Saturday, January 30, 2010

Do me a favor...

If you should ever happen to look in your rear view mirror and see a cop car weaving side to side about two inches from your rear bumper, do me a favor.

Even if the lights and siren aren't on, get the hell out of the way..... that cop is trying to get somewhere, and you're blocking progress.


TheBronze said...


And DON'T slam on your brakes because you freaked out because a cop is RIGHT behind you!

Cleanville Tziabatz said...

Just use the lights and siren. That is what they are for. It helps the public know that you really are going somewhere important and not just being a tool. The last time I got an impatient hand gesture from a policeman in a patrol car I know that he had no real reason to be in a hurry. I know because I saw where he was going and what he did when he got there.

dshiznit00 said...

How about getting out of the way when the lights and sirens are on. That would be a start.

Moe said...

But I've got places to be! No time to stop now.

Front Porch Society said...

I second this!

Texas Ghostrider said...

AMEN! I was on a call out this morning and half the people did not see or hear me until after I have passed them. Yes it is an unmarked but i have headlight flashers, corner strobes, LED in the grill and on the dash. It is amazing how people drive!

Kevin said...

I've got a quick question here. I'm not trying to be funny or sarcastic here, I'm actually honestly looking for an answer. Why would a police officer be driving like that without lights/sirens?

I'm a driver's ed instructor (in the state of Washington, so I won't pretend to know anything about traffic laws in Cali) and I've had this very thing happen to me even while driving around in my work car covered in safe driving stickers. It just seems unsafe not to give drivers some advance warning that it's time to move over. Wouldn't you be able to get through traffic faster anyways by using the lights and sirens?

I have the utmost respect for police officers in all states, and I've been checking in on your blog once a week for about a year now. I have used some of the things I've learned from your and other officers' blogs to help educate my driving students, so please keep posting. If there's anything you'd like to say to a new driver I'd be more than happy to pass it along!

Mad Jack said...

So turn the light bar on, tap the siren or something. That's why we give you these things - not so you can break the law and then bitch about it. Failure to maintain a safe distance, driving without due regard... let's see you pass a sobriety test.

Black Ice said...

I hate that as well. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a citizen rolling along in the hammer lane, completely oblivious to the zillion watts of psychedelic lights three feet behind him.

Now, I can understand not hearing a siren--a well-insulated newer car and a five-figure stereo ensure that you won't hear the siren currently behind you--or anything at all after a few years of cochlear abuse. However, how, exactly, do you miss the light show without being legally blind??

And The Bronze (even though he kills our pride ;> ) has a point, too. Driving 101, folks: When the speed limit is 75 and you're doing 55...odds are that the officer is only wanting you to move aside so s/he can get to whatever emergency s/he's responding to.

(And if s/he's actually pulling you over for blocking the left lane, you deserve it for being a moron, and s/he has my undying gratitude.)

HonkingAntelope said...

And if you ever see a shiny red Mercedes roadster doing the exact same thing behind you and flashing its highbeams while you're obliviously plodding along at 65mph in the fast lane, please move over - you're blocking the progress of a VERY important undercover cop!!! Hehehe :)

The Bus Driver said...

i did this about three days ago when i went to pick someone up at the local community college for transit. Two police cars pulled in the parking lot right behind me and they looked like they were in a hurry (no lights or sirens though), so i quickly pulled over in the parking lot and both cops waved their thanks to me and sped over to the front entrance.

Officer "Smith" said...

Cleanville, dshiznit, Kevin, Mad Jack,

Lights and siren are for EMERGENCY response. I can only lawfully use those when I am responding to an EMERGENCY call.

There are URGENT calls that are not necessarily EMERGENCY calls, but require a prompt response nonetheless.

If people would remove their cranium from their rectum and cast the occasional glance upon their rear view mirror, they would likely see me there and move over. Where I take issue is with the folks whose heads are so firmly implanted in their asses that they pay absolutely no attention whatsoever to the other vehicles on the road around them.

If I have an officer who is out with an individual with a felony warrant, an officer who is out on a house with an alarm sounding and an open door, or perhaps a person calling for help but it is not known exactly what the problem is, I cannot just turn on the lights and tap the siren to get there.

Cyb said...

As a fire fighter, I know how frustrating it can be when people don't get out of the way when I'm rolling lights and sirens.

Likewise, when driving my own car, if I see a police car/ambulance/fire truck approaching quickly without emergency lights, I'll try to pull over and let them pass.

However, if I look back to see one riding "two inches" off my bumper and no lights and sirens, I'm likely to treat them just like any other road rage driver and ease my foot off the gas - I'd rather be rear ended by an idiot at 50 mph than at 65.

There's no reason EVER to be riding two inches off someone's bumper - whether you're running code 3 or not.

HonkingAntelope said...

I won't expect Ofc. Smith to comment on this (lest the response ever end up in the hands of a PI attorney), but some of these policies only serve to protect the department from lawsuits rather than to help the police get their job done and go home safe at the end of the day.

I've seen first-hand the retarded and inexplicable ways in which some people respond to vehicles traveling with lights and siren, which is probably most departments have policies to disallow lights/siren unless it's a real emergency.

But on the other hand, it is really that big of a deal to briefly blip lights and siren when responding to an urgent call and some dumb clod just won't move over or speed up for whatever reason? It may be out of policy, but it doesn't seem like a major violation, and if helps an officer get to the scene faster, it may well prevent a code 2 call from turning into an all-out code 3 affair.

There's a big city in my area, and saw quite a few officers go through red lights at night by stopping at the light, turning on the emergency lights, going through the red light, and turning off the lights after crossing the intersection. Out of policy? Probably. Any irreparable harm done as a result? Probably not...

Officer "Smith" said...

Okay, first of all Cyb, it's called artistic license. We are not LITERALLY two inches off the bumper, maybe we're LITERALLY six or eight FEET from the vehicle ahead of us. That distance is commonly referred to by the driver of the vehicle ahead of us as "two inches".

Secondly, Honking, yes it is such a big deal. If I "briefly hit the lights and blip the siren" and your proverbial "dumb clod" decides to move over and crashes into the proverbial baby carriage, the violation of policy would create HUGE issues. Whereas if the person moved out of my way CAREFULLY because they simply noticed a police car behind them and STILL managed to hit the proverbial baby carriage, it creates much less problem for the officer who was operating WITHIN policy.

Yes, some folks will still take issue with this, and there's not much I can do to assuage the anti-police sentiment those folks hold so dear, but then again this is all my opinion, which is why I'm posting it on MY blog and not my agency's web site.

Cleanville Tziabatz said...

Here is the Catch 22:

- if a police car (with no lights and sirens) were following me at an unsafe distance, I would pull over, and probably pull over in a less than optimally safe manner, to abate the unsafe situation that the police officer created. However, I would not be happy that the police officer decided to create an unsafe situation and would see the police officer as a bad policeman.

On the other hand:

- If the police car (with no lights and sirens) is following at a safe distance, then I am not going to pull over. No reason to. In fact, pulling over in this situation would be technically illegal, unless I could pull into a legal parking, stopping or standing spot.

I think Officer Smith should take his beef to agency management, instead of blaming regular citizens. If the lights and sirens policy is too restrictive for his tastes, then simply convince the agency management to change it. If they will not change it, then simply move to an agency that has a more liberal policy on running code. If no agencies have a policy on running code that would accommodate Officer Smith's preferences, then he should consider changing his preferences.

Police officers speed and tailgate when not running code not because that is within policy, but rather because they know that other police officers will not get them in trouble for it. That is the reality, but it is nothing to be proud of, and it is nothing to try to make regular citizen drivers feel ashamed about if they don't want to help in the quest to operate outside of agency policy. that is my opinion anyway

Mad Jack said...

Lights and siren are for EMERGENCY response. I can only lawfully use those when I am responding to an EMERGENCY call.

Ah-Ha! It would appear that the law must be changed so as to provide for use of lights and siren at the discretion of the officer driving the vehicle.

I suppose I'll begin by writing my Elected State Critters and see how they respond. I'm not holding my breath on this one, but I fail to see how we, the mere civilians, can give someone the authority to enforce the law without having enough confidence in them to not abuse their lights and siren. Seems foolish to me.

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Officer "Smith",

Thank you for your explanation!

While I try to be a safe driver and generally let people who want to be reckless and radar-bait zoom past me, this actually really helped clear years of ill-feeling toward police who seemed to be driving recklessly. I'm afraid my driver's ed responded "Why was the cop suddenly three feet off my bumper and weaving?" with "Well, police are used to going fast and disregarding the law at all times with their lights and sirens, so they think they should be able to even when it's not an emergency." I never thought to question my training til now.

While I'm willing to grant that not all police are perfect, your explanation makes a heck of a lot more sense, and makes us both able to interact (read: I'll still get out of the way as soon as safe and practical) with a lot less ill will.