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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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  • It's funny? Laugh? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:17PM (#18071406)
    Someone has an odd sense of humor. What's so funny about the police misusing their power? Yeah, that Rodney King thing a few years ago was a real yuk-fest. And tasering that college student in the library to the point he was shrieking in pain? I couldn't stop chuckling after that one...
  • by Dunbal (464142) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:22PM (#18071472)
    This is just another case of the police force trying to intimidate someone who caught an officer doing something maybe they should not have been doing

          There, fixed it for ya. Thanks for the informative post, btw ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:23PM (#18071490)
    Unfortunately, only those few who have been on the receiving end of 'protection' know that what you say is mostly true. Don't let the facade fool you kids, grownups care about #1 only, and that includes cops. And the reason I post this anonymously is because I fear retribution from those 'protectors'. It's an ugly bunch and they take care of their own at any cost.
  • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:25PM (#18071508) Journal
    It's just like privacy. Can the government read your mail and tap your phone. Yes. Can you read what the government produces on your dime? Not on your life. Why that would invade the privacy of the republic.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:30PM (#18071582) Homepage
    The officer was in a public place where anybody can see you or photograph you.

    How is this possibly stalking? How is this different than being in any public place, and getting caught on any form of camera (either privately or publically owned)?

    Aren't there precedents which basically say you have no expectation of privacy when you're in a public area?

    I hope the judge in this case demonstrates some common sense.

    Cheers
  • It is funny that you list one tyrannous group after another in order to try to "fix" the initial group -- the local police.

    If Wal*Mart serves me badly, against what I consider a profitable exchange, I stop shopping there. Eventually, we see stores fail -- even big ones, often. If Burger King serves me badly, against what I consider a profitable exchange, I stop eating there. Eventually, we see restaurants fail -- even big ones, often. If the police serve me badly, what can I do? I can risk upsetting them by tattling on them. I can not stop using them, because I am forced to pay for them. Even worse, if I stop paying for them, guess who can come knocking on my door, with force? The very same people I am not happy with.

    Your solution sounds great, but how often would any of us take the risk to tattle on them? For proof, see original article.
  • Service to whom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:32PM (#18071624)
    Parent has some very valid points. Wherethere is a system or service, being controlled by its own practiitioners, then that system will evolve so as to cater for the desires of the practitioners. This is something that seems to happen in organisations independent of the scale (ie. families, small companies, large corporations, countries).

    Lawyers contruct a legal system that suites them, not one that best protects the citizens.

    The court system is constructed to put the courts ahead of anyone else. Contempt of court is a very big deal.

    Tax accountants construct a tax system that is too complicated for Joe Average to use, so you need to hire a tax consultant.

    Cops have a system that serves cops...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:36PM (#18071668)
    If a cop breaks the law, there is almost nothing you can do to fight them. There is a lot they can do, off the public record, that can harm you more than they harm you in their lawbreaking. Remember, cops are not here to protect you, there are there to protect their jobs -- and many of them love the power they wield over the average citizen. Why else do we have cop unions?

    Hardly, while there are obvious examples of "cops getting away" with things, you act as if this isn't already reflected in the general community. In our local paper, two cops have been fired and are awaiting criminal trials for abuse of power, so not all cops get away with everything. Conversely, there are plentiful examples of citizens "getting away" with numerous crimes. It's a general part of the system. Plus, your whole comment about "why else do we have cop unions" is laughable. I assume then that you consider all unions evil? Your grossly overgeneralized comments could be said about anyone in any profession (remember, the developer isn't there to help you, their just there to keep their jobs). Puleeze, anyone past the 4th grade can see how simplistic (but apparently popular) statement that is.

    What you do on your property is no one's responsibility but yours.

    I think you are confusing "responsibility" with something else? I think even cops would agree, ultimately YOU have responsibility over what happens on your property (certainly all personal injury lawyers agree with this).

    When a bunch of cops stopped an alleged speeder in front of my old house, I complained about the constant blue and red lights and strobes keeping me awake -- I was told I have no right to prevent it.

    I guess they should have let the guy continue speeding through your residential neighborhood until they got to some place where he wouldn't disturb anyones sleep? Or they should have turned off their lights, thereby increasing the chances that they might get hit by other motorists? Plus, look at your statement above. The street in front of your house is owned by the city (or county), you absolutely have the right to erect a barrier to block the light, as long as it doesn't run afoul of any local ordinances. So on your property, do what you want, the police, or anyone else, have no obligation to you while on public property.

    These folks put up cameras because the police did nothing for them to prevent speeders. This is to be expected -- when you need help, you won't find any.

    Again, nice oversimplification. Are these folks willing to pay more in taxes to get more police on the streets to help THEIR particular problem? I live in a predominantly quiet neighborhood and we are very sensitive to speeders, but I don't walk around thinking that MY problem is the biggest and/or only problem in the city.

    Your diatribe is humorous, and many will take your side. They choose to take the simple view of life, however far it differs from reality. That's why systems fail, not necessarily because of faults in the system, but because of the supreme lack of understanding by those who are trying to implement it. It's like OpenOffice vs M$ Office, all the rhetoric about FOSS being "better" don't mean squat if you can't get something implemented that is better. While you may have won some kind of "moral" victory (and that is dubious at best), you have not truly helped the general populace.
  • by Cornflake917 (515940) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:36PM (#18071672) Homepage

    They are not here to help you, there are not here to protect you -- there are there to protect their own incomes and pensions, and you are powerless to stop it as long as you continue to vote into office people who love the authoritarian powers attached to both the liberal and conservative sides of the political system.
    Yay for sweeping generalizations! A cop going over 15 miles speed limits means that all cops want to subject us to their evil tryanny! Give me a break.

    Here is the facts:
    Cops are people.
    There are good people and there are bad people.
    Therefore, there are good cops and bad cops.

    My best friend is a police officer in Phoenix. He is truly a great guy. The whole reason why he wanted to be a police officer is because he wanted to help people. I believe him when he says it because he's done some crazy things like running out in traffic to render aid to really bad accident at an intersection. When he is off duty, he really is a friendly guy.

    I went to visit him, and he drove me around when we went out. Even off duty, he drove like a speed demon. I asked him what happens if he got pulled over for speeding. He said he simply shows the cop his police identification, and the cop will let him go about his way. So there you have it, he speeds because he can, not because he is on some evil power trip. Would you speed if you know you wouldn't get a ticket? I sure would. Hell, I still speed regardless.

    I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Even our mayor, some one who you would probably see as part of the "tryannical government", got in big trouble for following a speeding cop. All he was doing was try to get the cops license number, but instead he got a heafty fine.

    So the problem isn't with the "tryannical" government trying to oppress us, as you so FUDingly pointed out. Nor is it the cops themselves. It's policies with in the police department. I'm sure someone has the power to change the policies, whether it's the sherriff or the mayor. Just remember, if we force police to pull themselves over, we are forcing them to work against each other.

    Please stop pinning cops as assholes on a power trip. Maybe some of them are that way because they never get any respect, even when they are trying to help.

  • by 3278 (1011735) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:38PM (#18071700) Homepage
    > The problem with public officials is that they have the right to use excessive force in order to protect their position. The average citizen has no right to call out any public official on any illegal actions since the average citizen has no real power against non-elected public officials.

    This is simply untrue. One might say that, in execution, public officials sometimes have greater power than the average citizen - and one would be quite right in saying that - but by the law, with the exception of those acts which must be allowed in order for public servants to do their jobs, every citizen of the United States has the same rights. Your expression of dismay is righteous, as far as it objects to those cases where public officials abuse their authority, but beyond that, you're simply painting all government employees with a tremendously wide brush, overgeneralizing to the point of uselessness.

    And it's worth noting that this officer has withdrawn his application for a warrant. My instinct says that he shouldn't have applied for one in the first place, but, like you, I know vastly too little about the actual circumstances to make any judgement against the officer.

    For every case of a police officer abusing his power, there are literally millions of cases of police officers simply doing their jobs. Broad statements like yours distort the problem, actually making it /more/ difficult to solve.

    > There is a lot they can do, off the public record, that can harm you more than they harm you in their lawbreaking.

    As can anyone else. Government employees have no monopoly on abusive actions taken off public record.

    > Remember, cops are not here to protect you, there are there to protect their jobs -- and many of them love the power they wield over the average citizen. Why else do we have cop unions?

    False dilemma. You give two choices - unions exist, therefore either police are here to protect their jobs, or to protect you. The third option is that like anyone else in any other job, they're there to do both. I suggest you spend some time with actual police officers before you start throwing around statements like, "cops are not here to protect you." Ignorance always sounds foolish.

    > If someone's light-rays that bounce off their body enter your property, they are now YOUR property.

    It's amusing, because I'm quite anti-government - anti-restriction-of-individual-liberty, actually - but even I wouldn't go so far as to say that any light rays which enter my property now belong to me. Is this true of air, as well? I cannot /imagine/ the possibilities for abuse - by individuals, that is - should such a property law be passed. "You stepped on my grass, so it's legal for me to eat you!"

    > When will people learn that it isn't left or right, it is pro-tyranny and against-tyranny -- liberals and conservatives are on the "pro-tyranny" side of the coin. The opposite side of the coin is not a libertarian, as some might think, but an anarcho-capitalist.

    Oh, gods. Yes, we'll all certainly have more pleasant lives under anarcho-capitalism.

    I don't want to criticize you, as a person, and I apologize if I appear to have done so, but your views are worth of ridicule, as is the lack of reasoning behind them, even if you, personally, are not.
  • by nexuspal (720736) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:39PM (#18071708)
    He wasn't "getting away" with anything. He could have been going to a call Code 2, which means get there fast but doesn't require lights and sirens. He could also have been catching up to a drunk driver, and if that's the case, he doesn't need to turn his lights on either, so he can get behind the driver and see how well/bad they are driving...
  • by alakazam (529128) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:39PM (#18071710)
    As much as I despise new laws always popping up, I *really* wish we could make it legal to audio/video record *any* government official in the course of their work. Without notice or permission. If they're "on the job" they should be fair game for being recorded by their employer (us). It would solve a lot of problems if "they" didn't think they were above "us."
  • by sootman (158191) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:45PM (#18071836) Homepage Journal
    Evidently not us.
  • by Fastolfe (1470) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:46PM (#18071864)
    In theory, a judge should be immune from public opinion. They're there to interpret the law as written, not rationalize something just because it's what the people want.

    If it turns out that these people are likely to be convicted, that's the time to start writing, but you'd want to contact your legislators or the person pressing charges, not the judge.
  • Re:Service to whom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RocketScientist (15198) * on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:48PM (#18071884)
    The police are not there to protect you.
    The police are there to do the paperwork after you are unable to protect yourself.

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:49PM (#18071904)
    I disagree. I've seen to many examples of "nice" cops (and the courts who support them) who turn ruthless if confronted with evidence that they are breaking the rules.

    Even "nice" cops are fundamentally in love with their power over others. And this includes some of my relatives in law enforcement. They just love the fact that they can make your life hell if you are just an average joe.

    Like most bullies, they are abject cowards when it comes to people with real power (and rightfully so since the cops get the same treatment when they try to enforce real rules on people in power). You cross the wrong person- your career is over. You might as well leave law enforcement and go be a milk maid.
  • by StressGuy (472374) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:51PM (#18071940)
    let me correct the above statement:

    The guy that got your fries last time you went to McDonald's or Burger King or whatever, doesn't care about you...but the police officer, firefighter, engineer, doctor, or other professionals do...at least to the extent their profession requires.

    You see, once you've gone past the menial labor industry, your job becomes more than simply 'how you earn your income' or 'what you do for a living', it becomes part of how you identify yourself as a person.

    While there will always be exceptions to any rule, in general, the police officer became a police officer because something about that profession appealed to who he was.

    Nothing wrong with being vigilant against abuses of power, but the particulars of this case don't exactly herald a fall into totalitarianism just yet...to wit:

    1) Said section of road was at the base of a steep hill

    2) The couple had sent numerous e-mails to the officer and, in fact, the charge he filed was "stalking"...he has since dropped those charges. As I understand, the couple was never charged with pointing a camera at a public road.

  • by Darlantan (130471) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:51PM (#18071946)
    So, wait, his off-duty speeding is somehow more legitimate than when I speed? Explain the reasoning there. Is it somehow safer for him to speed? Do the laws of physics bend a little for cops and make a car driven by a cop at 75 MPH do the same damage as a car crashing at 55 MPH with a civvie behind the wheel?

    "Because you can" is no more a valid excuse for police to break the law than it is for me. The difference is that they can chose to enforce the rules when and if they choose. Speeding on the job, when required, is overlooked because it is usually required to perform a task that benefits the public safety. Driving around at 20 MPH over the limit just because they can is endangering the public safety. That's why we have speed limits to begin with. If they want to drive like bats out of hell even when it isn't needed, perhaps they should push to do away with speed limits.

    You're right, though. Police are people too, not evil overlords bent on dominating everyone else. As such, they should be held to the same standards as the rest of us.
  • by planetmn (724378) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:52PM (#18071958)
    If you bother to follow the link to the article, it is a short summary, followed by mentioning that if you'd like to read the article (as in, you know, the news, and hopefully some details), to go get the paper.

    Creating a front-page Slashdot story out of this is just plain stupid.

    Find an actual article with some facts, or don't post the story. Sure, it's common on slashdot to think that the police are out to get you, but there is no reason to believe that the summary is in any way an accurate portrayal of the situation.

    -dave
  • by a_nonamiss (743253) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:52PM (#18071960)
    Why should cops get to break the law when they want to? Not saying they are tyrannical, but they are no more special than you or me. Next time you get pulled over, ask the cop why he is giving you a ticket. He'll say "Speeding causes accidents, so we ticket people to make them slow down." or something to that effect. So are you trying to say that cops can drive better than the average person? Is this because they go on a neat training course where they learn how to drive fast? If that's the case, then I should be able to take that class as a private citizen and get a license to speed as well.

    I don't think that cops are sitting around laughing and speeding because they are assholes. In reality, I think the whole speed enforcement racket is a joke. But, if they are going to expect me to pay fines because I am speeding and say it's to increase public safety, then they need to follow the same damn laws. If this guy was legitimately on the way to an emergency, then he should have had his lights and siren on. If it was a "silent call" then there is a protocol for that, too. But if it was neither of them, then he should get a fine and get points on his license just like the rest of us.
  • by weston (16146) <westonsd AT canncentral DOT org> on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:57PM (#18072056) Homepage

    The problem with public officials is that they have the right to use excessive force in order to protect their position. The average citizen has no right to call out any public official on any illegal actions since the average citizen has no real power against non-elected public officials.


    The problem is probably more closely related to the fact that, in part due to the libertarian ravings about "the gubmint" like your own, in part due to the dissolution of community, people have stopped seeing *themselves* as the source of civic power and have therefore chosen to be governed rather than govern themselves. Eliminating civic power is one choice, of course, but really, it simply makes the eventual private power structure that arises more opaque and even less accountable, should the citizenry choose to rouse itself at some point. The Sipples have recourse in courts and councils right now. Remove civic power, and they wouldn't have that alternative, or a speed limit to attempt to enforce, or a means via which to try to enforce it other than personal confrontation.

    They'll have to spend some time and attention getting a matter of social conflict resolved. But the truth is that this problem wouldn't magically go away in a Liberatarian fantasy world, and they'd have fewer tools to work with.

  • by jschultz410 (583092) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:58PM (#18072090)
    From the clues in the article clips (it would be great if someone could summarize the full ones) it seems that the family got a hold of the officer's email address and were sending him email. I have no idea how much or what was the topic of those emails, but I'm pretty sure the harassment claim stemmed from these emails and not from the original video taping.

    As a private individual you can set up just about whatever kind of surveillance on your property that you like. The road is a public place and you are allowed to video tape in public places as well, so there should be no legal problem with doing what they did.

    My main point is that it is obvious we don't have the full story from these news clips and all the people who are railing against this officer and his abuse of power are rushing to judgement. That being said, I'm still willing to bet the officer brought the suit because he was PO'ed about being reported to his superiors. People abuse the legal system this way all the time. The problem is that his suit has turned this minor incident into a big PR story and so the local government might be forced to take some kind of politically correct action against him for his speeding ... hoisted by his own petard possibly ...
  • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Monday February 19, 2007 @03:59PM (#18072108)
    1. Buy a full inventory of ammo. 2. Hole up in an alley. 3. Type "bringiton" and watch your wanted level flash up to 6 stars. 4. Relieve angst against The Man by killing hundreds of fat cops. Oh wait, are we talking about real life here?
  • by rpbird (304450) on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:01PM (#18072130) Homepage Journal
    Have you heard of democracy and the court system? Local communities get fed up with their high-handed police all the time. They sue the city, they campaign against the police chief (if it's an elected position), they put up opposition candidates to local elected officials. Local government elections aren't as sexy as national elections, but they have more real impact on your life. Take my little town, for instance. There's always someone upset at the sheriff or the mayor or a county commissioner or the school superintendent. There are always recall elections, new candidates for sheriff, lawsuits against the school, lawsuits against the city, reform candidates for mayor (our new mayor is the reform candidate, he won the last election), and write-in campaigns aimed against the county commission. This in a rural Kansas town of 1500, in a county of 5000 people. Got a problem with government? Fix it yourself, with a little help from your friends. That's the essence of democracy.
  • Re:Moo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:03PM (#18072160) Homepage Journal
    Well, if by "catch" you mean "give him a ticket", then no, the civilian couple did not do that.

    But if by "catch" you mean "show that the SOB was doing 17 over the limit on his way to Waffle House, then, I'd say "Yes", they managed to make their point.
  • by DCheesi (150068) on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:11PM (#18072316) Homepage
    If a police officer knew a live feed of their activities was going out via the web, don't you think they would be a little bit more carefully in how they treat people?

    Or they'd just beat the crap out of you and steal your camera...
  • by Seventh Magpie (826312) on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:17PM (#18072444)
    Man I am sick of hearing all you cop haters with your one sided statements such as "They are not here to protect you, they are here to protect their jobs," or statements about them abusing they powers. Spending 5 years of my very early life as a police officer I have a very different and accurate opinion. Firstly, it's sick to hear the bashers with the statements after of risking my life to protect the public. Yes, I have had several near death incidents protecting you: almost got struck by cars on roadways trying to help people stranded on the freeways or while responding to motor vehicle collisions, got shots fired in my direction while a person was taken hostage, climbed down steep high cliffs to save the passengers of a car that had tumbled down onto a ledge, ran into a burning building to save elderly at a care home. That is not to mention the everyday things like scuffling with a disorderly person who is drunk or high on meth, or trying to arrest the irate spouse beater. Or how about all the non-injurious things I did that made a difference in someone's life? The countless talks I had with teens who ran away because they hated school or their parents or the ones I had with the depressed and suicidal patients I took in for mental observations. How about all those elementary schools I visited and did outreach with the students, trying to veer them away from drug use and try to give them self confidence. (For you who don't see drug use as a big deal, then you probably have never seen the effects of crystal methamphetamine). So to all your cop haters, maybe you should actually TALK to a cop and see what his job is really about, instead of just guessing within the comfort of your own home behind your computer screen, basing what you know about law enforcement from what you see in movies, cops, and from getting a ticket. It's always damned if you do, damned if you don't. Like that one buffoon who made a complaint because of the blue lights were bothering him. He complained about the cops doing their jobs protecting his neighborhood. So what do the cops do? Don't patrol his neighborhood? If you all could experience being a cop, then you would understand this dilemma! Moving on to the topic. I have a few key points to bring up. Was the cop on duty or was he off duty? If he was on duty, then there should be no issue. Why would an on duty cop who is traveling 17 miles over the speed limit be abusing his power? Take these following situations: 1) Cop is addressing this resident's complaint and sees someone speeding so chases after him. He has to speed in order to catch up to him and to pace him. Duh? 2) Cop has a call. Perhaps you are at home and someone is trying to break in. Now do you want him to follow the speed limit while the burglar is assaulting you? Perhaps the cop was off duty. Yes he should not speed, but the evidence presented by this resident should not be admissible. PERIOD. Why? Because evidence is held to a high standard, that it is highly unlikely this resident followed such standards. I would ask, what type/model/make of radar gun is he using and has it been accepted in court. Has the radar been serviced and correctly calibrated? Is there a time/date stamp mechanism and has that been properly calibrated? Has the image capture been properly calibrated with the radar? Has any official agency used this exact setup and has the operation been properly tested and documented. Were there any other cars in the area and did the camera pick up any other cars? Unlike laser, radar is wide dispersed, so there has to be some judgment on which car was actually traveling that speed. You would want this same type of checks and balances if YOU were to get a ticket from a cop. It's wrong to get a ticket for going 70 when you were only going 60 right? But the MAIN reason is that this citizen does not have any legal right to issue any type of traffic complaint. At most his complaint should be taken as a internal investigation. Finally most of you are making conclusions about the resident being prosecuted or looked at for stalking. Well after reading that VERY short article, there is not much you can conclude. There is probably a lot more to the story than you can infer from such a short article.
  • by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:18PM (#18072460)
    There will come a time when eventually enough people will get fed up with how we are being treated and go back and follow the words of our own fore fathers:

    That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

    However, I think that that document will be ruled contraband long before that happens.
  • by Cornflake917 (515940) on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:24PM (#18072582) Homepage

    Like most bullies, they are abject cowards when it comes to people with real power (and rightfully so since the cops get the same treatment when they try to enforce real rules on people in power)
    This is the most ludicrous statement I've heard all day. That means alot because I've been reading lots of comments on slashdot today.

    Cops are definately not cowards. You can say they abuse their powers at times, but I think it takes alot of balls to be dealing with criminals on a constant basis. I don't know if you ever been shot at before, but putting yourself in the line of fire is not a cowardly action. People always bitch and moan about cops screwing them over. The fact is that cops are saving people's lives every day, but once a cop is giving you a speeding ticket they instantly become the tyranny the rules over us all. I have even more respect for cops because of this.

    My friend says most of his non-report writing time is spent on dealing with domestic disputes. He always tries to get both sides of the story, and tries to treat people with respect. He's told me many stories where he is treated like shit by the person who he is trying to help. Do you know what it feels like to be treated like shit, when you're only trying to help? If you are dick to a cop, don't be surprised when he is dick back. The difference is that he can actually screw you over. The golden rule can go a long way with dealing with cops.
  • by noidentity (188756) on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:24PM (#18072584)
    "Then one time I saw a police car on the freeway that did exactly that. Thanks, Officer Jerk, for setting a great example."

    Did you know that police are usually on the road for a different reason than you are? Perhaps he was intentionally keeping someone behind him, or something besides getting from point A to point B efficiently and courteously.
  • by slack_prad (942084) on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:25PM (#18072602) Journal

    If the police serve me badly, what can I do?
    Become one.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:28PM (#18072670)
    The only good traffic cop is off-duty, retired or dead.
  • by porkface (562081) on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:31PM (#18072734) Journal
    It's sad that you presume that all of those organizations, through and through, are tyrants.

    Because that is not the case. Anything you cite I'm sure will be annecdotal and far from evidence that as a whole those organizations are bad.

    And it's kind of funny that so many of the annecdotes tend to involve citizens with a deep seeded opinion that the police are bad. I'm not saying that's the case here, but it seems to be the case quite often.

    It's important to know the difference between not trusting authority and distrusting authority.
  • by AndyG314 (760442) on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:43PM (#18072888) Homepage
    To me the mistake they made was taking their evidence directly to the poliece department that was causing the problem. The poliece department's actions were largly to be expected. Very few people are willing to bust their friends and co-workers. Instead the couple should have taken the issue to an independent body with power to resolve the situation. An elected official, traffic violation reporting service which many states operate, or even the local media to generate some bad press. It may not have gotten them any further, but to me it seems like their odds would have been better.
  • A cop is better trained in tactical driving than the average citizen. You may be a good driver, but it is fairly improbable that you have the requisite training to make you safer at speeds higher than the average speed of traffic around you (which *should* be at the posted limit).

    First thing you are taught in tactical driving is that while you can know your own thought processes and predict behavior based on that, you can't do that for any other vehicle on the road. Cop or not, you speed if there is a need to, not because you "can".

    My uncle in Scotland got booked twice for speeding there. His occupation? "Police Advanced Driving Instructor Trainer". As in he taught the people who worked as advanced driving instructors for the police. He admitted that on one occasion he had no valid reason, but on the other there was a similar story to your friends. Neither circumstance nor title was grounds for dismissal of case, and indeed he faced disciplinary consequences. Arguably, he could almost definitely have avoided either ticket by flashing his badge, but he felt it morally inappropriate to do so.

  • by Simon Garlick (104721) on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:55PM (#18073076)
    There will come a time when eventually enough people will get fed up with how we are being treated ... and go back to drinking beer and watching NASCAR, because they've already forgotten what it was they were fed up with. The public schools they went to never taught them about their forefathers anyway, some dead guys apparently. Like, whatever. Ooh, a new Ford commercial!

    There, I fixed your post for you.
  • Re:Illogical (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Logic and Reason (952833) on Monday February 19, 2007 @04:58PM (#18073132) Homepage

    It's not the logic that is bad, just bad symantics.
    No, that IS bad logic, and you're only making it worse by trying to hand-wave it away. Not many people would disagree with you if you just asserted that good cops exist, and in fact your anecdote would be sufficient to prove that assertion rigorously if we accept the axiom that your cop friend is a "great guy." But your attempt to prove the assertion using faulty logic only detracts from the rest of your argument, and your attempt to defend said faulty logic makes me think you really ought to take that "college course in logic" you refer to.

    Oh, and your "set analysis" is nonsense.
  • by soft_guy (534437) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:00PM (#18073176)
    They way you describe him, it sounds like he is on a definite power trip if he thinks it is OK for him to break the law whenever he wants just because he is a cop.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:06PM (#18073308)
    I agree and disagree with you. They can be very brave with regard to criminals (possibly being killed) and then immediately turn around and be completely cowardly to a political threat (possibly "only" ending their career as a cop).

    They get caught all the time covering up minor offenses by themselves and people with the right connections.

    When the criminals get real power (ala mexico), the police back off. How does the old hack go-- "Cops got better things to do than get killed in Harlem". Same thing for many areas of New Orleans PRE Katrina.

    They are peculiar heros, my nephew would put his life on the line to protect innocents from bad guys and then regale you with a tale about intimidating the same innocents himself. They do want to do good, but they are corrupted by the power given to them.

  • by Who235 (959706) <secretagentx9 AT cia DOT com> on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:08PM (#18073356)
    And what, exactly, would you call doing something because you can get away with it if not a power trip?

    I submit that acting like you're above the law because it has no consequences for you is the very definition of a power trip.

    I'm tired of this bullshit, and frankly I'm tired of hearing about your pal the cop with a heart of freakin' gold.

    Power corrupts. It has already started working its magic on your buddy, who thinks nothing of breaking one of the laws he is sworn to uphold. His selfish disregard of the speed limit might seem trivial to you - and maybe it is - but the fact remains that what he is doing is still criminal no matter how you try to rationalize it and he knows damn well that he'll never be punished.

    At least when you or I choose to speed, we know we might get a ticket and can weigh that as part of our decision to abide by or ignore the law. He has no such restrictions.

    How long until Officer Friendly decides to start ignoring some of the other laws on the books?

    Or will that be OK since he's such a teddy-bear and no one is nice to him and blah, blah, blah?
  • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:10PM (#18073388) Journal
    As such, they should be held to the same standards as the rest of us.

    No, actually as enforcers(and this goes for those who write the law also) of the law, they should pay a much higher price for violating it.
  • by mr_mischief (456295) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:10PM (#18073396) Journal
    The lights and siren are warning devices. If the police cruiser is operated at what is considered to be above safe limits for traffic and there are other drivers on the roadway who may be in danger by the excess speed, those drivers should be protected by using the warning lights and/or siren. That said, whether or not a car being operated a few miles over the speed limit by a well-trained driver is endangering anyone is a judgment call. The officer's judgment, usually.

    If an officer actually causes an accident because he wasn't using his warning devices, that's a different matter of course. I absolutely agree that in many cases the "no lights, no speeding" idea many civilians have is silly. OTOH, some police officers could do a bit more legal driving than they do on the way to non-emergency situations. In some areas 20+ miles over the limit without lights seems like the normal trip home at the end of a shift.

    IANAPO, and IANAL, but if I have to give anyone benefit of the doubt, it's usually going to be a police officer in good standing despite the fact that many police officers are total dicks.
  • by Myopic (18616) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:13PM (#18073456)
    Are these folks willing to pay more in taxes to get more police on the streets to help THEIR particular problem?

    Did anyone say anything about there being too few cops on the street? The people in the article (the Sipples) did have a problem with speeders, but the context of the rest of the story suggests that there are in fact cops patrolling their street, but that the cops weren't doing anything about the speeders.

    Now, I'm a libertarian, so perhaps I would suggest that the speed limit might be too low and that the Sipples need to stfu and keep their kid out of the street, but if society agreed on a speed limit -- and it did -- and if society hired some police to enforce that limit -- and it did -- and if they hired enough police to patrol that very street -- AND IT DID -- then my estimation of the situation is that the police were not only breaking the law, and were not only abusing their powers (in that watchdogging the police is not "stalking" by any stretch of the imagination), but were also negligently failing to do their job by enforcing the law.

    It is certainly reasonable to fire any person from their job for failing to perform it satisfactorily, and it is even more clearly reasonable to do so with a safety officer; but this officer didn't just fail to do his job, he also broke the law (as well as his oath to obey and uphold the law), and most importantly, he abused his lawful power. Any of those transgressions are sufficient for terminating the officer; all three together might warrant criminal prosecution.
  • by All Names Have Been (629775) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:22PM (#18073584)
    Training my ass. I spend some of my free time racing cars, doing autocross, and have been through driving courses that a I dare-say makes the average cops' driving training pale by comparison. Should I be allowed to speed? Heck, we an institutionalize it - take some courses, and speed all you want!

    What you (and these cops apparently) fail to understand is that no matter how good you are, there are 10,000 other assholes out there that can't drive worth a shit, not to mention kids, unforeseen road problems, etc. Some of these cannot be avoided, and the only way to mitigate damage is to slow the fuck down.

    Out in the middle of nowhere with no one to kill but yourself, sure speed. In town with other traffic or in a residential area - you better have a damn good reason to be hauling ass. And one of those reasons isn't that you're an off-duty cop. There's a reason that cop cars and emergency vehicles have lights and sirens. It's to help ensure that people get out of the way. Speeding without those running is especially reckless. Again - you better have a damn good reason.
  • by rbarreira (836272) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:24PM (#18073622) Homepage
    Now you made it even worse?

    Cops are a subset of people.
    Since the set of people could contain both bad people and good people, a cop could be a good person and a bad person.

    Elephants are a subset of animals.
    Since the set of animals could contain both animals with hundreds of eyes and necrophag animals, an elephant could be an animal with hundreds of eyes and a scavenging animal.
  • Above the law? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:27PM (#18073660)
    How is it that these civil servants are always attempting to place themselves above the law? Ultimately, that's what this boils down to. If they, instead, attempted to fight the charges based on the merit of their evidence, I'd guess they'd have a pretty good chance at winning and they wouldn't run the risk of appearing to be these arrogant, above-the-law, a-holes that they appear to be at the moment.

    To create a charge of "stalking" when the equipment used is on their own property and targeting "public areas" without being specific to individuals in question, I can't imagine how they expect to make stalking charges stick.

    Still, regardless of how ridiculous the charges they face are, they are facing charges and they now need to employ an attorney to defend themselves. It's an expense I can't imagine they will be successful in recovering... this is going to be rather long and drawn-out for them. I feel for their plight. After all, if you sit back and do nothing, you have yourself to blame. If you do something about it you make yourself vulnerable to exactly this sort of retaliation.
  • by RealGrouchy (943109) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:27PM (#18073668)

    I *really* wish we could make it legal to audio/video record *any* government official in the course of their work.

    These people were recording *anybody* who was speeding on the street in front of their home. The activities they were recording too place in *public*.

    What, are they supposed to program the camera to blink every time a police cruiser goes by?

    - RG>
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:27PM (#18073678)

    I never said that it's safer for cops to speed. I'm just trying to dispel this idea that all cops are on power trips.
    If speeding because they can get away with it isn't a damn good example of a power trip then what the fuck is, you retard?
  • by ChristTrekker (91442) on Monday February 19, 2007 @05:56PM (#18074170)

    Have you heard of democracy and the court system?

    Have you ever heard of limited government? Any government, even a democratic one, will tend to grow to suit its own needs. (People discover they can vote themselves money out of the public treasury, and then vote to rob their richer neighbors so the public treasury has more money for them. This is merely one illustration.) The founders of the U.S. understood this, and wrote a Constitution that (in theory) strictly limited the government's powers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @06:10PM (#18074362)
    Whoever though it was a good idea to make a call that was drive like a maniac without public warning needs to be shot, hung and then have the body placed on a pike as an example.

    only a dumbshit would let an officer drive 100+mph in public traffic without lights at LEAST. you cant judge speed, I would pull out to pass seeing a car 700 feet behind me and by the time he reacts he is either upside down in the ditch or halfway through my car.

    Dont even try the "they have training" BS. their reaction time is not good enough to react safely in 1000 feet at 100mph.
  • by polar red (215081) on Monday February 19, 2007 @06:24PM (#18074562)
    what about: price agreements between the biggest players in the market ... THAT garantees the largest profit. wake up, capitalism is fundamentally broken.
  • Re:Moo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Monday February 19, 2007 @06:24PM (#18074568) Journal
    They wouldn't dare. One thing that this whole fracas demonstrates is that publicity is a great way to bring pressure to bear on officials who are out of line.

    -jcr

  • by foreverdisillusioned (763799) on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:05PM (#18075132) Journal
    I love dragging out this story every time the police aplogists come out of the woodwork.

    Many years ago, I was working a brief stint at McDonalds (yes, McDonalds :weeps:) because my other jobs had fallen through. My good friend Pam was working drive through, when a large, pissed off black woman pulled to the pick-up window and tried to order something. We were in the middle of a rush (if you don't understand what a "rush" is in fast food parlance, count yourself blessed and imagine instead, say, the first 10 minutes from Saving Private Ryan), so Pam told her "sorry, we don't take orders from this window, you'llhave to drive around again."

    The woman was... displeased. She got out of the car, started berating my friend quit severely, tried to pry open the window while Pam held it shut, then, as god as my witness, she punched THROUGH the plate glass window, hitting Pam in the face.

    Through all this, my friend mantained professionalism, did not insult the customer and after she was hit, calmly walked away and called the police. You see, even the lowliest fry cooks are expected to have PROFESSIONALISM. We were not allowed to yell at customers, let alone spit in their food. We did our jobs as civilly as possible, despite the fact that it was gruling and we were making wage.

    My friend, the FRY COOK, observed that the woman had done a VERY stupid thing and was now bleeding profusely everywhere and was in no shape to threaten anyone. What would your average cop have done, if a large black woman had slugged HIM across the chin? Would he have allowed her to fall to the ground and bleed and cry in peace? Or would he first teach her a lesson? At the very least, I'd say, she would walk away with a few extra nasty brusies. If the cop was in a bad mood, probably a broken bone or a concussion. I've seen, on a Cops-like reality show, the police tazer a (black) man who was doing nothing other than "walking towards them in a threatening manner", when I could see nothing even remotely threatening in his shuffling about (a good 15+ feet away--they were the projectile tazers, and his hands were in plain sight.) The police were PROUD to defend their actions, and confident enough to release the footage to the producers of the show (so, I wondered--what was on the tape they felt too questionable to release?) After being shocked, the man fell face first onto cement, most likely resulting in severe contusions and hairline fractures.

    But this war story of mine is just an extreme example. Trust me, McDonald's has a neverending supply of asshole customers. The fact of the matter is, you can walk into nearly any retail business--insulting, cussing, being as big of an asshole as you want--and the workers there (so long as they aren't self-employeed business owners) will generally refrain from retaliation. They will DO THEIR JOBS with as least some semblance of professionalism.

    But you'd have to be CRAZY to try the same asshole routine with a cop. They do NOT give a rats ass about fairness and professionalism unless you kiss the they walk on.

    Yeah yeah yeah, I'm SURE it's a shitty job, but--in the words of Carlos Mencia--when they give you a sidearm, a second gun to strap to your ankle, pepper spray (actually, more often it's a chemical mace unavailable to the public) to blind them, a stick to beat 'em down with, a bulletproof vest to protect you from return fire, a shotgun in a trunk, a dog in the back seat and a radio so you can call for backup, you just might have to think to yourself: you know, I think some shit might be going down. To put it another way, as cops you should be PREPARED to wield the authority, the power that has been entrusted to you--but you should absolutely NOT use it unless necessary. When these cops decided to arrest and charge this poor couple for reporting a crime (yes, infractions such as speeding are *crimes*), they abused their power and we should NOT forgive them simply because i
  • Re:Moo (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 19, 2007 @07:16PM (#18075262)
    This situation itself shouldn't be moot. The officer should be brought up on charges of witness tampering and harrassment, not to mention be fired from his job for abuse of authority. His actions are clearly retaliatory and meant to intimidate.
  • by Chikenistheman (992447) on Monday February 19, 2007 @09:42PM (#18076620)
    Could it mean you or I could then speed "within the law" up to 17 MPH over the sign? To me, I could give two craps if a cop speeds passed me. But if I press harder on my gas pedal to get home faster and get a $100+fine and traffic school then damn right I'll be pissed.
  • Now, there are some who might claim that this was not a threat of violence

    Yes, there are. But none of those people are judges or lawyers.

    What you did is protected by the US Constitution. Go find yourself a lawyer, NOW. You need to know your rights and duties in relation to your state's laws.
  • by Theaetetus (590071) <theaetetus...slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @08:27AM (#18080584) Homepage Journal
    The fact that the cop dropped his application for a warrant against them shows that he knows that it was wrong and possibly illegal. It was an attempt to intimidate the couple, illegal in itself and doubly wrong when it's someone that we charge with protecting the peace. He should be suspended, if not fired, for this. The speeding? Give him a ticket, show that no one is above the law. The attempt to intimidate citizens into not complaining? That should get him off the force.
  • by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Tuesday February 20, 2007 @09:14AM (#18080962) Journal
    False accusations are no laughing matter. You shouldn't expect to be able to drop an accusation and walk away easily. How about if I accused someone of stalking me, then word gets out, he loses his job, and then just before trial, "oops, just kidding!"

    That's not how it's supposed to work. And these were police officers abusing their trust, not some jealous bitter woman trying to snare an ex.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

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