inkwellIn part one I recounted a traffic violation stop I experienced for “excessive noise” by a young officer who clearly enjoyed his position power. His name; his jurisdiction, are all unimportant as I believe the perversity for this type of behaviour while not rampant, is none the less present universally within all police forces. Some personalities just thrive on position power. Position power tends to give them the perception that they can somehow conduct themselves in a manner they would never think of behaving without the “power”.

Then and there I decided I was going to blow the rest of my day and lodge a complaint against him, or at least investigate whether there is a mechanism to do so. Having obtained from him the directions to his precinct, and his two citation(S) amounting to $220, I proceeded to make my way to seek “Justice”. The second citation was for not having my ownership slip signed by the owner, which I’m convinced was awarded for my disparaging reference to his resemblance to a body part not often seen by sunshine.

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”.

I walked up to the counter at the precinct and asked for the shift supervisor. The officer at the desk went to fetch the shift supervisor. The precinct was nothing you see on Law and Order, bustling with gun toting officers. No, the precinct was a large modern building of some 6 or 7 stories, with the “front desk” area quite quiet, with only one uniformed officer on the counter. A few seconds later the desk officer returns with the shift supervisor who politely asks me how he can help me.

policeman4-ca“I’m looking for help in finding out how to lodge a conduct complaint against an officer.” I asked.

“Whose the officer?” he asked. I read the name off the two citations.

“This is the place and I’m the one to whom you should lodge the complaint.” He replied.

As we were within earshot of the desk officer, the shift supervisor suggested a private conference room to continue the interview. As I followed him, I observed he was roughly in my age group; well into the “early boomer” demographic.

Settled into a medium sized conference (a board room size) we were facing one another across the table.

“OK tell me what happened.” He began.

I began my tale of woe, remembering to keep cool non confrontational, offensive or derogatory. I just kept to the facts and elements I found objectionable. Initially, Each item save for two, he began to defend the officer’s action.

  • Driving while working the laptop – no comment
  • Having had to hit my brakes when he slowed – well I must have been following too close.
  • Leaning on my horn to get his attention to alert the officer that I was pulling out to pass him. (It was an industrial street, mid day with lots of extraneous noise around.)
  • He hit his lights and siren (What about that noise?) – That’s to get your attention.
  • His explanation for being stopped – “excessive noise”; when questioned about that his response “ excessive noise – in accordance with the Highway traffic Act. “”look it up” and walked away. – He is instructed not to get into a situation that becomes argumentative.
  • When I got out of the car to get the cruiser license plate, (with a view to report him) He got out of his cruiser, (I assume he was running a wants and warrants) placed his hand on his holster and in very strong tone said “For your own safety, please get back into your car” [the tone and the “please” cancelled each other, but I got the message. The Shift supervisor said he was right, the officer was trying to protect you from traffic.

“ But it was a side street, with no traffic and I was on the grass on the passenger side of the vehicle” I retorted. “ The danger he was intimating was his side arm not traffic.” I added.

Clearly he was taken aback by my calmness non derogatory account the events; my candour of my misconduct (name calling), and the acknowledged courtesy of the officer. I did sense a level of frustration in the Shift Supervisor’s inability to defend his officer to my satisfaction and he finally asked,

“ Ok what is it you wish me to do? I can’t expunge the citations!”

“ I understand that, and even if you could I would want you to, because I wan to go to court and confront him and get on the record his conduct.” I quickly replied.

He became consoling and offered “The judge is in all likelihood our age and will probably have a sympathetic ear and reduce or dismiss the citations.”

“That’s is my hope and expectation, but I now have lost a full half day and will lose another full day as I live some 50 miles from here!” I continued.

“Look” I looking him straight in the eye; “If 98% of us of the general population didn’t obey the laws voluntarily, and respect the job you do, you couldn’t do your job.” I stipulated.

“Look” he said, breaking eye contact, if 98% of you weren’t voluntarily obeying the law I WOULN’T be doing this job!”

Well Officer Xyxyxy’s conduct is making it difficult to respect the job police do, and that’s a shame!” I added. This last statement clearly hit home. So I then went for the home run.

“You asked me what it is I want you to do? If you choose, there are 4 things you can do!” I continued.

  1. “ Ask him, and confirm what I told you was ostensibly correct.
  2. Make you own judgment about his ‘position power’ and his terse confrontational tendencies.
  3. Record my complaint and your interpretation of the event into his conduct file.
  4. Watch his future conduct and keep recording similar tendencies. “ I offered.

“My purpose for taking the time trouble and aggravation of coming to you to lodge this complaint is based on not wanting to see his name on the 6:oo o’clock news tied to a Rodney King like news story where his ‘position power’ totally got out of control. Then you will have a much bigger problem on your hands” I concluded.

We parted with a commitment on his part talk with the officer. I actually believed him. The Shift Supervisor also gave me instruction and directions to the courthouse where I could register my decision to fight the citations.

At the courthouse, I was advised I will be contact with a court date in about 10 months. Wanting my day in court, to confront the officer and get his conduct on the record, that time delay took me aback somewhat.

Fourteen months go by and I suddenly remembered that I had not heard yet from the court. I called the phone numbers on the citation and provided my citation numbers to the clerk. After a long agonizing pause, the clerk came back with a short terse burst

“both citations have been expunged!”

“Why and why haven’t I been advised” I asked in a wining voice.

“Just be thankful it happened and we don’t do that! She quipped and hung up!

I felt so empty. Not thankful. Not gratified that I beat the system. Not relieved of saving the fine. I genuinely felt cheated. I had my Perry Mason routine honed to perfection. I now have to rely on the Shift Supervisor doing his job.~