Friday, March 30, 2012

When Cops Lose Their Minds

I guess if I had to subtitle this and capture a theme I'd say...most things when done in moderation... are acceptable. That includes ticket writing.

For the record, I am a retired cop. I absolutely hate seeing articles like this one. Turning ticket writing into a sport. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/03/30/memo-calls-for-connecticut-state-troopers-to-outperform-colleagues-by-writing/?test=latestnews

A certain amount of traffic enforcement is necessary. Quotas and chicken shit tickets don't qualify. I can honestly tell you that in the quarter century that I pushed a patrol car around- I never made a sport out of writing tickets or generating revenue. I wrote a bunch- most all of them were at least 15 MPH over. Pushing quotas and contests means cops have to dip down to hit numbers. That means a proliferation of chicken shit tickets.

I also started a traffic school. I did that because it was a good idea for people and it helped them avoid points and higher premiums. I did not do it to create a revenue source for government.

Writing tickets to the motoring public subjects citizens to triple jeopardy. First they have to pay large fines. Secondly, the insurance companies latch onto those violations like vultures and jack insurance rates just as high as the market will bear. The third consequence is loss of your driver's privileges.

Ok, I get the responsibility side. But stealing from the public has to have some limits.

The state police in Idaho are notorious for writing chicken shit tickets. They are professionals. I have seen 5 MPH over the limit tickets issued by troopers on a straightaway in the desert where not even a self respecting rabbit crosses the road. People written tickets for crossing the white line on a ramp to get around some semi- chugging down the ramp at 20.

That is the kind of garbage I hate to see. Government loves to call driving a "privilege." I disagree with that conclusion. Driving is no more a privilege than riding a bike or eating out- in fact I hate that whole propaganda "privilege" spiel. Driving in America is huge business. Without cars, we'd have no giant oil companies, no giant steel and auto industry, no auto dealers, auto parts, tire dealers, no auto insurance industry. No jobs.

When I was a kid cop, we were taught to write tickets in the spirit of the law. What happened to that arcane idea?

Are their better ways to force traffic compliance? You bet. By incentivizing drivers rather than punishing them. By giving people huge insurance breaks or other rewards for ticket and accident free driving and not making motorists wait for those rewards until they are 40. Performance based and individualized. Government and insurance companies could do that rather than employing the punishment theme. But clearly, they like skinning motorists. One day a savvy entrepreneur will change all of that with a new kind of insurance company.

Law enforcement really is about serving the public, not punishing them. Compliance was the original goal. Any monkey can write tickets. Even in Connecticut.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Well said. I think that law enforcement agencies that do nothing but stress chicken shit traffic tickets have lost their way, and their soul. You don't have to go all the way to Connecticut to find that. drive about two hours east from you.