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Thursday, February 16, 2012

To Protect and Speed: Cops with Lead Feet

     Nobody likes being pulled over for speeding. It just ruins your day. And I hate it when the cop asks, "Do you know how fast your were going?" If you answer "no," you sound like an idiot. If you answer "yes," you're essentially confessing. Anyway, it really doesn't matter if you knew you were speeding or not because it's an offense that doesn't require criminal intent. (It's what lawyers call a prohibita violation.) One time I had gotten so many speeding tickets I had to pass a written test to hold onto my driver's license. That baby was more difficult than most bar exams. I think I was the only person in the room who passed it. I consider that feat my greatest academic achievement, which says a lot about my history as a scholar. Okay, enough about me.

     The police want us to believe their jobs are extremely dangerous and difficult, you know, war is hell and all of that. But let's face it, besides the good salaries and outstanding benefits (early retirement and generous pensions), there are a lot of advantages to being a cop. Perhaps the greatest joy in law enforcement is that cops don't ticket each other for speeding. They have a license to speed--off-duty, and in their personal vehicles. If I were still teaching, and a criminal justice student asked me why he or she should become a cop, I'd say, "Free speeding!"

Exceeding the Limit in the Sunshine State

     In the state of Florida, police officers, as a group, are the most egregious speeders. A three-month investigation by Sun Sentinel journalists found that 800 cops from a dozen law enforcement agencies were driving 90 to 130 mph to and from work in their take-home patrol cars. Since 99 percent of these officers were not stopped for speeding, how did the newspaper come up with this information? They figured out how fast cops were driving by analyzing state highway toll records. They simply measured the time it took officers to travel from one toll plaza to the next. Moreover, according to the Sun Sentinel investigation, speeding Florida officers, since 2004, have caused 320 vehicular accidents resulting in 19 deaths. Only one of these officers went to jail, and that was for 60 days.

Officer Fausto Lopez

     Last fall, while commuting from his home in Coconut Creek to his job as a police officer with the Miami Police Department, Fausto (or Fasto) Lopez was clocked going 120 mph by a Florida state trooper. The stopped 36-year-old cop offered a familiar explanation for speeding: he was late for work.

     According to an analysis of toll records by Sun Sentinel journalists, officer Lopez is the king of law enforcement speeders. During the year before his October 11, 2011 traffic stop, Lopez averaged 90 mph over a period of 237 days of driving. But don't worry, Lopez's Coral Springs attorney has assured the public that his client is a good driver. Let's hope so. "Certainly," said the lawyer, "he at no time has put any member of the public in any type of danger." Fair enough, but can you see yourself defending a speeding ticket by telling the officer that you are a good driver? Good luck with that. To a police officer, or a judge, driving 90 mph makes you a bad driver. But we are mere civilians, and civilians get speeding tickets handed out by people who are worse drivers than us.  

1 comment:

  1. Usually taxi drivers and cops are worst drivers than us but cops don't get tickets and taxi drivers are proud to call themselves professional drivers....
    The world is upside down and thing are now showing any improvement.
    A friend was accused of careless driving Toronto by a cop that was talking on the phone before stopping him....who's gonna give him a ticket?