Sunday, September 13, 2009

Professional Courtesy...

For those of you who are uninformed, so called "professional courtesy" is when a police officer stops a car for some traffic violation and determines the driver of that vehicle is also a police officer, firefighter, nurse, whatever. The officer can decide not to issue the other officer a citation, just as he or she can decide not to issue ANY OTHER DRIVER a citation.

Different people have different takes on "professional courtesy". Some people think we shouldn't do it. Others think we should for whatever reason. Maybe it's because we already have enough shit to deal with on a daily basis. Maybe it's because they think we're better trained to deal with driving a vehicle. Whatever.

As I have stated in a much earlier post, I have never cited a cop. Yet. That's not to say I never would. I have come really damned close a time or two. If you come off at me with some superior attitude, like flipping your badge out the window at me without so much as a hello, or asking me "Don't you know who I AM?!", we're going to discuss issues. If I don't think you're understanding my point for stopping you, I'll do what I do with any other citizen who acts like that. I'll stub you.

I haven't done it yet.

For the record, I have never been stopped since I became a police officer. I have been stopped three times in my life, and only got a ticket the first time.

Before the cop bashers start in... NO, I do not have any "blue line" stickers, 11-99 Foundation license plate frames, or any other such "codes" on the back of my truck to signify my profession. Anyone who looks at my truck will see just another driver on the road.

The reason I haven't been stopped is this. I don't try to dress like a thug, and I DON'T DRIVE LIKE A JACKASS! That's right. I have never been pulled over because I signal my lane changes, drive just a few miles over the speed limit, STOP for stop signs, don't roll in the carpool lane when I'm solo, and just generally try to obey the laws that I cite other people for disobeying.

So for those people who believe ALL DRIVERS should get warnings, and NOBODY should get citations, I have a SURE FIRE WAY for you to avoid getting stopped, and/or cited.

Just follow these few simple rules...

1. DON'T DRIVE LIKE A JACKASS! If you don't do things to get yourself stopped, guess what. You won't get stopped! (I know. Sounds pretty easy doesn't it...)

2. Don't dress like a hood-rat and ride around with your music set to top volume.

3. Don't mad dog the cops when we drive by. This is sure to get you some unwanted attention.

4. Finally, be responsible for your own actions. If you believe you are going to get cited for speeding, DON'T SPEED.

I know it sounds overly simplified, but hey...

If my first grader can understand it, you can too!

28 comments:

The Dispatcher and Her Officer said...

I do everything you say!! And totally agree.. Except - there are times my radio station plays a song I just have to crank up loud and sing with.. I will gladly take that ticket if it ever comes! Its usually on my way home.. Singing to KLOVE.. getting rid of the citizens troubles...

But I am prepared to accept that ticket with a smile and a thank you!!
-Dispatcher

MJ said...

Ok, so I'm pretty sure I don't do it; I try to be respectful of law enforcement in general, but what is "mad dogging"?

The Pup said...

When I was younger, I used to speed. I'd like to say 'safely', but I know there's no such thing as 'safe speeding'. I've never driven under the influence. I've always obeyed signaling laws, stop signs, etc., etc.. Then I decided that what I really want to do in life is law enforcement. Since then, I've kept my speed down (even on those long, lovely, curvy stretches in the early hours of the morning when no one's around but the deer - used to love those). It really is easy not to get stopped. I've never been stopped, and I hope not to be. I am, however, completely amazed at people who are shocked and surprised and angry at officers when they get stopped for pulling stupid stunts on the road.

*Goddess* said...

I have to admit, the idea of professional courtesy has always kind of rubbed me the wrong way. Reason being, you guys cite us and lecture us for speeding, etc. and yet other cops off for doing it when they should know better than any of us what can happen when your drive excessively fast.

Take the state trooper in Ohio who was going 145 mph. He was able to keep his license to drive to work and was able to work as a trooper. How can he in good conscience cite someone for going ten and twenty miles over the speed limit when he went 145? It just doesn't seem fair.

Other than that, you guys are A-OK in my book...lol!

fuzzys dad said...

Amen

OrdinaryLife said...

Professional courtesy has a time and place....but an officer should not expect to receive it when he/she has broken the law (i.e. doing whatever it was that made you pull them over!).
My husband is an LEO, and I do admit to having a Sheriff's Association sticker on my car. But our community is so small, that everyone knows who I am anyway, so I watch how I drive. If I am so visible to the world (as I have learned that I am now!) I need to make sure I am setting the example.
On the other hand, the receptionist at our agency (an older woman....much older) always gives the officer pulling her over her agency ID (made for her back in the good old days) along with her license. And most of the time, she gets out of a ticket. Which is not good, since she gets pulled over at least once a month! But she expects to be let off the hook, and usually is. I can't even imagine doing that!

Capt. Schmoe said...

Chris Rock made a great video called "How not to get your ass kicked by the po-lice" Many of the points you brought up are discussed. It should be required viewing in high school.

Isaac said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uj0mtxXEGE8

Commchick said...

I am a dispatcher and got pulled over on my way home from work one night. I hadn't been living in that area long, and was not familiar with the speed limit. I think I was going about 10 miles over the limit at the time. The deputy was from my agency but was fairly new and did not know me. I did not tell him who I was, but the dispatchers at work saw who I was when he ran my tag and called him on his cell phone to fuss at him for pulling me over. He asked me why I didn't tell him who I was, and I advised him that I knew I was speeding and was not going to ask for a special favor just because we work together. He didn't give me a ticket and told me to slow down. To this day, I always make sure to watch my speed when I'm going home from work.

Roy in Calif said...

During my 35 years as a dispatcher for a small agency, I was never pulled over. I attribute it to two reasons:

1) Small area, high visibility. I was recognizable and known as PD employee. I figured that if the police (and their employees) didn't follow the law, who else could be expected to?

2) For CHP, "professional courtesy" became rare after the mid-60's when Gov. Reagan's CHP driver was cited for speeding while transporting the governor to a meeting.

Texas Ghostrider said...

I have stopped LE officers before and to date I have never wrote them. I have stopped girlfriends and such who flash the "badge" an such and I have wrote them. The LE's that I have stopped were not doing anything excessive So why write? I write about half my stops warnings anyway. My department does not get revenue from citations so we are "required" to write any. The chief says if a warning will get compliance then do it, if a VERBAL will get compliance then do it. Most officers a VERBAL will do, One day if it does not then yeah, I will write a cop, but till then I am looking for compliance.

Flying Tiger said...

I too, have not cited a brother cop yet. That is not to say that I would not though, but they would REALLY have to piss me off in order to do so.

I have been pulled over twice since becoming an officer, both times I was let go. My plates and license are confidential, I never said a word about being an officer.

With that being said, if I were to be cited, and I knew I fucked up, I can't get mad at another officer for doing his/her job. God knows enough assholes get mad at me for doing my job.

What grinds my gears is, I give out TONS AND TONS of warnings. I am not a huge ticket writer, but for a righteous mover, I will cite. I mostly use my traffic stops to fish for other shit. I don't think people realize how many stops we do on a daily basis, and how many people get off with only warnings.

Oh yeah, and then there are the assholes that you stop for a really good mover, and they'll also have a minor mechanical violation too. So, you try to be a nice guy and give them a verbal warning for the mover (so they won't get any points on their license) and just give them a fix-it ticket for a mechanical, and they STILL get mad at you. Most people do not realize when they're actually getting a break..........

Be safe out there.

Tigger said...

I just read an article the other day on PoliceOne about professional courtesy. It was an interesting read and stirred up quite a conversation between my LEO husband and I. No matter what your profession, there is to some extent a brotherhood between its members. So it is understandable that law enforcement extends professional courtesy to their own.

the observer said...

Awesome driving rules. On my driving record since 2001, I have one speeding ticket and 2 tickets for driving around with out of date registration. That is all. I follow your rules pretty consistantly and stay out of trouble on the road. As for professional courtesy, I always figured that a cop has descretion about giving tickets. One time, when I was younger and more foolish, I went through an "orange" light--yellow, very close to red, maybe even red. I argued with the cop. I really should have received a ticket that day, but the cop gave me just a warning. I was very grateful for that bit of grace later on.

Officer "Smith" said...

...I hadn't been living in that area long, and was not familiar with the speed limit...

People use that one with me regularly. I have to point out the big black and white signs they passed with the big 25 on them.

I sometimes travel to other areas, and I somehow always manage to notice the speed limit signs. Why do so many others fail to notice them?

Beat And Release said...

I have arrested one other "LEO." About eighteen years ago I observed a Camaro in front of me and it was apparent the driver was either ripped out of his mind or was having a heart attack. He turned out to be a military police officer. Unfortunately for him, I had just been hit by a drunk driver a few weeks before and was in my zero tolerance mode. He had 10K cash in his car - his re-enlistment bonus. He came to court a few weeks later, plead guilty and thanked me for saving his life. I can now relate to that.

Now, as a general rule, I won't scratch an officer on a first time stop. I also will not write doctors and nurses. I would really hate to be lying on an ER gurney with a gunshot would and looking up, only to see the face of the doctor or nurse I wrote a ticket to the week before.

Triple Beeper said...

I think the last time I got stopped, and he told me what the speed limit was, I was like "Aw, crap. Really?" He chuckled at me. Turns out I had mixed up the speed limits on two very similar streets that I drive all the time. That being said, I generally tend to drive like I don't want to get stopped....because I don't. The other dispatchers make my life hell, whether I got a ticket or not.

The Bus Driver said...

I've been very lucky the three times I've been pulled over for speeding. Each time I was going a significant speed over the limit (somewhere around 50 in a 30). To my benefit, ironically, I got pulled over at two of the major "speed traps" in town.

The first time was at night and I got flagged down with 6-8 other drivers. The second time was a single stop, but then my cousin came roaring by in her jeep flying up the hill in the opposite direction I was pulled over on, the cop looked up, pointed at her and yelled, "SLOW DOWN!!!!" I buried my head in shame! The cop then knocked my speed down from what he clocked me at and I was VERY grateful.

The third time, the cop and I passed each other on a two lane road. He was going the opposite direction. I passed him, saw the lights come on in my rear view mirror, and just simply pulled over and waited for him to come behind me. I think he was a bit shocked that I actually pulled and stopped. When he asked me for a reason, I owned up to speeding, then told him that I had gotten a new motor in the car and was not used to the power behind it. (my old motor had died.) Then I apologized for my actions.

I owned up to speeding all three times, and was given a warning each time. All in all, I was very lucky.

MsPsycho said...

But isn't this called favoritism? You alone, decides the fate of the person you stop, and if you don’t like the looks of this person they get a ticket? How is that fair? Shouldn’t there be a system in place where anyone stopped will get say ... 3 strikes .. And after that they get a ticket regardless of who they are and what they do for a living?

I know ... Life is just not fair.

Officer "Smith" said...

Not favoritism at all. I didn't write a ticket to every single driver I stopped this week. Some got warnings. And none of them were cops.

It's called discretion.

Mr. Police Man said...

I try to stay off the radar but when I was in the hospital i mentioned to a nurse what i did. Just happened I had arrested her son for rape. She didn't know i had but knew my department well....oops.

Mr. Police Man said...

I am a ticket hound yet normally let a cop off. Just a few weeks ago I did have to arrest a "reserve" for a DUI TC and a Sgt. from a Metro City for 242, and a jail dep. for DUI/Pursuit.

Typicially, its let me see your work ID and match it to your D.L. and drive safe.

Handful of Throttle said...

I have never cited a cop. I also don't cite firefighters, and usually don't cite doctors or nurses. If one yanked my chain long and hard enough I would be happy to cite them. It's MY discretion, not anybody else's.

That being said, every time I give a "professional courtesy" warning (even though docs and nurses don't really fall into this category) I give a warning to Joe or Jane Schmoe as well, just to keep it even. In fact, I have given many many more warnings to Joe Schmoes in my career than I have to cops or firemen. So don't bitch at me when I let a cop go. Call it favoritism if you want, I don't care--I don't think you non-cops really want me to not use my judgement and discretion out there--everything is a situation. If cops don't use discretion, all you have are robot cops. Usually you find this in the younger new officers. Veteran cops find a lot more of the color gray in life.

Kyle said...

Being a son and nephew of firefighters, certified EMT, and cousin to a cop, I understand professional courtesy. This has been an issue that I have struggled back and forth with for a very long time. I can see both sides of the argument, and could make a very convincing argument for either side. I think the thing that irks me the most is that public servants SHOULD be held to a higher standard, especially if they are enforcing the law, which they should lead by example and obey first. With that said, if I am extended professional courtesy, I will not turn it down. I know, it doesn't help the argument. But it is my two cents' worth.

TJ said...

.. What is mad dogging?

donaxemena said...

Officer "Smith": I agree with you on your blog when you talk about what to do and what not to do when you are around cops but I respectfully disagree with your limited discussion on what constitutes professional courtesy. It runs much deeper especially in the southern "good ole boy" states. I work at an agency which recently extended "professional courtesy" to another agency because the Sheriff's are "buddies" and its election year despite the fact that the actions taken by the "lieutenant deputy" are felonious in nature. No charges were filed, only a report was made by the property owner. This kind of professional courtesy hurts the public trust of LEO across the country and it happens rampantly without regard. Allowing a private citizen or a fellow officer to skate on a moving violation is NOT the same type of professional courtesy that many people are concerned with.

donaxemena said...

Officer "Smith": I agree with you on your blog when you talk about what to do and what not to do when you are around cops but I respectfully disagree with your limited discussion on what constitutes professional courtesy. It runs much deeper especially in the southern "good ole boy" states. I work at an agency which recently extended "professional courtesy" to another agency because the Sheriff's are "buddies" and its election year despite the fact that the actions taken by the "lieutenant deputy" are felonious in nature. No charges were filed, only a report was made by the property owner. This kind of professional courtesy hurts the public trust of LEO across the country and it happens rampantly without regard. Allowing a private citizen or a fellow officer to skate on a moving violation is NOT the same type of professional courtesy that many people are concerned with.

Officer "Smith" said...

Donaxemena,

Disagree away, but remember what you said about a "limited discussion" about professional courtesy. It has to be limited or I would run out of room.

I was talking about professional courtesy. You're talking about blustering and politicing. The "good ole boy" mentality is a whole different world from what I was talking about, and would need its own post to do it any justice.