Friday, May 25, 2012

Badge Happy Cops

This should be fun, a retired cop writing about a badge happy cop running rough shod over the general citizenry.  Yesterday I was driving around in my little green BMW Z-3 Coupe taking care of business when I got pulled over by a motorcycle officer for an “unknown” reason; my goodness that was an un-Pleasant experience.

We’d both made a left turn, the motorcycle cop in the far left lane while I was a car length behind in the next lane over; one of those two lane option set ups.  The truck in front of me went straight which opened up a clear lane while completing my turn which I gladly accepted, throttling up to fill the void.

Apparently my waving at the motorcycle cop as I pulled up even with him annoyed his sense of fair play; he motioned for me to pull over while putting on his emergency lights.  I rolled my window down as he approached and asked what violation I’d been pulled over for; but doing so violated protocol, cops ask the questions and citizens are to remain quiet.

“I heard your tires; have you ever been written up for reckless driving?”  My odd sense of humor wondered if he must have meant “wreck less” since I hadn’t been involved in an accident. 

“All the time, Officer…”  I should have known better than to answer such a stupid question, a question intended to identify myself as a road hazard.  “Exactly how does accelerating up to 30mph qualify as reckless?”  

He wasn’t impressed with my attitude and had me step out of my hot looking sports car.  I managed to remove my wallet during this exchange of pleasantries; locating my driver’s license, proof of insurance and Houston Police Department identification card which also serves as my concealed handgun permit.

The motorcycle officer switched to a different gear after seeing my retired HPD identification.  “You shouldn’t draw attention to yourself.  You could have lost control, flipped your car and, being a cop, you should know about drawing attention to yourself.” 

I could also have been hit by a flying saucer, fell into a chasm created during a freak earthquake or been overcome by fumes from a volcano spewing ash into the atmosphere; but a reality check being in order, that wasn’t likely accelerating up to 30mph in mid curve as a clear piece of asphalt presented itself. 

Badge happy: a dangerous character disorder associated with some police officers who elevate their importance above law enforcement to a level of superiority in which their personal likes or dislikes rather than the rule of law determine how to select individual citizens for chastisement, ridicule or humiliation.

I guess he didn’t like my spiffy green BMW Z-3 Coupe; washed, polished to the 9’s and worth a speeding ticket even when parked.  There should be a misdemeanor crime, “Failure to turn heads with a sweat ride because you were too lazy to polish the fenders”; but that’s another issue and this motorcycle cop was already in trouble as he hadn’t kept his bike polished, at least that was my observation.

“I’ve never written a ticket to another cop before, but you might be my first.”  He kept babbling about my driving stunt, making a left turn and speeding up to 30mph being a danger to the rest of the world. 

“So what law did I violate, Officer?”  I pressed him to identify my crime.  

“You know…”, having to hesitate since the average citizen wouldn’t test the merits of such a traffic stop, “…most officers would have had sense enough to just say, “Yes, Sir” and be glad they didn’t get a ticket; but here you are jibber jabbering your jaws at me.  That’s the problem today, HPD officers don’t know how to shut up and just say, Yes, Sir, Thank you for not writing me a ticket”.  

The more this motorcycle cop went on the more I had to wonder how he treated the rest of the citizenry.   I finally figured it out, the motorcycle cop was annoyed because someone had dared to drive up along side of him, (changed the wording to keep it civil) annoyed because I had a clear lane to speed up while he’d gotten trapped behind a slow poke; that and waving to him as I pulled up even must have been more than his badge happy character could handle.

He still hadn’t identified any traffic law I’d broken; but I was a menace to society, a regular hot rod junkie hell bent on taking out the north side of town.  “I’d write you a ticket; but don’t have time to call a supervisor.  I’ve never written another cop before; but you could be my first.”

I’d already heard that line a few minutes earlier, “What traffic violation, tell me; I’d like to know?” 

“There ya’ go again”, as he gestured with his hands that I was running my mouth off when I should have been fearful of his all powerful uniform, nodding in gratitude for his magnanimous gesture of not writing me a ticket for violations real or imagined, “…that’s your problem, no respect for uniformed officers; you HPD guys think you own the streets.”  Did I mention he wore a Harris County Sherriff’s Department uniform?

I really did want to deck the jerk, put him in his place; again, I’ve altered my vocabulary for the sake of the general public who might be offended should other common articulations spill over.   I should have reminded the motorcycle cop that I’d never written a formal complaint against a fellow police officer; but I might make an exception for him.  What a self absorbed badge happy bully!

This is one of the earmarks of a police state, uniformed officers who believe they have the state’s permission to arbitrarily bully and impugn the citizenry with a total disregard for the rule of law.  Most folks would sit quietly and hope the moment passed; but is that a wise avenue of action?    

We already have the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA setting up random check stations, unconstitutional violations of the 4th Amendment under the guise of protecting the public from terrorist activities; do we really want traffic cops enforcing their personal interpretations of right or wrong?

Most police officers are just trying to do their job and get home safe to their families; but, there are a few cops driving around looking for petty wars to start, unjustified tickets to write and citizens to aggravate.  Ah, life goes on; not much has changed.  Ya’ll drive friendly, ya’ hear! 

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal, a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.


Mike Landfair said...

Keep standing up to the man, TF.

Right Wing Theocrat said...

So I take it you didn't get a ticket. I had a run in with a cop a while back, but I was in the wrong so I didn't give him any lip over it.

T. F. Stern said...

The funny part is I enjoy driving enough that often times I do forget about speed limits and have been pulled over. On those occasions I've admitted straight up that I was in the wrong and thanked the officer for giving me a free pass. Being a retired night shift cop, I developed some interesting habits, coming to a "near" stop at red lights, as well as green ones just to make sure; that one has saved my butt many times. I offer this as "rationalization"; not an excuse, letter of the law Vs spirit of the law can open a real can of worms.