Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Overheard in the Car:

Sitting in the passenger seat of Roomie's car, heading down 38th Street last night, I had one of those moments that reminds me that my trains of thought don't necessarily run on the same tracks as other peoples'.

We were passing an officer who had pulled someone over in a construction zone with no shoulder, blocking the right-hand lane. Roomie edged as far to the left as she could go to give him room without actually crossing the center line. As she passed him, in that stream-of-consciousness mode which is normal for Roomie driving at night, came...
RX: "God, I hate when people do that. I always turn on the dome light and try and pull off on a side street. The police are real appreciative when you do that, too, but can you imagine how horrible it would be on a busy street like Meridian? One minute the cop's at your door, writing the ticket and then... BAM!"

Me: "I wonder what the state law is on that? Do you have to wait for another officer to come finish your ticket? Or can you just, like, go on home?"

Judging by Roomie's reaction, that was not the first thought on her mind regarding the imagined scenario, nor even the fifth or sixth thought.

Honestly, I wasn't trying to be morbid; I was just kinda curious to know if that was actually codified somewhere.


8Notch said...

I imagine that until they get the dashcam downloaded that you might be in for some rather pointed questions, as surely he would have put your license plate in his onboard computer before walking up. Even if not culpable, I imagine that things would get rather hairy.

WV-tingsd: the sound of a tin badge skipping down the highway like a hubcap.

TBeck said...

An Indiana State Police officer once pulled me over on a busy road and I parked in the median on the left just so he wouldn't be standing in traffic. I got chewed out for me trouble. Since then, I figure they can take their chances.

Jerry said...

While "Bam!" is undefined, one can assume for the sake of argument, that the officer was struck by a passing car. Common courtesy would dictate rendering aid by calling 911 and reporting the incident.

Do not attempt to exit your vehicle unless you can do so safely.

Unless your state has a "Good Samaritan" law, do not attempt to render aid to the officer. If you choose to do so, render any aid carefully as the officer may awake to perceive you as a criminal attempting to rob or assault him.

As to the the traffic ticket, common courtesy of the part of the police department should overlook the uncompleted traffic ticket. In any case, the officer has already called in your license; The department will be able to find you if you left the scene.

Peter said...

Ye Gods and little fishes . . . it's like pulling over Morticia Adams!


Roberta X said...

Pretty much.

...We've lost plenty of police officers to frickin' ijits mowing them down. As it happens, I am not The Best Pal The Police Ever Had but most of them are not jerks and that's just no darn way to go. So I pull off the road if I can.

TBeck: It is considered gauche to have to merge into the fast lane on a divided highway, plus there the other fool-driver problem, the goit who gets hypnotized by the Thrillin' Po-Leece Action and rear-ends Officer Friendly's car. Q: would you rather have him do that at 70 or 55? Remember, you're stopped right in front of O.F.'s ride.

In town, if you can do it in a block or less, pulling off a busy road to a side street is usually okay, if you acknowledge the traffic cop. But it carries the risk of a chewing out (or worse) if it's not VERY clear what you are doing and why.

Anonymous said...

If Officer Friendly did not want to deal with said offender in the construction zone, he should have followed hom until out of the construction zone and then hit the lights.

That said, rolling a cop is probably lots of bad totem. In IL you are supposed to slow down and get as far to the other side as safely possible. I will assume that this includes stopping to allow traffic to clear if needed. I have gotten in the habit of slowing way down when I see the lights ahead. It also allows me to offer assistance in the case of a wreck. In the small county where I live, I know most of the Sheriff Dept and State Troopers in a 2 county area. Most are good guys, even if some are a little full of themselves. They are glad to have a hand with first aid or traffic until every other unit within 50 miles arrives along with the fire dept and ambulances.

WV teracit - "He was sanding next to my window when BAM and ter a cit wonderin what to do..."

McVee said...

Tam- I suffer from a similar thought process at times that I'll find my self thinking thoughts, reviewing in my mind and processing "not for public disclosure"...
Sometimes saying "I'm just curious" or "I'm just playing out scenarios in my head" while my friends give Me that look just does'nt cut it. :)

Robert said...

Seems like every bridge for a 10 mile stretch of I-40 near here is named for an officer that either got mowed down by an inattentive trucker, or shot by a car thief.

Anonymous said...

The last time I tried to reach a sidestreet to pull over, the cop got on his loudspeaker to scream at me to pull over immediately, bogusly claimed I was drunk after I did so and then illegally impounded my car--I never ended up being charged with anything. Ah, that was fun.

Ed Rasimus said...

Texas has a law regarding LE vehicles with lights on: If able move out of the nearest lane, if unable to move out of that lane slow to less than 35 when passing. Works well on highways, not so much in city streets.

Can be scary though. Years ago coming home from late flying on the autostrada (super-highway) in Madrid, a car had stopped left shoulder next to the median barrier. A speeding car came by, hit the driver who had gotten out, amputated his leg immmediately on impact and tossed the body at least 200 feet in the air. The speeder ran off!

I'm real cautious on roadside shoulders since then. LEOs are usually pretty aware but truck drivers not so much.

Tam said...


"Texas has a law regarding LE vehicles with lights on: If able move out of the nearest lane, if unable to move out of that lane slow to less than 35 when passing."

Yup, that law (or a variant thereof) was pushed through practically every state legislature by a national lobbying organization over the last few years.

Sigivald said...

What TBeck said.

Around here, I was a passenger in a stop (just a warning, happily), and the driver pulled off the main street and stopped.

The police officer was adamant (nicely, but adamant) that he wants you to stop where he pulled you over, not on a side street.

If he wants you to go to a side street because he's concerned for his safety, he's got a loudspeaker to tell you.

Anonymous said...

"If he wants you to go to a side street because he's concerned for his safety, he's got a loudspeaker to tell you."

That's my feeling about it. They hit the siren, I hit the hazard lights and start pulling over to the RHS of the street until otherwise advised.

Oh, and keep your hands in sight, move slowly and put the dome light on at night. (rolling down windows so he can see clearly in can be helpful too.) Pulling random cars over is a high stress thing, so lets make officer friendly's night a little less exciting and he might be inclined to be nice.

Or not.

It's not like you really have much in the way of better choices.

Anonymous said...

"As to the the traffic ticket, common courtesy of the part of the police department should overlook the uncompleted traffic ticket." (assuming the worst

There is little doubt in my mind that there are agencies/officers out there that would still proceed with the citation if they could.

Assuming the worst however (officer was struck fatally)everything said officer had done up to that point would be hearsay and inadmissible for the purposes of prosecution (since you would not be able to face your accuser).

NotClauswitz said...

Cops around here make every effort to get the ticketed-car moved to a safe place, including driveways and parking lots and they have a loudspeaker to instruct you - so a pull-over in a high visibility zone is intentional and the Cops fault, not the driver's. And the Cop OWNS the tickets from his ticket-book, and once he starts he has to sign-off that HE'll show in court, and he (or She) has to finish with that - so if it's somehow incomplete, I believe you can continue on your way...

Kristophr said...

Is it wrong that the first thought that popped into my evil head was "Free gun!"?

I think you might want to call an ambulance for the officer before driving off.

Nathan A said...

I always look for a safer place to pull over, more for my safety than the officer's though. The closest I've gotten to being 'chewed out' for not pulling over immediately when rolled was an officer telling me he wasn't sure if I was going to stop or not but he was very glad I hadn't pulled over immediately as there was a fence just next to the road that would have made things rather tight. I had been pulled over for speeding in some podunk desert town (37 in a 25 or something) and that actually turned into a warning.

I bet they'd try to throw something at you if you watched an officer get hit and just drove off.

Anonymous said...

As Jerry mentioned above, it was unclear to me just what that "Bam!" was, and it naturally sent my random possibilities mechanism to spinning...

Considering the discussion venue here, and the now (thankfully) common states that feature about a 50% CCW rate and recognize Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground, I'm surprised no one has mentioned how firearms and road cops' understanding and reaction to them, could lead to just about any scenario being punctuated by a "Bam!"

I would not intentionally leave a cop just doing his/her job in jeopardy, but my overriding concern if I'm stopped is self-interest, so I try to get stopped as fast and safely as possible, flasher on, hands on wheel, and positioned so that the patrol car's front (and therefore its dashcam) are covering the event as it unfolds.

And some counsel against this, figuring the less information and interaction the better, but I always tell the cop first thing, "I'm licensed for concealed firearm carry and there is a firearm in the vehicle (or on me if that is the case)."

Might not prevent some tragic "Bam!" from occurring, but it does lessen the possibility and somewhat C'sYA if the worst happens. But no, Tam, you probably can't cruise on back home if it does.

What? Oh, your "Bam!" was the cop getting offed by an inattentive third-party driver and not an exchange of gunfire with an ill-intentioned and/or ill-advised, ill-trained and ill-equipped officer?

Well then, never mind...


Brad K. said...


I would think 'leaving the scene of an accident' would be the first concern.

Second would be - to not be involved in Officer Friendly being taken out of the picture; some hotshot might posit you were a mob courier and your backup cleared you to make your scheduled drops.

In any case, explanations later would likely be much more stressful than taking care of the 'officer down' situation as amicably as possible.

Ted said...

I also thought of leaving the scene of an accident, except... You weren't in the accident. You're allowed to leave. Get the license number if you can, call 911 if you need to, and then go on home and call in to offer to be a witness.

Ted said...

You should also mention that the officer was below the legal minimum for Indianapolis. Charge him with a DWNI or something.

Jeff said...

Bad blogger, bad, bad blogger. :D

Anonymous said...

Down here in South Carolina the PoPo's make traffic stops in unmarked Crown Vics or Dodge Chargers (THE southern boy's car of choice) that even sport standard issue license plates. I have instructed my daughter that if she gets pulled over by one of these to turn on her four-way flashers, look for a crowded area to pull over, and call 911 and tell them that someone with a blue flashing light is trying to pull her over.

I'm from Ohio and put up for years with the OHP's heavy-handed tactics but at least they always used MARKED cars for traffic stops. To many people (read women) have been assaulted by someone who could find a flashing light that he could plug into his cig lighter.

One last piece of advice for all - if you see a cop behind you don't let him stay there. If slowing down won't get him to pass you right away then get off the road ASAP. The longer he sits there the more chances you have of doing something to offend his sense of right and wrong.

Divemedic said...

Hurry up and get a date in traffic court. If the officer doesn't show up, the ticket is dismissed.

Another officer can't write you a ticket for what the injured officer saw, he can't testify as to what it was you did to earn the ticket.

Justthisguy said...

Concur on that law. We've had it in Flarduh for a while. It pissed me off. Apparently one is required to change lanes and slow down if a cop is harassing someone, but if it's just a private citizen, say, changing a tire, it's ok to zoom right through and knock him flying.

Some animals are more equal than others.

If accosted by the blue-light bullies, I will of course pull off at the first safe place. "Safe", to my mind implies the presence of non-cop witnesses.