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Not Sauce For The Gander

Instapundit points out an article in which a police union says that police officers and their families should be above the law, at least when it comes to traffic infractions, including speeding.

While this is outrageous in itself, it would seemingly put the lie to the notion that the purpose of such laws is for public safety, since it's no "safer" for a police officer's wife to speed than it is for anyone else. It's a tacit admission that it's all about revenue generation, and just as government workers shouldn't necessarily have to pay taxes (since they're paid from taxes), they shouldn't be subject to this revenue de-vice either. Remember this the next time you hear a lecture from a cop about how dangerous it is to exceed the speed limit.

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 04, 2004 01:50 PM
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Ticketless Travel
Excerpt: What's so wrong about this? It's the first aknowledgment I've heard that trained, professional drivers are safer than others. Why not adjust the laws to accomodate the reality? More at blogborygmi.
Weblog: blogborygmi
Tracked: April 4, 2004 05:08 PM
Excerpt: Rand Simberg (via Instapundit) had a post about some cops in NY basically admitting that the traffic laws were more about revenue generation than they are about safety. Of course, that's been an open secret forever. Saturday's Wilmington News-Journal p...
Weblog: Homeschool & Other Education Stuff
Tracked: April 4, 2004 10:56 PM

Rand, the next time cop gives me a lecture on how dangerous it is to speed, I'll be hoping to get off with a simple lecture and no ticket. So I won't be discussing either the policy basis underlying speed limits or the idiocy of the linked article with him.

Posted by Carey Gage at April 4, 2004 02:03 PM

I didn't mean in a pull-over situation, Carey. I just meant in a general situation (e.g., a community meeting, or public-service announcement).

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 4, 2004 02:06 PM

It's nice to see that they are honest about breaking the law like this. Usually police deny this kind of stuff exists. Extending "discretion" to fellow police officers is a form of corruption. What they aren't saying is that they do this with DUI offenses as well. The drunk police officer will get a pass on the violation plus a ride home.

Every time you see a cop roll a stop sign (a.k.a. a "California stop"), turn on his or her red & blue lights just to make it through an intersection on the way back to the cop shop (or the donut shop), or flagrantly speed, they are promoting disrespect for the law.

Of course in the police academy they learn the omnibus excuse for any cop behavior: "I'm a police officer in the performance of my duty".

The law says that officers can only break traffic laws in an emergency.

The next time I get pulled over and don't get off with a warning, I'll go to court and ask the cop, under oath, if he's ever extended professional courtesy to another officer.

Posted by ronnie schreiber at April 4, 2004 02:25 PM

If its just a revenue generating device, well then just sell me a "cop-family" decal so I can drive at the speed I desire. I'd pay a few hundred a year for that.

It reminds me of my father-in-law who used to hire off duty policemen as drivers when he needed to go to NYC from up-state New York. At 100 mph, it was a pretty short trip timewise.

Its hard to maintain respect for police officers and state troopers when you know what the real deal is.

Posted by Fluor at April 4, 2004 02:29 PM

"All animals are equal but some are more equal than others."

Posted by Mike Puckett at April 4, 2004 02:29 PM

A conservative is a liberal who's been mugged.

A libertarian is a conservative who's been arrested.

Posted by at April 4, 2004 02:56 PM

Ronnie said "I'll go to court and ask the cop, under oath, if he's ever extended professional courtesy to another officer."

The cop will just lie and the cop, the judge and the shysters will sneer at you with contempt for your naivete.

Posted by avitw at April 4, 2004 03:00 PM

This is from a Police union. It is completely brazen. All government employee unions are completely brazen. You have lost your country to union rule.

Posted by Lee at April 4, 2004 03:18 PM

If you think that driving at 100 mph is a safe way to proceed, then I understand how upset you are at the idea of getting a traffic ticket for speeding at, say, 45 in a 25 mph zone. And if you think that the traffic code is subordinate only to the Ten Commandments, then all this blather about a band of jerks in some county police union in New York is, too, understandable. If your position is, omigod, some dippy patrolman's wife is getting away with traffic violations, get over it, or else have the police replaced with something else. There are one or two things more important than the traffic code.

Posted by Howard Cornell at April 4, 2004 03:27 PM

A hundred miles per hour can be safe, or insane, depending on driver, road conditions, traffic level, car condition, etc. It seems to be fine on the Autobahn.

But most speed limits are designed for maximum revenue production, not safety, and if the police want to convince us otherwise, then they'll have to stop making stupid statements and policies like this.

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 4, 2004 03:41 PM

Thornton is a suburb north of Denver, Colorado.

Two officers arrested in Adams County
created: 9/16/2003 3:17:58 PM
updated: 9/17/2003 7:59:10 PM

THORNTON – An Adams County sheriff’s deputy arrested two Thornton Police officers early Tuesday morning.

The arresting deputy says he pulled over a civilian car as it left Lil’s Place at 7700 Washington in Adams County around 1:45 a.m. Thornton Police officer Matthew Cabot, 33, was inside the car and had not used a right turn signal.

Cabot failed roadside alcohol tests and he had a gun in the car. Officers are not allowed to carry guns while drunk.

Thornton police officer Sgt. David Boal, also in his personal car, pulled up alongside the deputy and urged him to extend a professional courtesy and not ticket Cabot, because a DUI would be “career ending.”

“That's not tolerated, that's not appropriate. There is no special treatment and there should not be any special treatment for a person just because he or she carries a badge,” Thornton Police Chief Jim Nursery said.

Boal allegedly verbally challenged the deputy and was told several times to back away and wait in his car or he would be arrested for obstruction of an officer.

After not obeying, Boal was arrested on misdemeanor charges of obstruction of an officer.

Cabot was charged with a DUI, as well as other charges, including prohibited use of a handgun.

Boal has been with the department for 12 years, Cabot eight. Until Tuesday, both of their records with Thornton Police were spotless.

Cabot and Boal have been suspended with pay while internal affairs investigates.

Chief Nursery says, depending on the outcome, he will take appropriate action. He did not specify what that would be.

Posted by at April 4, 2004 03:46 PM

I look at the photo of the PBA President Frayler and think to myself, he can't be as dumb as he sounds. I mean, he knows how to dress at least.

I can't at all relate to the world this guy lives in - I guess when you're in an insular organization like a public safety officer's unions, your perception of reality (and of what is wrong and right) becomes extremely warped.

He's probably doesn't hang out with anyone who doesn't think *exactly* as he....

Posted by Chris at April 4, 2004 05:59 PM

Granted, the police union's request is coming under the guise of favoritism, but in a way it's the first time I've heard it acknowledged: professional drivers are safer at higher speeds. I think it's a step in the right direction.

more commentary at my site.

Posted by Nick at April 4, 2004 06:38 PM

Police aren't "professional drivers." Truckers are, race car drivers are, but not police officers. Is there any evidence that police are better trained, or safer drivers, than the general populace?

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 4, 2004 06:48 PM

I should add that, even if police officers were professional drivers, the dispensation is provided to police officers and their families. Sorry, this isn't common sense--it's a pathetic attempt at noblesse oblige.

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 4, 2004 06:50 PM

CHP has special training, I don't know about the many other law enforcement personnel. But so what? Shouldn't I be able to go to special training and get a high-speed license?

Posted by VR at April 4, 2004 07:57 PM

Our muni court makes 3 mil a year on traffic tickets....this does NOT include the five JP courts in the county. Its an ATM for the govt.
The last time I got pulled over, several years ago, the officer asked me if I "knew why I was being stopped"
I asked- my front liscense plate gone? (No) Oh, then it must be my rear liscense plate? (No) My inspection sticker lapsed? (NO). My DL expired? (NO) Registration sticker out of date? (NO). Well then it must be my proof of insurance! (NO) Wasn't buckled up (NO) Had my glasses on? (yes)
Well then officer, I said, I have jumped through a lot of expensive and time-consuming hoops just to get to THIS point, please tell me what further concerns you have?
He closed his ticket book and let me go.

Posted by robert at April 4, 2004 08:10 PM

Rand: I am unaware that an autobahn exists in upstate New York or Suffolk County. Further, we are not talking about "noblesse oblige," or even "pathetic noblesse oblige," the obligation the privileged have to the not privileged. We are arguing about the pathetic police union in New York and police of like attitudes in the rest of the US (world). Chief Nursey (corrected spelling) in Thornton, Colorado, is quite right. He might be in the minority. Drunk driving is more serious than mere speeding, but both offenses account for a high proportion of traffic deaths. Officers should not be given any special treatment, but we're still getting heated up over the traffic code.

Posted by Howard Cornell at April 4, 2004 08:21 PM

ronnie schreiber

"Every time you see a cop roll a stop sign (a.k.a. a "California stop"), turn on his or her red & blue lights just to make it through an intersection on the way back to the cop shop (or the donut shop), or flagrantly speed, they are promoting disrespect for the law."

I'm inclined to give the police a break when they use their lights to bomb through an intersection. Some calls they are responding to require no lights/sirens and thus they only their lights when they need, for their intended purpose .. to clear traffic.

Posted by Brian at April 4, 2004 10:29 PM

Howard, that was fun reading

Posted by Dustin at April 5, 2004 02:00 AM

I know for a fact, cause it happened to me, that state troopers in Texas will speed 15-20 mph over the limit and draw the flow of traffic in behind them. Then they will begin to slow down and get behind someone and pull them over for speeding.

Posted by Hefty at April 5, 2004 04:24 AM

Yes police officers go through special training for driving: vehicle dynamics, skid control, braking control, accident avoidance. Basically what is talked about in most drivers educations courses but they actually get to do some of it. Anybody can sign up with a specialized driving school or race car school to practice the same things, Skip Barber Dodge driving school is a good example. Some detectives will get sent off to other specialized training workshops where they learn how to set spike strips, how to ram cars off the road, and best ways to coodinate road blocks, shoot tires out, etc. Thats why you will see a car chase on the news and several cop cars will be following behind the getaway car for a while, just hanging back. Then, the detective will appear and you will see them zoom out ahead of everything and actually do something to try and stop the getaway car. Alas, I'm quite certain they feel entitled and above everyone else cause of all this 'top notch' training they've received. It sounds like a lot of training but most of it only takes a day or two to go over.

Posted by Hefty at April 5, 2004 04:52 AM

As a lifelong Republican, I am particularly outraged by Ms. Capernter's comments supporting the PBA. If you like, you can email her at

Posted by Chris at April 5, 2004 07:07 AM

Heh, that's nothing. I have a 'friend of a friend' who stopped by my house to get me to come out for a night of weeknight-drinking. I declined. The interesting part is when they took the beers I gave them into the car and drank them on the way to the bar. I asked how they could possibly be so blatant, and the guy looked at me blankly and said 'Dude, you know I'm a cop, right?'

Oh, and he went to the bar packing. On his ankle.

Incidentally, cops are also the scariest people I have ever encountered on a shooting range. I've seen a guy spin his gun on his finger, I've seen people drop a loaded weapon, point a gun at other people in conversation, and look down the barrel to see if they can see the bullet in the chamber. I live in NJ. It took the cops in my town over a year to process my permit application when the statute says 60 days. I went down to complain and they found the form 'stuffed behind a filing cabinet in a box.' These are the people I trust with my life? I don't think so.

Posted by Fox at April 5, 2004 09:56 AM

To Howard Cornell: The injury/death rate is higher at slower speeds (less than 60) than at higher speeds (greater than 80.) Anybody can make an unchallenged statement like you did because we have been indoctrinated with "speed kills." It ain't so! Speed limits, for the most part are revenue sources and have nothing to do with public safety.

Posted by Bob at April 5, 2004 11:22 AM

Thanks, Bob, for reminding me that most driving in this country is done at speeds much less than 80 mph and that higher speeds are reserved for Interstates with controlled access. We don't have to experiment at 30 and 80 mph to make our findings. Nor would I say that "speed kills." I wrote that I high proportion of traffic deaths in this country involve DUI or speeding. A driver might be speeding at 25 mph and is more likely to do so considering how streets are laid out in most towns and cities. And while we're on making unchallenged statements, slip into any of the various highway departments and find out how highways (streets, too) are engineered. No one talks about revenue as it is never considered. Speed limits are influenced (too much, I think) by those living on the or near the route - they want it slower. Political? Yes. Financial? Practically never.

Posted by Howard at April 5, 2004 03:17 PM

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