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Cooperate during traffic stops

Posted: February 5, 2012 - 1:00am  |  Updated: February 5, 2012 - 6:16am

This has been a frightening, devastating time for police officers in our community.

Richmond County Deputy J.D. Paugh was shot and killed last October. Aiken Public Safety Master Officer Scotty Richardson was killed in December. Then, just a few days ago, Aiken Master Cpl. Sandy Rogers was shot and killed.

Deaths of police officers in our community typically are rare. This tragic trio has made their jobs seem all the more dangerous.

Keep in mind: These deaths didn’t come during what the officers thought were takedowns of violent criminals, or raids on meth labs. All of these officers were shot and killed during traffic stops or while checking out suspicious vehicles, a seemingly “routine” part of their jobs.

But there’s nothing “routine” about it. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, more than 150 officers died during traffic stops in the past decade.

It wouldn’t hurt all of us to remember those statistics, and the recent deaths of our local heroes, the next time any of us is unlucky enough to get pulled over.

If a cop gives you a ticket, it isn’t because he wants to hassle you. And it certainly isn’t because he wants to put his life in danger.

If you get pulled over, it’s probably because you broke a law. Be respectful and take your ticket. Want to fight? Go to court.

While you’re there, you’ll see all manner of people just like you. Most are law-abiding people who just slipped up. It happens. Judges know that, and treat people in their courts accordingly.

Judges also often ask the officer if the person pulled over was cooperative. Keep that in mind if you decide to compound your bad day by acting like a jerk to the cop: He’s trained to take the verbal abuse without letting it escalate – and he’ll happily relate your behavior to the judge.

Our law enforcement officers have a tough enough job, and with these deaths among their colleagues, it’s understandable if they’re all on a state of high alert. Make their job easier by meticulously obeying the law, including traffic laws. And if you slip up? Take your ticket – and thank them for their service.

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Comments (5)

Riverman1

But...

Sure, we abhore officers being killed and admire their service, but to suggest someone disputing a ticket vociferously, but civilly, should be penalized in court is not right. The facts of the traffic stop should not be influenced by the motorist relating strongly his side to the officer.

The judge would be amiss to use that as part of his decision making. Basing a judgment of guilt on the opinion of the officer concerning the behavior of the person is not how it's done in America. By the way, no tickets on my driving record.

Little Lamb

Perspective

Publishing a single factoid and trying to draw conclusions from it is not useful. The 150 officer deaths at traffic stops in the past decade needs to be put in perspective by listing the total number of traffic stops in that decade. And we need to know how many of the 150 were violent deaths versus accidental deaths. When we consider the total picture, we will see that 150 is a number to be reasonably expected.

ccnt

Proper perspective

The proper perspective is that deaths at traffic stops are the most common cause of deaths among police officers. Thus, the public should not make the assumption that traffic stops are "routine," especially after the deaths of three local officers during traffic stops.

Riverman1: The behavior of the person accused is considered during sentencing, not during the trial phase. It isn't a factor in determining guilt or innocence, but if a person is found guilty, the judge then typically asks the officer about the details of the stop before pronouncing a sentence.

Riverman1

Another Perspective

Oh, I have no doubt that the judge is considering what the officer relays to him before anouncing a verdict. The officer is able to get across his opinion in many ways before the judge announces his decision. You imply the officer's report of the person's attitude being respectful or not is officially considered before the sentence, meaning it may be a tougher penalty if the person argued with the officer.

I repeat as long as the individual is not being abusive to the degree he/she is breaking the law, his comments should have no bearing on the judge's decision of guilt or sentencing. I don't know how YOU were with the officer when you decided to fight YOUR ticket in court, but I'd hope you respectfully and firmly told the officer he was wrong. It would seem disingenuous to thank him and then go to court as you did.

Riverman1

Let's Try This Again

If I'm stopped by an officer for running through a school zone or something and I'm wrong, I'm not saying anything except I'm sorry and paying the ticket. However, if I am stopped and I am not in the wrong, expect me to throw words at the officer like I'm writing an angry comment in the newspaper while staying within the TOS. If my being right and saying I'm right is going to be penalized to a greater degree than simply taking the ticket silently, so be it. Something ain't right.

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