New Jersey Officer’s “Brake Checking” Incident Causes Uproar

Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 8.38.39 AMThere is a controversy in New Jersey over the practice of “brake checking” where a police officer stops suddenly in front of a car that he thinks is following too closely. The problem is that the videotape below does not show Clinton resident Omar B. following too closely when Officer Juan Velez slams on the brakes. Nevertheless, the driver is hit with a slew of tickets, including tailgating.

What is notable about the videotape is that it highlights the inherent danger to brake checking where a driver could easily slam into the cruiser or veer into another car. In this case, the officer stopped next to a parked car.

Velez is now under investigation. Velez admits on the tape that he braked because the driver was driving behind him too closely. Even though the car appears to be traveling at a speed between 22 and 29 mph, Velez tells the driver he “braked because I thought you were going to run into me.”

Velez issued three summonses for lack of a front license plate, tailgating and tinted windows. The video struck a cord with motorists who feel that officers arbitrarily hit drivers with these types of citations, particularly if they are ticked or view the drivers as uncooperative. News accounts state for example that 47,000 motorists were given tickets for the tint on their windows last year.

26 thoughts on “New Jersey Officer’s “Brake Checking” Incident Causes Uproar”

  1. I’ve brake checked a number of Highway Patrol and Sheriff’s Deputies.

    Too many times have they tailgated (a car length…maybe…at speed …no lights) somebody who will then have an adrenaline hit and often does something stupid.

  2. My opinion is the officer should face discipline for his actions and the following too closely charge will be vacated by the court. It is apparent from the video the defendant was not following too closely as he did not hit the officer’s car when faced with sudden braking.

    This has a number of problems. The most striking is the deliberate “brake check”. It is not a function of law enforcement to deliberately and unnecessarily put persons or people in jeopardy to enforce a traffic law. Beyond that I have maintained, though many in the profession disagree, that brake checking constitutes either Negligent or Reckless Driving depending on speed.

    Aside from that I find it odd that an officer claims he brake checked due to the hazard of the defendant following him too closely, yet, he also initiates a traffic stop in risky fashion–that is causing a traffic stop from the front of the stopped vehicle. The proper manner is to drive to the side of the road and allow the vehicle to pass before stopping it. In this case it could easily have been performed by the officer as there was ample opportunity to do so. Moreover the tenet of protecting the scene is broken by remaining in the travelled portion of the roadway. When being in the travelled portion, and not on the side of the roadway, the chance of another vehicle deep-trunking you is much higher and it is a risk for a head-on collision when cars begin passing the scene. Here, the officer placed the defendant at a higher risk because his vehicle was not behind the defendant vehicle. If a rear-end collision resulted the patrol car (an expendable item) is sacrificed to protect the defendant’s vehicle and those involved. But instead the officer put the defendant at further risk.

  3. This is merely a random and capricious tax enforced by a petty authority.

    Like the TSA, the stop here serves no public safety purpose, it’s just theater to rub your nose in the fact that the cop/TSA is dominant over you, and to raise money doing it.

    So kiss that ring and hand over the cash.

  4. Driver was not tailgating. He stopped with room to spare. Cop is putting others, and himself, in danger and should be receive remedial training. If it happens again, he is untrainable and should be fired.

  5. While many cops are not qualified to do much else for a living and carry too much authority to abuse the citizenry, the real culprit is the system itself. Judges, cops and prisons are really a cooperative effort to raise as much money as possible.

  6. Nick, stop hating on cops!

    Paul, considering the ultimate powers we have given cops, a recommendation is obligation when it suits them, and they are empowered to determine when it suits them.

  7. Folks, it’s the 2nd law of physics. To wit, “An object in motion shall remain in motion until it encounters a force equal and opposite to the object’s momentum.”

    The recommended distance between moving vehicles is 2 seconds. That is, there should be a gap equal to the distance your car travels in 2 seconds. Speed doesn’t matter as you’re measuring the distance in time.

  8. If someone did rear end this loser he would sue for whiplash.

  9. Officer Juan Velez should be investigated for inciting a road rage incident.

  10. @Steg: Right. If a driver is too close, hitting your brakes is the worst possible you can do. The only reasonable thing to do is change lanes, or pull to the curb to let him by. In the cop’s case, if he wanted to issue a ticket for following too close he should have turned on his flashing lights and slowed gradually.

    California vehicle code 21703 requires you to “leave a safe distance between you and the car in front of you.” That distance is not spelled out and is left to the judgement of the officer and, if needed, the judge in court.

    1. Bill H – I have driven on CA freeways. NO ONE leaves a safe distance between cars. They are bumper to bumper going 75 mph in the HOV lane.

  11. Revenues are down in Clinton where cops have too big an ego. Bringing in a backup was pure harassment.

    As Paul noted, I thought following distances are recommendations only. From the video, it looked to me like the driver satisfied the two-second rule, which is the one I use.

  12. Cop should take high school physics refresher. IF you’re afraid the vehicle behind you is NOT going to stop- you do not want to brake. You want to ACCELERATE to minimize the force of the impact and if possible (like it was at this speed) avoid the accident.

    Will save you some achin’ in the morning.

  13. The driver was too close, especially, just before the brake-check.

    That doesn’t excuse the brake-check, though.

  14. True but funny story:

    Years ago a Virgina State Trooper wasn’t paying attention and ran into the back of my car. We both got out and the trooper apologized, but since the troopers’ cars have spring-loaded push bumpers it didn’t do any serious damage to my car.

    I never filed a police report or issued a citizen arrest.

  15. Cops want to be respected? Then earn that respect.

    Officer provoked the whole incident – doesn’t deserve to be an officer.

    Not enough to dismiss the charges – the aggravation and time wasted can’t be made right by the state just dropping the issue.

  16. He deliberately tried to CAUSE an accident by braking rapidly. At 20 mph, 2 car lengths is enough to provide a space cushion. Good thing the driver was alert, paying attention,and not texting or looking at his GPS. In this case, the driver needed the space due to the officer’s unnecessary and unsafe braking. This type of shit happens and local gevernments benefit from the income. How do you put a stop to it? Officer should be disciplined for unsafe driving.

  17. It’s also a Title 18 federal crime for police officers to violate the 14th Amendment rights of citizens. Sounds like this tactic could sometimes be used for this type of public corruption.

    That’s where the officer has a beef with a citizen and targets a particular citizen for extra special enforcement or police stalking. If it involves more than one officer (on or off duty) it is a Title 18 criminal conspiracy. For example: criminal conspiracy of multiple officers and/or in concert with a state Fusion Center. There are other federal statutes that cover a “pattern & practice” of corruption also.

    Any driver being stalked by police and harassed can contact the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ or the ACLU affiliate in your state.

  18. Cop should be brake-checked to unemployment. Nothing better to do, apparently.

  19. The cop talks about 2 car lengths for a safe driving distance. On that basis alone if I were a judge I would throw out the ticket, all tickets. Safe car distances are no longer determined by car length. They are now determined by seconds. One must leave 3 seconds between cars, not a varying number of car lengths. As the cop mentioned car lengths, he revealed that he was relying on an old standard no longer used. Case dismissed against the driver. The cop must enter officer training.

    1. I always thought that the distance between cars was a recommendation, not a law.

  20. You are only following to closely when you hit them. This is just a case of jacking up the number of tickets for the quota they will deny they have.

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