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Couple Who Catch Cop Speeding Could Face Charges 876

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the turnabout-isn't-fair-play dept.
a_nonamiss writes "A Georgia couple, apparently tired of people speeding past their house, installed a camera and radar gun on their property. After it was installed, they caught a police office going 17MPH over the posted limit. They brought this to the attention of the local police department, and are now being forced to appear in front of a judge to answer to charges of stalking."
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Couple Who Catch Cop Speeding Could Face Charges

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  • by Jhon (241832) * on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:15PM (#18071388) Homepage Journal
    Read all about it here [daily-tribune.com]

    Interesting story.
  • by WebHostingGuy (825421) * on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:17PM (#18071422) Homepage Journal
    If you view the Georgia Stalking Law [wiredsafety.org] you can see that:

    A person commits the offense of stalking when he or she follows, places under surveillance, or contacts another person at or about a place or places without the consent of the other person for the purpose of harassing and intimidating the other person.

    The key phrase here is "for the purpose of harassing and intimidating". The statute goes on to define this:

    "For the purposes of this article, the term "harassing and intimidating" means a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes emotional distress by placing such person in reasonable fear for such person's safety or the safety of a member of his or her immediate family, by establishing a pattern of harassing and intimidating behavior, and which serves no legitimate purpose."

    In order to convict the people in this case the state of Georgia would have to prove they were causing the officer emotional distress and "establish a pattern" of behavior. From what is shown the office got caught once, and that does not constitute a pattern, therefore there is no harassment and no stalking. (There are also several other problems if you apply the facts to the law such as the emotional distress--is the officer suffering from depression because he got caught speeding? And you have the defense of legitimate purpose; the couple could easily argue there is a legitimate purpose).

    This is just a case of the police force trying to intimidate someone who caught an officer doing something maybe they should not have been doing. The problem is that when this hits big in the media it is going to be a larger embarrassment than if the police department just told the people the truth or lied and said it was official business.

  • by silentounce (1004459) on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:26PM (#18071520) Homepage
    If you read the article linked to above it is mentioned that they repeatedly emailed him and in fact purchased over a $1000 worth of equipment for the express purpose of catching him in the act. That sounds like harassment to me. I'm not saying that he is right and that they are wrong. I merely providing information here. Don't shoot the messenger.
  • by Nutty_Irishman (729030) on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:27PM (#18071536)
    Nice find.

    For those that are too lazy to read either article, it seems that they were also emailing the officer in question about his speeding and he wanted some kind of court order to prevent them from continuing to email them. Neither article clearly specifies what exactly the "stalking" was referring to: the actual recording of the speeding event, or the constant emails he received from them (or perhaps both).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:44PM (#18071812)
    BARTOW COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
    135 W Cherokee Ave
    Suite 368
    Cartersville, Georgia 30120
    Phone (770) 387-5080
    Fax (770) 387-5085

    Office Hours: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

    T. Joseph Campbell, District Attorney

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:47PM (#18071866)

    http://www.daily-tribune.com/NF/omf/daily_tribune/ news_story.html?rkey=0041564+cr= [daily-tribune.com]

    The police officer has withdrawn the complaint.
  • RTFA. (Score:3, Informative)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:54PM (#18072004)

    In order to convict the people in this case the state of Georgia would have to prove they were causing the officer emotional distress and "establish a pattern" of behavior. From what is shown the office got caught once, and that does not constitute a pattern, therefore there is no harassment and no stalking.

    You should have spent less time on your post, and more time reading the article(s). They repeatedly emailed him about the matter, and he felt it was harassment. We haven't seen the emails, now have we?

    The second article says he wanted to meet with the couple to ask them to stop emailing him. They refused, and when it came down to decision time, he asked the judge to drop the request for an arrest warrant.

    I'm pretty tired of speeding being too high a priority in this nation; there's only indirect links between speeding and collisions/injuries/deaths, but it is a mountain made out of a molehill because insurance companies and "public safety officials" want us to believe that speed is the only, or primary, factor in crashes.

    That said- this couple were treading on the fine line of harassment AND the cop took the "high road", backing down. Much of the whiny comments posted under this story are unjustified.

  • by GreyPoopon (411036) <gpoopon@MONETgmail.com minus painter> on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:56PM (#18072040)

    When she swerves in hit her. follow up with a lawsuit and press charges of reckless driving.

    Bad idea. The dashcam will effectively implicate both drivers. It'll be obvious from the video that not only was one car blocking the road, but that the other had sufficient time to stop, and both drivers will be charged with a traffic violation. Probably better to find a friend on the police force to periodically check out the area where she does this, particularly during times when she's likely to be driving down the road. Once caught, I'm sure she won't repeat the action.
  • by nigelo (30096) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:00PM (#18072114)
    Isn't going 30mph in a 25mph considered 'exceeding the speed limit' where you live?
  • by Hijacked Public (999535) * on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:08PM (#18072252)
    But they are moving against your step 1 as we type. [govtrack.us]


    In order to protect law enforcement, certainly.

    Like when the original restrictions were allowed to sunset and we were assured by Millions of Moms that we'd be awash in ruthless killing machines [bradycampaign.org]. We have to do something to protect our kind hearted, well intentioned, peace loving peace officers, whether from violence thirsty lunatics with sandbagged machine gun nests or from speed gun toting stalker weirdo suburbanite couples. These people, hell bent on their vigilante campaigns against docile doe eyed public servants, have to be stopped.

  • by sootman (158191) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:16PM (#18072418) Homepage Journal
    I don't throw out Latin phrases to sound smart. The point is to show that the question is an important one which has been asked and discussed for ages. This particular quote ("Who will watch the watchers?") goes back almost two thousand years. [wikipedia.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:18PM (#18072462)
    This varies by state. Iowa explicitly allows
            1) speeding if the siren & lights are on. (It also specifies WHERE the lights have to be, and interestingly the newer police cars where the lights try to "blend in" to the car DO NOT have lights in the required locations.. hmm...)

            2) Matching a speeders speed to determine how fast they are going, in lieu or in addition to a radar reading.

              The speeding to catch up to suspected speeders, and miscellaneous other speeding is all speeding unless the flashers are on though.

              I like the situtation in Pennsylvania -- someone who got a speeding ticket argued it's illegal to park in the ditch (as the police running speed traps tend to do), and successfully got his ticket invalidated. So now the police there running speed traps have to sit with the gumballs going 8-). Driving through I still saw them catch plenty of speeders.. and honestly, if a speeder is so oblivious as to blow buy a police car WITH flashers running, well, they probably aren't paying attention to the road and deserve a ticket 8-).
  • by Brickwall (985910) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:22PM (#18072540)
    It's not a question of it being the police. Anyone who is given coercive power over another individual turns brutish in a remarkably short period of time. There are many psych experiments where the students are divided into "prisoners" and "guards". Almost inevitably, the guards begin displaying cruel behaviour towards the prisoners. Some of the "guards" are shocked at their own behaviour when shown it on videotape.

  • by abscissa (136568) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:29PM (#18072688)

    Cops are people.
    There are good people and there are bad people.
    Therefore, there are good cops and bad cops.


    Nonsense argument.

    Cats are animals.
    There are furry animals and there are scaly reptilian animals.
    Therefore, there are furry cats and scaly reptilian cats.
  • Re:Moo (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tanktalus (794810) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:45PM (#18072926) Journal
    Of course, it's now completely moot [daily-tribune.com]...
  • by pseudosero (1037784) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:46PM (#18072944) Journal
    Never pass a cop.
  • by KingSkippus (799657) * on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:57PM (#18073124) Homepage Journal

    I'm sure it's legal to do that.

    No, it's most emphatically not, at least in Georgia, and in most states as well.

    Here's the code [ganet.org] (your state may vary, but most states are very similar):

    40-6-40.b: Upon all roadways, any vehicle proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.

    Note the reference to the "normal speed of traffic," not "the speed limit." Also, more specifically to these idiots who decide to be do-gooders and prevent people from passing them:

    40-6-40.d: No two vehicles shall impede the normal flow of traffic by traveling side by side at the same time while in adjacent lanes, provided that this Code section shall not be construed to prevent vehicles traveling side by side in adjacent lanes because of congested traffic conditions.

    So if you (and by "you," I'm talking to the reader of this post, not the parent, who I think agrees with me) deliberately travel in a passing lane to impede traffic, you're breaking the law just as badly as anyone who might be speeding. (At least in Georgia; and as I said, most states have very similar laws.) So if you do it, stop being an idiot and doing something just as bad and dangerous as the people you're trying to stop.

  • Drop it. (Score:5, Informative)

    by mingot (665080) on Monday February 19, 2007 @06:28PM (#18073692)
    The cop did.

    cop drops complaint [daily-tribune.com]
  • Re:Moo (Score:4, Informative)

    by rouge86 (608370) on Monday February 19, 2007 @06:42PM (#18073944)
    Here try this link [proboards28.com]. It gives a little more information on the story as well as some of information on stalking laws.
  • Re:Moo (Score:4, Informative)

    by Fordiman (689627) <fordiman@gmailGI ... minus herbivore> on Monday February 19, 2007 @06:48PM (#18074034) Homepage Journal
    Ah, the couple didn't have a radar gun. They had cameras. And, given a known distance between two points on the camera, you can accurately judge the speed of any object passing between those two points at ground level, ie: a car, using simple math.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:09PM (#18074346)
    I believe the point (or should be), that your friend may have to put up with a lot, and have stressful days, but does that entitle him to intentionally break laws that are in place to protect the motorists and pedestrians from harm, and to reduce the harm inflicted when there is an accident?

    The mere fact that he has pointed out to you that there is no repercussion for speeding from his fellow officers should be an indication that he believes he is above the law. Maybe not all laws, but at least the ones pertaining to motor vehicle speed limits, etc. And maybe that's how it all starts - with the "inconvenient" laws being disregarded because they don't apply to him or his coworkers. Maybe not - Maybe your friend is so pure that he won't assume to be more and more above the law. Then again, if he were so pure, he wouldn't breaking these laws, would he? ;-)

    Also, you say that on a daily basis he deals with bad people that in turn call him a bad person, and he has seen in the past many atrocious things, but there are many other people in the world that see just as many terrible things (soldiers, nurses, medical doctors, firefighters, etc) - does that entitle them to speed when they're off duty, or even worse? I don't think so, and most normal people wouldn't think they are exempt either.

    If nothing else, police officers should be even more responsible for their actions, since they are supposed to be setting an example for everyone else, whether on or off duty. And if they do slip up (and everyone does!), they should own up to the fact that while off duty, in a non-emergency situation, they are just like everyone else, and responsible for their actions.

    Maybe you should re-evaluate your friend and his motivations. Maybe you could approach him and point out to him that although he can avoid speeding tickets, if he ever gets in to an accident, and hurts anyone, or worse, kills someone while speeding, he is not going to get a "walk" for it.

  • Re:Desert island (Score:4, Informative)

    by exi1ed0ne (647852) <exile@@@pessimists...net> on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:17PM (#18074476) Homepage
    Actually according to the UN, every square foot of the earth that exists permanently 1 foot above sea level is claimed by some government somewhere. Unless you want to build up an atoll and make your own island, or do something like Sealand, you're screwed.
  • By "many," I believe you probably mean "one." The one in particular was the Stanford Prison Experiment [wikipedia.org], run by Philip Zimbardo back in 1971. It proved your point, but had such a profound negative impact on the participants that it had to be terminated early, and ethical considerations would prevent it from being repeated.
  • by Gyga (873992) on Monday February 19, 2007 @08:01PM (#18075082)
    Chances are it is legal where you are. Only a few states require all parties to consent. Most only require one party (the reciever) The following states require only ONE person to be aware of it being taped. That can be the person recieving the call. Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas Colorado Delaware District of Columbia Georgia Hawaii Idaho Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Nebraska Nevada New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolinas North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Virginia West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming The follow require all parties to consent. California Connecticut Florida Illinois Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Montana ("the law does not apply to public officials or employees speaking in the course of their duties, to anyone speaking at a public meeting, or to anyone who has been warned of the recording." I think cops are public officals.) New Hampshire (A misdemeanor if you have only one, felony if you have none) Pennsylvania ("consent is not required for the taping of a non-electronic communication uttered by a person who does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in that communication.") Washington Other Vermont "There is no legislation specifically addressing interception of communications in Vermont, but the state's highest court has held that surreptitious electronic monitoring of communications in a person's home is an unlawful invasion of privacy. Vermont v. Geraw, 795 A.2d 1219 (Vt. 2002); Vermont v. Blow, 602 A.2d 552 (Vt. 1991). The state's highest court, however, also has refused to find the overhearing of a conversation in a parking lot unlawful because that conversation was "subject to the eyes and ears of passersby." Vermont v. Brooks, 601 A.2d 963 (Vt. 1991)." from http://www.rcfp.org/taping/ [rcfp.org]
  • by Gyga (873992) on Monday February 19, 2007 @08:06PM (#18075142)
    Note to self: hit preview to perserve lists. Here it slightly easier to read. Sorry about that.

    The following states require only ONE person to be aware of it being taped. That can be the person recieving the call. Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolinas, North Dakota, Ohio ,Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

    The follow require all parties to consent. California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts,
    Michigan Montana ("the law does not apply to public officials or employees speaking in the course of their duties, to anyone speaking at a public meeting, or to anyone who has been warned of the recording." I think cops are public officals.)
    New Hampshire (A misdemeanor if you have only one, felony if you have none) Pennsylvania ("consent is not required for the taping of a non-electronic communication uttered by a person who does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in that communication.")
    Washington

    Other Vermont "There is no legislation specifically addressing interception of communications in Vermont, but the state's highest court has held that surreptitious electronic monitoring of communications in a person's home is an unlawful invasion of privacy. Vermont v. Geraw, 795 A.2d 1219 (Vt. 2002); Vermont v. Blow, 602 A.2d 552 (Vt. 1991). The state's highest court, however, also has refused to find the overhearing of a conversation in a parking lot unlawful because that conversation was "subject to the eyes and ears of passersby." Vermont v. Brooks, 601 A.2d 963 (Vt. 1991)."

    from http://www.rcfp.org/taping/ [rcfp.org]
  • by Mr.Dork (1066190) on Monday February 19, 2007 @09:09PM (#18075784)
    I was beaten up by a "Peace Officer",a Policeman,hired to "protect and serve",, for doing 40mph in a 35mph for about a half a block.the last stretch to the Pharmacy before they closed.In a hurry to get my Wifes Medicine,my Wife,then recovering from Heart Surgery almost Two Weeks earlier. As Weird Al would say,"I'm White & Nerdy", I'm totally non-threatening,except at Tekken. Further more,I know how to behave when pulled over by the Cops,I was young once. Yet i was yanked out of my car by my Throat and slammed against my Car.When the Officer was violently frisking me,he "accidentally"hit me with his Flashlight on the side of my head,when i said ouch he hit me in the private area,from under neath with his flashlight.I didn't dare give him any more excuse to mistreat me. When it was all said and done he gave me a ticket full of Lies,Exaggerations,and just plain Mistakes. So I turned him in,and when I told the Sargent in charge of him,that I didn't want the young man to get into serious trouble,I would just like an Apology.The Sargent nearly kicked my ass right there in the Police Station Lobby.He started yelling and screaming,trying to get his Hands on me,as I walked backwards away from him towards the door.Even after I was outside he was still yelling and intimidating me.I feared for my life.
  • by jpellino (202698) on Monday February 19, 2007 @09:51PM (#18076166)
    Check out how bad the CT State police got the past few years. Assault, battery, sexual assault, fraud, murder, larceny, DUI. And not just the isloated anecdotal case involving someone with an axe to grind. 4 DUIs and one guy's still on the force. They've beaten their girlfriends, and two murder+suicides by CSP, one killed his civilian wife, the other his local PD girlfriend. And no one saw it coming or stepped into admittedly bizarre behavior. They had to call in the IAD department of the New York State Police to untangle this one. The current explanation seems to be that there are 99 ways the CSP can get in trouble, and that's too confusing, they n eed it down to 21. I am not making this up. And the higher-ups looked at each incident and did nothing to stop or prosecute these. Go back two decades til you find the part where one of the finest lawyers (yes, I'm serious) to ever practice law was in charge of straightening out the CSP as the Chief State's Attorney, and they made him go away in a very public and very ugly fashion.
  • by foreverdisillusioned (763799) on Monday February 19, 2007 @11:26PM (#18076996) Journal
    The police are in the business of putting criminals in jail, not inacting their own brand of physical justice. I'm not saying that every single combative action needs to be carefully mulled over--I'm just saying that when a woman is CLEARLY hurt and bleeding badly and in no state to hurt or threaten to hurt anyone, you do NOT need to go over and hurt her some more. You put her in jail--you let the justice system do what it's supposed to do. In the heat of the moment, sure, a cop can strike back, but by the time my friend realized she'd been hit the woman was already on the ground and out of reach. She would have had to gone outside of the building or thrown something at her or seomthing.

    Similarly, that guy who was tazered and pepper sprayed for refusing to present his ID card in a college library was just being an asshole. There's no reason to tazer an asshole, and it was downright abusive (if not criminal) for them to do so. They're menat to ARREST law-breaking assholes. If they don't want to move, carry them. If they violently throw off your grip, THEN you spray and taze 'em. If they throw a punch, beat 'em until they go down (but not AFTER they go down.) If they draw a gun, blow their fucking heads off (but stop shooting if they drop the gun.) How hard is that to comprehend?
  • by Bedouin X (254404) on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @10:31AM (#18081126) Homepage

    Good thing the Beltway Sniper used a semi-auto weapon. Oh, wait -- he used a bolt-action Remington Model 700!


    Actually no, they [wikipedia.org] did use a semi-automatic weapon [wikipedia.org].

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