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Old 09-09-2019, 08:48 AM
chargerrich is offline
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Midwest
Posts: 1,074

How Should I Feel About This "Traffic Stop"

(after submitting this, I realize it maybe better belongs in great debates, my apologies and mods, feel free to move)

Let me preface this by stating that I have never been pulled over in my life for anything other than 2 or 3 speeding tickets (all deserved) and - generally speaking - would consider myself before this incident as "pro law enforcement".

That said, here is what i find to be a interesting scenario and one that has left me a little confused in terms of police tactics, profiling and what I now see as straight revenue generation.

I am driving home last week in chevy suburban on a country highway (one lane each way) through a lakeside town where every local knows there is at most times a marked officer who sits in his car and - literally - 50% of the time i drive through he has someone pulled over.

The speed limit is 55 and i am in a row of vehicles about 6 long. I see him well ahead and note i am driving about 49-51 so definitely not speeding. After we pass he pulls out, hits his lights, passes a few cars and then gets behind me, pulling me over.

I am buckled, I turn off the truck, grab my licenses, reg, and insurance and roll down my window and place both hands on the wheel. He takes an excessive amount of time (close to 10 mins) then exits his car, stays at the back and is shining his flashlight through my back window (tinted but legally). He then proceeds half way up the driver side toward me, sees me extend my hand with the papers from the steering wheel to the rolled down window to give him my license and paperwork. Instead of continuing, he walks to rear again (still using flashlight in every window), comes to passenger side and - rather aggressively - taps my passenger window (that is up) with his flashlight.

I have to turn my key back on to roll down the window and then we have the following dialogue:

Officer - Do you know why I pulled you over (no greeting, rather aggravated tone)

Me: No sir officer as I am pretty sure i was not speeding

Officer - You're right, you were not but you do have a license plate lamp out

Me: So you are pulling me over for a bulb out on my license plate?

Officer - Nope... but I now have probable cause - you would be surprised that stuff we find after a probable cause stop.

Me: (weak chuckle) - well you won't find anything else here

Officer - I'll be the judge of that, not you. License and proof of insurance. (at his point my glovebox is open and he is searching with his light throughout the truck)

Me: (Hand him the license and paperwork)

Officer - (reviews paperwork) - sir your insurance card is expired

Me: Well let me look around I know i have valid paperwork here (30 secs go by)

Officer - Wait here i will be right back (about 7 mins later - comes back with a ticket for no proof of insurance ticket)

Me: (I actually found the insurance card) Here is the proper insurance

Officer - You will need to show that to the judge on your court date, you did not present proper and valid insurance so i am writing you a ticket.

Now here i will freely admit i start to become agitated and as I ask him a second time why he can't just look at my insurance card so i do not have to make a court date. He responds as though I am speaking another langauge and just says "sign here"... to which i say "are you protecting and serving or just tax collecting?"

He chuckles and tells me to "get that light fixed, it is illegal to not illuminate your plate at night, hands me a copy and says "have a good night".

Now here is the real kicker for me... at this point I am thinking I am lucky he did not write a ticket for that light, and while it sucks to have to make a court date because the officer just wanted to be a dick, at least it will not cost me anything.

But when I arrive home, i leave the truck running to go look at the license plate light and find that the plate has two bulbs and while one was out the other was very bright and the plate was clearly visible. The bulbs are on each side of the plate and because he was on the shoulder going the same direction as I was, could see that one bulb was out even though the plate was fully luminated!

This obviously makes his comment about probable cause all the more relevant and clear that he was simply fishing for trouble. It also explains WHY he did not/could not write me a ticket for my plate not being visible.

So... i get that he was "letter of law" in his right, but to me - as a middle aged white guy - this really bring the whole "profiling debate" closer to home and i am not sure how i should feel about it.

As an afterward to this story... I called a close friend of mine who is a Police Officer in San Diego and relayed the story... and before i barely got started he said "let me stop you here and make a few guesses"... you were either in a small town or some resident community" (I respond affirmatively) he says... "yeah we have a name for those guys, accountants with guns... "its all about revenue and you were taxed"

Last edited by chargerrich; 09-09-2019 at 08:50 AM.


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