Hello dear reader(s)!
If you read the above link, you will see an example of how policing can be (and in many places, even cities in the US) is done. These are the good cops that you hear about. That is training, and professionalism, and a desire to truly protect and serve. I still believe, deeply believe that the vast majority of police, even in the US are these types of officers.
My problem continues to be with the departments such as Baltimore where illegal arrests (the knife was legal) and “rough rides” or “nickel rides” are so well-known that they had a term long before Freddie Gray’s death. And now, the supposed good cops are running to defend those murderous thugs who killed him.
And then they wonder why they are hated.
But I’m going to give you a brief synopsis of my favorite police encounter to show how I wish it could always be done.
Mountlake Terrace WA, 2005?
It was a beautiful day. The kind of day that makes birds sing, people smile, and people not want to go to work. I had already put in a bunch of overtime at my job in Bellevue and was all finished with anything I could do for the week other than what I was waiting on someone else to send in so I could get them caught up. But they were not in that day anyway, all the senior executives had gone home, the AP had been P’ed, and it was only about 11 am. I asked my awesome boss if there was any reason I should stick around. She couldn’t find one either, hopefully she went home early too. I literally put in 3 hours that gorgeous, not too hot, not too cold day. So I drive the back way (because 520 has always sucked) through Kirkland/Juanita, Lake City, Lake Forest Park and into Mountlake Terrace where my home was. It was an easy ride home, and by 11:45 or so I was almost home. I was driving up 48th (a residential arterial with a Speed Limit of 30) doing about 35, which was always okay except at one point that I completely forgot about in my desire to get home. That point, was next to candy cane park (not its real name, but the name given due to the stripes on the swing sets) that had a mini-wooded trail and an awesome disc golf course (irrelevant, but I loved that park, so I just thought I’d throw that in) about 4 blocks from my street. You come down a slight hill to the park at the bottom where the speed limit drops to 20 (maybe even 15). I’m still cruising along at 35 and I see the cop cars on the side of the road and one of them is standing outside in front of one of them and basically waves me over in front.
“Crap, I screwed up. Damn I really can’t afford a ticket right now!” I thought to myself, and maybe even said out loud.
The officer approached the window. I had my hands on the top of the steering wheel as I’ve been taught to do, and turned the radio down before he got there. Hard to talk to anyone when you’re blasting Rise Against.
“Do you know why I waved you over?” the officer asked politely.
Now, I know you’re not supposed to admit guilt blah, blah, blah, but honestly, I was guilty. I totally forgot about the park. I felt genuinely bad about it. This wasn’t 5 over in a normal area. “I bet I was speeding, wasn’t I?” I asked.
“Do you know how fast you were going?” he asked in return.
“Honestly, no, I would say close to the previous speed limit before the reduction. I totally forgot about it,” I said,
“Okay,” the officer said, somewhat surprised, “Where are you headed?”
“Home,” I started, “I live about 4 blocks up. I knew better,” I said, hands still on top of the steering wheel but wanting to slap my self in the forehead.
He chuckled a bit, “Okay, license, registration, and proof of insurance.”
“Okay I’m reaching to get my wallet where my license is, and then I’m going to get into the glove box for the other two,” I told him.
He laughed openly this time. “Thanks for letting me know,” he said trying to stifle his laughter.
He was back at the car for about 5 minutes, likely running my info. through the computer and preparing the ticket. Yes, I did get a ticket. My hands stay on top of the wheel the entire time, and I am relatively calm, except beating myself up inside for my stupidity.
He comes back to the car and apologized, “Okay, I am so sorry to do this, but I have to write you a ticket.”
“Yeah, I know,” I said.
“It’s just, with this beautiful day and the kids out, we’re doing a special enforcement so I can’t just let you off with a warning,” he continued to apologize.
“You don’t need to apologize,” I began, “You’re right, the kids are out, I live right here, I just should have known better.”
“And normally, I’d let you off with a warning, but we’re really enforcing this area right now because of the safety, I wish that hill wasn’t there,” he started again.
Suddenly I’m having to console him. “It’s okay, officer, you have a job to do. You need to enforce the law and that’s what you are doing,” I stated. “I was going too fast, on this day, with the kids at the park, I totally understand.”
“Thank you, for being so reasonable about this,” he told me, “You know, if you want to go in the court you might still have to pay the fine but you could likely get your points taken off because of that hill and I wouldn’t try to stop that.”
“How many points is it?” I asked.
“Well, I only wrote you for 5 over, so I think it will be 3,” he informed me.
“Nah, I’ll just pay it. You saw my history, I’m not worried about 3 little points, you have a good day,” I said as I signed the ticket and received my copy.
“You too, sir, stay safe!” He said and walked back to his spot in front of his cruiser.
I often wonder about that officer, if he is still with the police force, and still has the same courtesy and professionalism that he did with me. If so, he is a credit to police everywhere. I hope he still cares and I hope he sees how some of his fellow officers are treating people and tried to do something about it. The ticket was like $85 and I had almost 2 months to pay it. Not a huge deal. I just worked a bit more hours to cover it.
In my next post, I’ll tell you of a much different police interaction.