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Lots of press about cops these days. Lots of bad press. I have to say, I’m pretty critical of a lot of what I see going on with law enforcement for sure. Lots of cops being way the hell too heavy-handed when it comes to use of force. I see it as just another example of their regular unwillingness to yield their authority in any way. I mean, while cops have a lot of power and authority (not to mention guns and so on), it doesn’t mean they always have to use it like a fucking club to beat your ass with.

 

Take for example the lowly speeding ticket. Cops write speeding tickets all the time, right? BUT in their discretion, they can write you up or not for a speeding violation. I mean, if they want to give you a speeding ticket, they can, but they can also make it a warning ticket or call it another kind of charge like a city code violation or whatever. They don’t always need to write you up for speeding and give you a speeding ticket.

 

My boy’s gotta pee!

I’ve got a short story with a happy ending that shows you a cop being cool. So, there I was, rush hour traffic in the middle of town trying to get my nine year old home before his bladder busts. Yeah I’m weaving, yeah I’m dodging, yeah I’m driving too fast. But I mean hey, my boy’s gotta pee! Ok. So here I come up to this traffic light right? And I can see from a good distance that it’s gone yellow and stayed yellow for a while and here I am like a mile off and hauling ass. You see where this is going. Now usually there’s a couple seconds before the OTHER light turns green for crossing traffic and, because I have a pretty clear view of both sides (L and R) at the light, I make a decision (yes stupid) to run the light. Now, just to be clear: I never would have done it if my kid didn’t have to pee so bad or if I could not see for sure both ways that there was no conflicting traffic. And I don’t condone this by any means. BUT…. I down shifted once and let her rip. I mean, it’s take the chance or my kid gets pee all over himself right?

 

Well, just like you knew would happen, there’s a good old Raleigh cop sitting across the intersection in an unmarked car. Just as I pass under the red light I look in my rearview; shit, here he comes. I haven’t gotten a quarter mile down the road when I jam the brakes and go on and pull over. He pulls in behind me all his lights on (but no siren oddly). I do the “good guy routine”; ignition off, keys on dash, hands on wheel, window down. He walks up.

“Hey buddy!” he says. “You know how fast you were going?” (Interesting that he’s not talking about the red light).

“Officer.” I said, “I was hauling ass” (I said that!) “I know. It must have been like 60 in a 45 zone. I know it. I am really sorry.”

“Well,” he says, “…can I see your license and registration?”

I tell him I have to get the registration out of the glove box and can I reach for it and so on (cops don’t like you reaching for the box unless you tell them what you’re doing!). He looks over at Terence IV who’s got a very strange look on his face.

“Hey buddy!” he says (calls everyone buddy). “How you doin’?”

“Officer,” I said. “I never do this. Really. Please look at my record.” (which he can do with his magic computer gizmo in his squad car). “I have a good record going back 35 years. I was going fast because my son here has to pee really really bad and I was trying to make it to the Burger King up the road there before we have an embarrassing little incident.” I really didn’t think he would give a damn.

“Oh no” he says. “That’s no good.” He look over at my son “Gotta pee?” T Bone (we call my son T Bone) looks at him with the most pitiful look a nine-year old kid can have.

“Yes sir” he says, “really really bad….”

The cop smiles. “I got me a little boy too. I can’t tell you how many times I gotta stop for him when we’re on trips. “Tell you what.” he continues, “Y’all just go on up to the Burger King and we’ll just meet there. I don’t want to make things worse on you.”

I am absolutely amazed. I pull away promising to drive safe and slow.

At the BK now. Terence IV goes to the bathroom and I watch as the cop pulls in the space next to me. T is just getting back in the car. Cop looks down at us.

“You ok now?” Don’t know whether that’s for me or my boy.We both answer at the same time:

“Yessir.” He chuckles a little.

“Well, Mr. McEnally, I really ought to write you a speeding ticket right now. I clocked you at 65 in a 45 zone. Just so happens I had my radar on when you passed through the intersection. But I’ll tell you what. If you promise to be careful and be a little more cautious, I’ll just make it a warning ticket.”

Wow! This guy’s gonna give me a break. He goes back to his car with my license and registration. My son and I stare at each other in confused silence. About ten minutes later (felt like an hour) here comes the guy again not with a speeding ticket but with a warning ticket.

“Here you go.” he says. “Just be careful.” He hands me my license and registration along with the warning ticket and turns to go.

“Officer” I call to him. “Thanks again!”

“No problem, Mr. McEnally” he says. “Just slow down.”

He gets back to his cruiser and turns off all the lights and so on and pulls away. Still amazed, my son and I sit there for another minute or more just talking about our good fortune.

 

We need more cops like this one

Now, what I said at the beginning is still true. BY and large I believe cops over-use their authority, all too often with tragic consequences. And while I know that a little bit of kindness and understanding with a little speeding ticket doesn’t redeem all cops everywhere for all the bullshit that the bad ones do, my take away is this: this guy, at this moment, in this occasion, treated me with respect and a real human understanding. He could have busted my ass, but he didn’t. We need some more like this. 

If you got a ticket instead of a warning, and need a lawyer to look into it, upload your case now. 

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