A Fine Line Between Honest and Stupid

by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

In yet another episode of “Cops Behaving Badly”, we have Officer Gracie of the LAPD giving citizen 34 year old Chris Jackson of Venice, California, a ticket, allegedly for “riding on the wrong side of the bike path” after Jackson complained about the officer’s motorcycle blocking the bike path. The “officer” at first claims the ticket is for riding on the wrong side of the bike path. When challenged by Jackson that 1) he was passing on a dashed line and 2) that he knew of no law covering unsafe passing on the bike lane, the real reason Jackson was being ticketed came out.

He was being ticketed for disagreeing with the officer.

When faced with a challenge from both Jackson and several citizens, he then escalates the reason for the ticket to speeding under California Vehicle Code 22350. There is a problem with that as well.  Ca. VC 22350 reads “No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property.” [emphasis added] Undeterred by logic, citizen complaint, being told he was being recorded for the purposes of posting to YouTube or his inability to cite an applicable California statute, Officer Gracie bulldogs ahead to write his ticket insisting that he’d be perfectly happy to write more tickets all the while ignoring people both doing what Jackson allegedly did and worse (such as walking and roller-blading on the bike path).

Jackson was supposed to be in court yesterday, Friday, January 18, 2013. However, LAPD Spokesman Detective Gus Villanueva of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Section said that the “ticket had been canceled in the interest of justice.” He also said the department is conducing a personnel investigation into the conduct of the officer involved (sure they are) and would not comment further.

There is certainly a line being crossed here, but it isn’t a solid yellow line.

What do you think?

Source(s): NBC, Ca. VC § 22350

~submitted by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

67 thoughts on “A Fine Line Between Honest and Stupid”

  1. Idealist asked:
    Great that some states have it. How does it play out over time? Are traffic infractions growing, police ulcers increasing, infractors less sassy???
    The process in WA with regard to infractions started sometime before 1984 and only had two important revisions. (one was to seperate the criminal citation and infraction notice which were a combined form previously and the other was where the signature was no longer required) Other than those two it was the same for more than 25 years. Nothing really changed as far as how many infractions were issued.

    A significant change to the number of infractions probably (though I don’t have stats to back this up, only observations) happened just after the signature requirement was lifted to help enable electronic ticket writing.

    Our department adopted electronic ticketing a few years ago. Essentially what it was was a software program in the in-car computer that would scan a driver license and was integrated with both the Department of Licensing and the court systems. All one had to do was scan the driver license, and type in the license plate and the software pre-filled in the information and all the officer had to do is add the charges, location etc. It was greatly faster for most officers than the 25+ year old method of writing the infraction on a multi-copy paper form.

    Most deputies who cared wanted the electronic system in their cars and it was given to them. When they got this installed they wrote greatly more tickets / infractions than they had before. The most compelling reason it was faster and easier. It turned out that a factor of whether an officer decided to hand out a ticket to someone was whether or not the officer felt the violation was worthwhile enough to spend the time writing out the ticket. The new electronic system eliminated that factor and a LOT more tickets were issued.

    I did not use the electronic system because I did not write enough infractions to justify the cost in my mind so I just used the paper ones. Generally the only infractions I wrote were Driving Without a License (with ID available), Failure to Provide Proof of Liability Insurance, Parking in a Handicapped Parking Zone Without Permit, and Speeding 20+ mph over limit. I gave warnings to people probably 95% of the time with the exception of the above or criminal violations which I almost always wrote them up at least.

    Of course I saw the value in pulling people over and giving them a warning, and I did this often, but except for the 20+ speeding and insurance issues I did not like writing people tickets. So when the electronic system came out, I feared that people would be written up a lot more and unfortunately I was right.

    But the worst abuse in my view came out when the legislature recently allowed speeding cameras to be installed and enforced. See RCW 46.63.170 . These are turning out to be cash cows for local and state governments. My wife told me recently, thought I have not been able to find the article to show you here, that one camera in a school zone racked up $100,000 in fines in one month alone. This is totally preposterous in my book. Consider this.

    Few officers spend the time waiting around school zones to nick people speeding, even fewer official directives from LEA management tell officers to go sit on a school zone all day and nick drivers for speeding. But, when the money printing press of the speed measuring traffic camera comes out some cities jumped in with great enthusiasm. Of course they knew there would be a backlash form the public (which hates these cameras) if they put it on regular streets. So they went with the ever popular “Save the Children” kick and then put them in school zones because it would sell better with the public for PR reasons and it would rake in just as much money.

    I can tell you all from absolute certainty that the biggest reason for speed measuring cameras is by far revenue generation. Why? because if you asked the city gov’t to budget 50 thousand dollars to hire an officer who’s sole job is to do speed enforcement in school zones the city council would have laughed you out of the town hall. But when a proposal hits the city council to spend the same amount of money to install a revenue agent atomaton known as a speed measuring traffic camera they do everything they can to put it into law. But as they say, it’s not about getting money, it’s to “Save The Children”(tm).

    So after this long winded expanation the easier it is made to write people up for infractions, the more infractions will be issued. I hope more of these are not installed, I don’t want big brother as a back seat driver.

  2. Bike path. If I behave like that in the work place, I get the boot. This officer is burned out. He will shoot someone. There are plenty young men and women that would love to have that job. He makes me hate cops.

  3. Blouise 1, January 20, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    Thanks ap, I couldn’t get Chris’ video to work from the link he posted.


    I couldn’t either, Blouise. (I was on my way out the door this morning and posted it, without an explanation, for lack of time.)

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