traffic stop. So if you feel motivated to make an issue of it and take it too far (which is in my estimation, not yours, by the way), you are running the risk of impeding me in my duties and that could land you in jail.
Lastly, if you’re all butt hurt about what you saw and you just can’t stop yourself from letting it go, why don’t you just do what I’m sure your mom tried to instill in you (and failed apparently) and say, “Excuse me, officer, when you’re done may I have a word?” I’d be more than happy to agree and perhaps we could have a civil discussion about what you think you saw and the law.

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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6 thoughts on “You thought this was a good idea?

  1. I am honestly shocked to hear that people do that sort of thing. "Stupid and unsafe" doesn't begin to cover it; your safety aside (though that is no small affair), I'd be far more worried about my safety, fearing violence from the perpetrator and possible (and entirely justified) citation or even arrest from the officer involved.

    I do have to ask though, what's your opinion of incidents where police go out of their way to interfere with photographers?

    I'm seeing reports of officers demanding that cameras be turned off and images deleted, confiscating cameras or memory cards, or even arresting photographers. I'm not talking about protesters filming each other as they engage in riot, I'm talking about folks photographing public buildings, photographing police action from across the street, or even posting video or photos to the web after the fact when it went unnoticed during the incident in question.

    In short, police have a well-established power to photograph and video their interactions with citizens, but increasingly seem to feel that there is no reciprocal right. Where do you stand on that?

  2. That would be a very frustrating as well as extremely rude and extremely stupid. Some people are just a waste of oxygen. Well done on remaining cool, calm and collected although I’m sure it is probably just as well that idiot features couldn’t read minds.
    As far as your personal safety goes there's nothing wrong with a bit of paranoia. After all it’s only an extension of the Boy Scout Motto. I hope the rest of your working week is idiot free.

  3. I have to congratulate you on a stop for blocking the intersection. It happens all the time around here, and I often wonder is the locals even know about that rule. Of course, I live in BFE.