I year or so ago I had a run in with a young municipal police officer (cop). I would guesstimate his age to be 25-28. As a pre-amble to the story, it is noteworthy to say that I drive a foreign oriental auto witch a week prior to this incident had a stock beep beep “excuse me” horn. At the time of the incident I’m about to relate, the car sported a serious North American stock horn. On to the story.
Leaving from a morning long meeting, I was stopped at the head of the driveway from a office tower waiting on traffic to enter the street with a left hand turn. Passing in front of me, going left to right in the street, at a snails pace (15km/hr; 7 mile/hr) was a policeman in a marked car. While driving, at this snails space, he was referencing his onboard computer monitor below is dash. He spotted me attempting to turn into the street, so he sped up. I made my left turn and was now following him. But he had again slowed to a crawl and was referencing his computer screen. He slowed so much I had to hit my brake to prevent running up his “derriere”. With no evidence that he was planning to speed up, and wanting to pass him, I leaned on my (never before used North American horn), pulled out left of him to pass. We made eye contact and his was shooting lasers. Right then, I sensed, that nothing good was going to follow.
As I pulled in front of him and sped up to the speed limit; so did he with a much louder noise mechanism and a kaleidoscope of colored lights to boot. My instinct told me that he wanted to have a chat. If you have ever been stopped for a traffic violation, you know that the wait for that walk by the officer from the cruiser to your window can seem like an eternity. I was expecting a protracted chastisement for leaning on my horn. I was wrong. He wasn’t in much of a mood for chatting. He just asked for my driver’s license, ownership, and insurance. I asked him why I was stopped, a short terse “excessive noise“. Without waiting for any reaction, he started back to his cruiser. I was watching him strut back in my rear view mirror in the image of a gunslinger, with the requested paperwork in one hand and his other hand on his holster. With ever “John Wayne” like step I could feel my blood pressure rhythmically rising skyward. I continued to “stew” at the grave injustice of my predicament, while he was running his routine wants and warrants. I wanted a clarification of this excessive noise thing, so I got out of my car and started towards the cruiser. He got out of his cruiser, and put his hand on his holster and stood firm. I said I wanted to know what he meant by excessive noise. He responded politely but sternly: “For your own safety, Please get back in you vehicle!!” I repeated my question. He responded, “..as defined by the Highway Traffic Act”. I complied and went back to my car. More waiting gave me more time to stew. His lack of communication made me angrier and I finally decided I was going to lodge a complaint against him. I wan’t sure how or where, but I was determined I was going to do it somehow. I decided the first step was to get his badge number and his precinct.
I got out of the car to go back to the cruiser to get his badge number. For my safety, this time I went on the curb side of the car. Little did I realize it was traffic danger he warned me about. It was the hand on the holster) By this time, a second cruiser arrived and the two were chatting (waiting for my wants and warrants report I guess). The second officer, said If he could help me. By this time I was angry and it probably showed. I said I’m looking for the “x$#hole’s, badge number, as I was planning to lodge a complaint. Clearly I said it loud enough that my officer heard me. The second officer said it would be on the citation, and to go back to my car.
This whole process took about half an hour. The original officer sauntered by to my window handed me two (2) citations of $110 each, on for the excessive noise and the other for not having my ownership form signed. I guess he didn’t take kindly to my name calling. I asked him for the precinct he was attached to and direction to get there. He politely complied and we parted company.
The precinct was some 10 miles away. This gave me time to develop a strategy that was more effective than an angered rant would convey. I knew that the officer’s superiors had no power to expunge the tickets, so that wasn’t a viable objective. I decided that the most effective strategy was to inquire as to what the procedure was to lodge a complaint against a police officer conduct.
The second, what was the complaint going to be, to be an effective complaint. I had a series of “bitches”, but most of them were self serving and as such would not be too terribly persuasive. Lastly, how am I going to present it to sound genuine and constructive, rather than a ranting maniac. I decided the conduct of the officer, in serving the public, was going to be the most persuasive tactic. He was driving dangerously, in a situation that didn’t call for it. Reading computer screen while driving and impeding traffic while doing it. Exercising excessive position power, in citing me for “excessive noise” when the purpose of the horn was to alert people around you. Posturing like a peacock with hand on holster to further his position power; projecting the message that “I’m a cop! I can do anything I want and how dare you honk your horn at me”. With this strategy I focused on finding the precinct.
In my next blog I will provide the results of launching my complaint.~