As you might know – I was a 17 year regular with the LAPD. No, I’m not shy. For 13 of those 17 years I worked the LAPD’s Motor Squad. Some of the best years of my life were spend astride of a two-wheeled, Black and White Police Motorcycle.
Every single Motor Cop is an expert at speed estimation. All are also experts in the operation of Radar and Laser. There is a HUGE amount of training that goes into being a Motor. In fact, the Motor School has a very High attrition rate (projected 60% wash out rate in some Motor Schools.
The Riding portion is the hardest part. “Safety” is preached because a Motor Cop does not have the benefit of being surrounding with Steel, Airbags and Seat belts. Actually, while riding, they are surrounded with Steel, Concrete and Asphalt – and as any Motor Cop can tell you, the asphalt is like sand paper when you are sliding across it after a Crash – Been there, have the scars minus the t-shirt 🙁
The old saying goes like this, “There are two kinds of Motor Cops – Those that have been down and those that are going down.” Personally I have 4 DR(report) numbers associated with my employment history. That is 4 crashes – one was my “alive day” August 12, 1994 – for the other 3 – I remained conscious with nominal injuries.
The Meat: When I was working enforcement we were given a Goal – not a Quota – The supervisors would maintain that we kept appraised of the “watch average”, with regard to numbers of citations that were written. As long as we were in that neighborhood – we were kept out of the fire.
For those of you that want to scream, “FOUL”. I would say that there is no lack of traffic violators in Los Angeles. Nothing had to be created or manufactured and most of the citations written were for Speeding.
Foul 2 you say? We wrote “unsafe speed” not unlike the CHP. However the CHP- which writes most of their citations for you breaking yourself against the speed limit, 22349V.C. – 66 in a 65 is good enough (usually there is much more grace given – but that is the difference in speeding on public street versus a Highway. Speeding on a Public Street usually equals being at a speed so great, determined by current roadway conditions, where a reasonable person would consider it Unsafe – AKA The Basic Speed Law, 22350V.C.
Foul 2 continued – Our citations usually started at 15 mph over the posted speed limit – there are a lot of other requirements that have to be met for a Police Officer to Utilize Radar/Laser on a public street. They cannot go to a street of their choosing. In fact, the department wants a majority of citations written on the Top 20 streets (these are the streets that have the highest reported incidents of Traffic Collisions where Injuries were reported.
We were also tasked with needing to know the 5 major causes of Traffic Collisions. These Violations are Pedestrian violations, speeding, turning violations, Driving under the influence and Red Light Infractions.
So, if at the end of the day, you came in with the Watch Average – With Citations having been written on the top twenty streets and had a majority of citations for the top 5 causes of Traffic Collisions – you were good.
To get yourself out of a citation – Not an absolute – but the one thing that made it so much harder for me to write a violator a citation was…… (drum roll pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee)
Honesty. – Yes, that is it, being honest. I am not chasing motorists down on a busy street for fun. In fact, if you do the math – someone is traveling at 50 mph in a 35 mph zone – I estimated their speed – I utilized Laser and locked their specific’s vehicle speed into the device – my Laser was calibrated and functioning within spec’s – I make a mental note of the violator’s vehicle – I clear traffic and leave the curbside, drive way, or from behind the thick shrubbery with a hole so the violators cannot see me 🙂
They are usually still at 50 mph, often times they are speeding up. Can I catch them if I go 35mph? We had to at least get to their speed and hope for a red light or traffic to slow in front of them.
The violator pulls over. I approach, I have my introduction, the reason why I stopped them, asked if there was any “legal justification” for their speed (I don’t know if there is an actual answer to the Legal Justification question) – I waited for the response and then asked for their drivers license, registration and proof of insurance. After viewing their documents, I would state my decision. 90% of the time it was, “I am going to issue you a citation for driving 50 mph in a 35 mph zone, which was unsafe due to the pedestrians, schools and because it was during the hours of dusk and you were driving into the sun…” “Stay in your vehicle, I’ll be back in just a moment…”
ATTENTION: When you are asked, “Where’s the fire… What is the hurry… Are you late… Is there an emergency???” – that is your chance to engage the officer, deputy or highway patrol officer with your plea.
I found that in the majority of people that I let go, only 10%, their common threads were of the design of, “I know I was driving too fast – I’m sorry, I need to pay more attention, My son just called from school, I just found out My husband is with another woman(right now…), or I just found out my wife is cheating on me and I know where she is…” <———- Just a few – there were many more – but these were so brutally honest on the face – I could not continue with the “citation” way of enforcement and decided to go the “education” route.
How did the 90% respond to me pulling them over after my opening presentation? “Don’t you have anything better to do, I pay your salary, There are people dealing drugs and you are pulling me over, There are murderers running around the streets loose, You can’t hide like you were, I hope you crash, Your wife must be proud, What – no fresh donuts this morning, How about we settle this later (usually an attractive female), Officer – you dropped this ($100.00 bill)?????????”
Step up and watch your speed gauge – Paris says that I drive like “driving Mrs. Daisy”. I remained a Reserve Officer, I don’t need the time burned up that is required by being pulled over for something I should have had control of.
What are your “getting pulled over” stories? Does any of this ring true to you? Please comment below – Share your “that A@#$ole pulled me over” stories.