How to “Behave” at a Traffic Stop

Written by Gregory Monte.

This post was published under a different title yesterday (in order to get Facebook approval).

Has police/citizen interaction gotten so bad that law makers have to provide recommendations for how we are supposed to act when the cops pull us over?

In Tennessee, apparently so: Tennessee bill would instruct motorists on what to do during a traffic stop

Senate Bill 1554 attempts to set up a commission to …

“… study and make recommendations on how vehicle drivers and passengers should behave when stopped by a police officer.”

Topics under consideration include:

  • How a driver or passenger should address a police officer
  • How a driver or passenger should use their hands, including whether or not a driver or passenger should reach for anything prior to being told to do so by a police officer
  • Safe places to pull over a vehicle.

Not so long ago a police officer’s job was simply to protect and serve the local community.  Now (with so many cops running traffic duty), all too often, most citizens only encounter the cops when they get a ticket.  This is often a negative experience, and it turns many of us into cynics when it comes to law enforcement in general.  It doesn’t help if during that encounter the cop is arrogant rather than polite.

Focus on the Cops, Not on the Citizens

Here is a better idea – pass more laws to restrict what the COPS can do during a simple traffic stop.  And while you are at it, educate them as to why citizens rightly get pissed off when they get pulled over for silly infractions of the law. 

I submit the following for consideration as topics for the cops to discuss during their mandatory education.  It is written with stop sign tickets in mind, but feel free to fill in speeding or any other traffic law violation because the sentiment pretty much applies universally …

  • Stop sign tickets are arbitrary.  Thousands of people go through stop signs every day without making a complete stop, but you were one of the ones to get caught.  Lucky you!
  • You did come to a complete stop, but the judge won’t believe you no matter what you say – it’s the officer’s word against yours.  That sucks – but such is life.
  • Or let’s say you actually did “roll through” the stop sign, but there was no one else on the road.  Because you didn’t endanger anyone, what is the big deal?  Let me answer that for you – there is none.
  • Off-duty police officers go through stop signs also, but all they have to do is show their ID and fellow officers will let them slide.  Yeah, that sounds fair.
  • On-duty police officers also fail to obey traffic laws when they are in a hurry.  I have seen them go through red lights, fail to signal when turning, roll through stop signs, etc.   Who is going to issue a ticket in this instance? Rhetorical question, of course.
  • Friends of police officers get PBA cards which allow them a free pass on tickets. That shit should be illegal if you ask me.
  • The police are not issuing citations out of a sense of safety.  Let’s get real, tickets are used as “revenue” generators for the local government.  I put the word “revenue” in quotes, because I find it strange that the government calls money obtained by force “revenue.” Businesses, on the other hand, convince you to purchase products voluntarily, so I can understand why they use the word “revenue.”
  • Tickets are nothing more than a tax imposed on those in society who are least able to afford it.  Do you think the top 1% care about a measly (to them, at least) $150 stop sign ticket or points?  Of course not.  First of all, they can afford to pay a lawyer if they choose to do so, and secondly, its pocket change for them anyway.
  • It’s all a big game to the local prosecutor or police officer – and the local court is a party to it all.  What kind of game?  Have you ever watched Let’s Make a Deal?  Well, that is what 99% of the individuals who show up at court eventually do.  After pleading not guilty to the citation, they don’t show up in court to try to prove their innocence.  Instead they “make a deal” with the prosecutor or police officer and end up paying more money in fines, but get the points taken away. 

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