Tuesday, July 31, 2012


This is a foldable electric bicycle.

DEAR SERGEANT AL:  I see a few weeks ago you addressed the issues of buying an all-electric plug-in car. I’m thinking about getting an electric plug-in bike. Will I need to get a license? I would figure that since it doesn’t have an internal combustion engine, it has pedals, and it is basically a bicycle that you don’t need a motor. Any advice? —PART EXERCISING DIMENTIALLY ALLEVIATES LAX PUMPING INTO MORE PEDALING.
DEAR PEDAL PIMP: Ah, ah, ah, be very careful. Like I was describing in my post last week about ticket insurance, the e-bike market is another industry and demographic that is still in its infancy if not still in gestation. This is the rare exception of that case where just because it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, shifts like a duck, rides like a duck, and pedals like a duck, you can convince yourself that in fact you have a duck, when actually after the first time the police pull you over on your new bike you then realize you don’t have a duck with tickets for unlicensed riding in your hand, if not having the bike confiscated and vouchered. This was the same thinking that got lots of people into trouble some 35 years ago during the energy crisis of the 70’s when people went out like crazy and started buying mopeds made in China, Taiwan, Korea, etc. and started riding them all over the place in this country without licenses past the long lines at the gas pumps. Many had their moped riding careers cut short abruptly either by ticket, injury, or death! Just because you can switch the motor off and start pedaling doesn’t mean you can fool the police that it can pass for a bike and not require you to have a license. We’re not brain surgeons, but we’re certainly not stupid either!

Remember this rule of thumb on whether you need a license to operate or you need to register a self-propelled vehicle: If the vehicle propels itself in some way, whether by land, sea, or air, using any kind of oil, any kind of gas, any other kind of liquid or substance (water too, i.e. hydrogen power, or think “Doc” Brown and his DeLorean), electricity, wind (yes wind like a fixed or rotating wing aircraft), or solar power to propel it, most likely you need to document with the government either the vehicle itself, or at least your ability to operate it based on proof submitted to a government agent (road/written test or marine or aircraft operator’s license). Police all across the country are getting wise to the electric bike phenomena, and they may not crack down on it in significant proportions yet like the 70’s moped craze because:

1.    There aren’t that many e-bikes yet for the police to have the resolve to crack down. E-bikes are more difficult to spot on the road than mopeds were years ago. People haven’t been hurt or killed in substantive proportions yet for the will of the people to make them start cracking down on illegal electric bikes in any significant way. But this will change very soon as e-bikes proliferate.
2.   The laws haven’t yet adjusted to include e-bikes. There are only 15 states so far that define and regulate e-bikes. Many local jurisdictions have stepped in to either ban or approve e-bikes. States like New York outright ban them, though they have pending legislation to define and regulate them.
3.   E-bikes beg for their own classification. They can go faster than a regular bicycle, a bit slower than a car or a motorcycle on local roads, and about as fast as a moped or scooter, but they aren’t powered by internal combustion, so where should we put them? This is the dilemma that state legislatures across the country are facing. The problem with e-bikes is that because they are self-propelled and vary in their speed that they are being introduced into an environment where they can be dangerous to cars, pedestrians and other bikes. Because they can have a varying range in speed that falls into the realm of both motor vehicles and bikes, they can cause more property damage and injuries (and death) under many more circumstances than a regular bike. The following video might be funny to watch, especially if you're a guy, but it underscores how dangerous electric bikes can be:
SO my advice is to stay within the law as electric bikes proliferate like missiles. When the police are ready to stop you, you can pedal or electric right on by on Electric Avenue licensed and legal. Here are four issues you need to address before you go out and buy an electric bicycle:
1.    What kind of vehicle do I have? Know what kind of classification your e-bike falls into under the law so that you know what kind of documentation (license and/or registration) you may need. Check with your state to find out which kind is which. Thirty-five states as of this writing do not have any definition of what an e-bike is. In some states a moped and a self propelled bike can be the same thing and have:
           Fully functional pedals for human propulsion.
   An internal combustion engine producing less than two gross brake horsepower with automatic transmission.
           An electric motor with or without pedals.

Some states like California make your bike OK to ride without a license depending on how powerful or fast it can go. Some states like New York are super-strict in that if it has any kind of motor you need a license to drive/ride it, period, and e-bikes are BANNED. Here’s California’s interpretation according to their handbook:

        The second type of moped has an electric motor of less than 1,000 watts and cannot go above 20 mph on level ground (even if assisted by human power). The motor must also stop when the brakes are applied or starter switch released.
        This "20 mph" classification of a moped may be driven without a license, proof of financial responsibility, or a moped license plate. The driver need only be 16 years old and wearing a properly fitting bicycle helmet.
        You can't ride your moped on freeways or any type of bike path or trail, unless local law has given permission. You can drive your moped in lanes designated for bicycles, but be considerate of other bikers.
So here your electric bike is good to ride in the Golden State, but watch out anywhere else. Also remember this, in some cases, like in some cities, you need to check with their ordinances to see if they allow electric bicycles on their roads and paths without registering with them. Just because a state may allow you to ride an electric bike, doesn’t necessarily mean that a town, county, or city may make it OK.

2.   What age do I have to be? The 15 states that have laws about this are all over the place, ranging from ages 10-18. The rule of thumb is that if you are old enough to get behind the wheel of a car, then you’re good to go on a 2 or 3-wheeled self propelled vehicle as well. Usually you must be 16 and older to drive a self propelled two or three wheeled vehicle like an electric bike. CHECK WITH YOUR STATE.

3.   Do I have to wear a helmet? Most likely yes. The age ranges vary as they do for who can operate a self propelled 2 or 3-wheeled vehicle. But if you don’t have to wear a helmet for a motorcycle in your state there’s a chance you won’t have to for a bicycle (but this is a BAD idea, wear one anyway). CHECK WITH YOUR STATE.

4.   What happens when I run out of power? Very much like the issues that face drivers with electric cars, once you’ve used all of your range, you’re screwed. Like I told readers in my electric car post, the battery issues with cars are problematic, expect the same if not worse for bicycles as well. The technology still needs tweaking, and because the batteries in bikes are smaller than they are in cars, the ranges can be much worse if not as reliable. Remember that with an electric car, a driver can call AAA and have the car quick-charged or towed to a recharging station. If you run out of power with your bicycle however, it reverts to a regular bike and thus, you’re governed by all the rules no differently than an ordinary bicycle. That might mean you might not be able to bike in places or distances that allow you to do so in electric mode. Remember that some of these e-bikes can get up to speeds of up to 30-35 mph, so they can cover more distances than a regular bike. That’s great to get to your destination, but a potential for disaster for the return trip if you’re out of range or juice. You can plug in your laptop or cellphone at Starbucks, I don’t know if that’ll wash with your bike. So if I were you PEDAL PIMP, I’d watch where you go with your range more so than with an electric car, and make sure that if necessary you can pedal your way back, otherwise if the hills are too steep or the distance too far, you might have to call for a ride or bus it or cab it home!
PEDAL PIMP as it stands now, there is no rhyme to any reason when it comes to purchasing and riding an electric bicycle. Everybody from the manufacturers to government to consumers is all over the place when it comes to making, selling, buying, and riding e-bikes. Every state has its own rules, or no rules that can be interpreted as skies the limit or a complete ban, so my best suggestion is to look up your state’s website or call your local DMV office for the right information. I’m letting you go with a WARNING: it may be the green thing to do to ride an electric bike, but any self-propelled vehicle can be DANGEROUS to you and others around you, no matter how fast or slow it goes, this is why most jurisdictions regulate such things to insure that they are operated safely, once they get their act together if they ever do. Good luck with your electric bike shopping, and drive and ride safely!

Suggested Reading:

What is a CARMAGEDDON and when will it happen? 
Am I allowed to walk on a highway?
Suggested Reading:
The definition of a “Concours” car and event
Suggested Reading:
Suggested Reading:
What is the new national terror alert warning?
Taking photographs at off-limits tourist landmarks .

Monday, July 30, 2012


DEAR SERGEANT AL:  I got a ticket for texting and driving last week. I gotta admit the cop caught me red handed. By chance is there any kind of defense I can use? —THE EXTRA XTRAORDINARY TEXTING EVEN REDUCED MY INSURANCE ANNUALLY.
DEAR TEXTER MIA: You dummy you. Yeah, there’s a defense you can use for texting and driving all right, and it’s called the jackass defense! In most states it’s an affirmative defense in the criminal procedure law that actually expedites and guarantees conviction! Congratulations on getting a fine! I hope your penalty is swift and your insurance surcharge on your insurance policy renewal in six or twelve months is quick and painful! How many points did you lose? Are you going to be suspended? Boy am I going to be glad you’ll be off the road for a while if you are! This way, I won’t have to worry about you weaving all over the place as you’re looking to get laid by telling your girlfriend on your keyboard how hot and sexy she is while you’re creating mayhem amongst us with your sloppy driving! May you go blind from your phone and from anything else you might be holding as you're watching porn while driving as well. In fact I hope whatever it is you're holding while driving falls out of your hand and breaks! Gee, it’s really going to make you look real cool as you pull up to the restaurant in a bus to meet your date because you can’t drive anymore! Better yet, why don't you make yourself feel like the big man you are right now and have her come pick you up in her car? I bet that will make you feel real small, especially in places where it really counts, won't it?  I hope you still live at home so your parents can take your car away from you, hopefully your cell phone too! You're grounded little man: one month!
Look, seriously, this is as hard as I’m going to get on you for texting and driving, as there is no excuse for it, not even to text the police for an emergency even if there is such a thing that exists yet (actually that’s coming soon in some places as you will be able to send the police MMS pictures).  Chalk it up to a lesson in your history book, learn from it, and move forward. Know this: in some states it is illegal to text and drive while the car is in motion. This means that if you are at a red light or stopped in heavy traffic, there might be some leeway to pull out the phone and type a quick line, but other states even forbid you from doing that as well. EITHER WAY, IT’S STILL NOT COOL: Some states have very specific and some have no provisions when it comes to distracted driving laws. But make no mistake: texting and driving laws are about to sweep the country and change very soon to address these problems. AND NO I’M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU WHICH STATES ALLOW THIS AND WHICH DON’T (look this up yourself), suffice to say, that even though at times I confess to doing this at a traffic light once in a while, it’s still a bad practice and example, and we really should be paying attention to the road and not text and drive at all. Period.
This is all I have to say about texting and driving, TEXTER MIA. Enjoy some of my favorite videos on the Net about texting and driving. Unless there is something unusual or unique about this phenomenon, please don’t ask me about it again, as it is dangerous now, and will be no more dangerous in the future. Your issuing officer beat me to it with a CITATION, but I’ll be looking out for you on the road to see if you’re going to be a frequent flying texter. Good luck!
This one might be a little off color: WARNING

Saturday, July 28, 2012


HEY SERGEANT AL:  I see you’re into English cars so I was thinking maybe you could help me: my tire pressure light keeps coming on for me to try everything under the sun to make it shut off. I've inspected the tires; nothing. Sometimes the light stays on at start-up, and sometimes it goes off while driving. Sometimes it usually goes off after driving for a while, but if I'm driving on the highway, sometimes it comes back on again. Could something be wrong with the light itself? I was thinking about taking it back to the dealer and have them trace the wires to see what’s going wrong, even though I prefer not to. I drive a 2006 Bentley Flying Spur. —FLICKERING LIGHT YET IT’S NOT GETTING BETTER.
This is the Continental Flying Spur saloon by Bentley Motors Ltd., of Cheshire, Crewe, UK. It has a 6.0 litre W12 engine (essentially two mini V6 engines welded together) with two bi-twin turbochargers slapped on each side. This configuration yields at least 562 horsepower, more ponies than most Porches produce. The 2013 model MSRP starts at $202,600. This car is definitely in the crosshairs of my radar gun . . .
DEAR FLYING “B”: I don’t mind at all going slightly off subject even though questions like these are about cars anyway, so yes, I do love the English car questions, thank you (smile), and keep them coming! After I retired from the police force on the east coast, I had clients who owned bespoke cars, some of which I was responsible to drive and maintain, so I amassed a lot of knowledge with these kinds of cars. I might have a question later this or next week, depending how much research I get done, from a reader about whether to restore an old Bentley T series saloon if you’re interested, so stay tuned . . .
A Bentley Arnage being hand assembled at Bentley's plant in Crewe, UK. They finished assembling the chassis and body, as well as priming the car, now they are about to paint the car by hand before adding the suspension, engine, and interior (not necessarily in that order).
Bespoke cars, which usually consist of brands like Rolls Royce, Bentley, or Aston Martin, are all cars that are handcrafted by professional engineers and tradesmen, customized to the customer's taste, and assembled like yachts by hand as opposed to by a machine (thus the term “land yacht”), like your Flying Spur. I often used to tell my former clients that when it comes to these kind of cars, that you never know when a problem is really a problem. When a mechanical condition on these kind of cars presents itself,  you usually have to wait and further investigate to see if the condition at hand is either a serious or just a minor problem. Although vast improvements have been made in the assembly process over the past some thirty years to make these cars better built and more reliable than years past, bespoke cars are still mostly assembled by hand, and in that, the margin for error and mistakes increase several fold before they can be found and repaired, as opposed to a car that is mass assembled strictly by machine. Because exotic carmakers usually assemble less than 1000 units a model for any given year, it’s much harder to spot an item for recall or to recognize if a car really has a mechanical problem at all. Although they now use robotic welders for assembly of the body and chassis, most of the engines are assembled usually by either a very few or just one mechanic, and by hand. This is why after assembly is completed, car manufacturers like Bentley and Rolls Royce, which after more than 60 years together are now separate car makers again, keep their completely assembled cars at the plant for a few weeks to constantly test drive the cars over and over, to return them to the plant for tweaking and re-testing repeatedly before shipping the car to their customers. Once the car arrives here they like to further test the car again to insure all the bugs have been fixed before delivery. This is another reason why the quality control, especially for a hand made product, has improved tremendously over recent years; why bespoke car makers usually warranty their cars beginning at the odometer miles at delivery as opposed to mile zero, and why a new Rolls Royce, Bentley, Ferrari, or whatever exotic bespoke car you’re purchasing, never has usually less than 75 miles or so on the speedometer at delivery. In my opinion, if the car has less than 40 or so miles on it, then the car hasn’t been tested thoroughly enough, if not for automatic transmission issues alone.
For the first four years ALL maintenance and repairs are covered for FREE under warranty by Bentley, and that's if you  didn't extend coverage, so why take chances? Call your Bentley dealer and have them pick up the car at your office or at home to have it properly serviced.
First let me cover myself: you are driving a Bentley, a powerful car that has high performance tires and rims. You can get into a serious accident if you don’t resolve this issue soon, properly, and carefully. Even if you don’t drive like Mario Andretti in your Bentley, and even if you can afford to buy AND drive this car with its gas mileage, then you shouldn’t take chances by not going to the repair shop to have them look at it, even if the car is out of warranty. SO that is my bottom line advice: have a mechanic look at it anyway. With that in mind, these are some of the issues you should be focusing on as you go there . . .

There are two major issues you need to examine when it comes to the tire pressure light of your car: first is the tire, which I suspect may have a very slow leak. Secondly is the light itself and all the problems that might be causing it other than the tire. To my other readers: regardless of what kind of car you drive, expensive or economy, everyone here should pay attention, because all cars are now acquiring tire pressure sensor technology, including your Kia or Hyundai or whatever. So let’s all read on and take a look at the first issue, which is:
1.   The tire itself: If I had to bet, my wager would be most likely this is where the problem lies if not the sensor. If you haven’t changed the tires yet since you’ve purchased it, your Bentley is probably equipped with 275/40ZR19 Pirelli PZero Rosso tires, about $500 each, cheaper if you shop around online. By the way, WARNING: your rims cost about $6000 each, so don’t rub them against the curb as you will not only easily damage the rims, but also compromise your tire sensors and ruin the tires. WATCH FOR THOSE POTHOLES as I’ve had clients who had to replace their rims because of this. Also, never replace the valve caps unless the replacement caps are specifically made for your car: you might compromise the tire sensors. There’s a good chance there’s a slow leak in that tire which is making the tire inflate with air when hot and under friction, and cool down when you slow down or stop, and the tire gets cold. Your car’s computer is responding in kind, and doesn’t know what to do, so it probably tries to keep the light on. Mind you, this is a Bentley, so with the traction control, all wheel drive, stability control, and antilock brakes, there’s a good chance you will not feel the difference in tire pressure at all, front or rear. I once drove  the same car like yours for hours on a trip to upstate from New York City on a tire unknowingly and completely empty of air. The car drove perfectly fine with no steering or handling issues, except for the tire pressure light. I inflated the tire to proper specs at the gas station and had no further problems at all with either the light, the tire, or the computer system. Go to a tire shop and have them take the tire off the rim for a more thorough examination. If it is not the tire the next place to look is in the rims at the tire sensors themselves, since the tire will be already off the rim. At several hundred dollars a piece, the sensor(s) may need to be replaced. When finished, I suggest replacing the air on ALL the tires with nitrogen: it’s an extra expense yes, but the car will handle better, you'll get a bit better gas mileage than the 10 mpg you're getting now, and the tires should last a bit longer. If none of this helps move onto the next issue:
2.   The tire pressure light: When you approach or start your Bentley with the smart key, you are activating the car’s computer to start and boot up. It runs a diagnostic of all systems, as your car is greeting you by activating things like the courtesy lights, and getting ready to start and go. The tire pressure light might be recycling itself, thinking that there might be a problem with the air pressure, believing you might need more air. The computer recycles the diagnostic to retest and reset, thus leaving the light on, possibly because of system failure. This is where I state with bespoke cars you never know when a problem is really a problem. Now, you can take your car back and have the boys from Bentley strip your electrical system down to its core nervous system to see if anything is wrong, which is why it is important to rule out the tire and sensor(s) before moving on to the electrical system.
The tires on this Bentley cost around $500 a piece WITHOUT the run flat feature, which costs much more, and the rims are at least $6000 a wheel new, so it helps not to ruin or rub the rims against anything or run over potholes. If you need to replace the valve caps make sure you do so only with OEM replacement parts approved by the car maker. I suggest refilling the air with nitrogen, as the tires will drive cooler, save a little gas, and also last a bit longer. Just because we're talking about a Bentley doesn't mean YOUR CAR is exempt from these costs: tire replacements, even for run flat tires which are replacing many tires as we lose the spare in the trunk is becoming the norm for ALL cars.
Let me know what happens FLYING “B,” otherwise you are WARNED: with bespoke cars you have to be careful, as you can see they need just a bit more tender care to discern when a problem might be about something routine like a leaky tire or a prelude to a major electrical apocalypse which I’ve witnessed in more than one incident where more than one  car (not Bentleys) had to be replaced under warranty for major electrical issues, no kidding. Don’t let this sway you, however, because quality control has vastly improved with bespoke cars over the years for these cars to have way less problems than they did many years ago. Especially if the car is under warranty, it probably won’t cost you anything to make an appointment, and have them pick the car up from your home or office to service it for you. Good luck and safe driving!

Thursday, July 26, 2012


DEAR SERGEANT AL:  Now that you answered the question what the cops are doing inside those radio cars when sitting on the side of the road (BASICALLY NOTHING) tell us what happens and what goes on when a cop decides to go after somebody and pulls them over? Are the cops really that much of a prick at times as they come off as being? --COPS OFTEN PATROL WITH A TIME CAUSING HISTORICAL EXECUTION REPEATEDLY.

DEAR COP WATCHER (again?): OK now you are REALLY asking too many questions at once and loaded ones at that. Actually I’m more interested now in why you want to know? Are you a police car stop frequent flyer? You’re starting to sound like one. Sometimes the cops aren’t necessarily the pricks in that it usually is the violator who is so flagrantly violating the law and usually so dangerously without regard, that he is the only one who usually needs to look around to find who most closely resembles a phallic shape, and to see no one else but usually himself [oh my!].

Anyway, COP WATCHER; please understand that in the United States more police officers are killed in the line of duty by the automobile than by an assassin’s bullet. The police cruiser represents so many things in law enforcement that many do not realize that the patrol car in many ways is a mobile coffin waiting for the next cop’s interment to happen.
Trust me when I tell you there is a BIG difference in performance and safety when driving an American police car verses driving a German saloon. One was MODIFIED to chase cars on an American interstate highway and the other was PURPOSE DESIGNED and BUILT for the German Autobahn. A cop keeps this in mind when driving . . .
 First take a closer look at the car the cop is sitting in and driving. I often tell people when they ask me about police officers doing speed enforcement, that it is one thing to speed in a car that’s designed to be driven at high speeds. It’s another thing to drive at high speeds in a car that was specifically designed to be nothing more than an American family sedan. There lies the problem with the American police cruiser. You see, a Chevrolet Corvette or Camaro, a Ford Mustang, a Dodge Challenger or Viper, even a Mercedes Benz S550 or a BMW 760 are designed to travel at speeds in excess of 100 mph, and in some cases as it is with the luxury performance saloons, to do so for prolong periods of time. In the case of a Ford Crown Victoria or Taurus, a Chevy Impala or an old Caprice, a Dodge Charger or an old Diplomat, or an old Plymouth Fury, although they can go as fast, driving them at high speeds can be a scary proposition in excess of over 100 mph. You can add all the cop shocks, cop tires, cop brakes, cop transmissions, cop engines, and cop cooling the world has to offer, but you still have a car that was basically made to hold a family of five and no more. There is a difference between driving a car that was modified to chase cars on an American interstate and a car that was purpose designed and built for the German Autobahn. If these words do not discern the difference in danger for you between driving a German and an American car, then I suggest you drive them yourself in a comparison to see what I mean, and how driving an American police car at high speeds can be dangerous.
So with the kind of car the cop is driving in mind, take a closer look at what goes through an officer’s mind when he pursues a motorist. What goes on in the mind of a police officer that just locked in on a speeder and is about to go after him? The same thing he experiences when in high-speed pursuit of an evading felon: Fear. Courage. Hope. Determination. Resolve. Maybe even a prayer that the officer will make it through the stop and the tour in one piece without a car crash and a bullet hole. Most likely the officer’s heart is going to be racing just as fast as the motorist, even though he’s so used to it he may not show it to become most times unaware of it. If an officer is on the shoulder and a speeder is going 80 mph, the laws of physics dictates that it will take the officer speeds faster than 100 mph to overcome the speeding vehicle from a stationary position. The officer is going to be doing this in a car that is able to go fast but not designed to be driven that fast. Once he/she manages to get the police car up to race speeds then the speeder safely over and stopped in a matter of minutes if not seconds, he/she now has to deal with the violator and the infraction that caused the stop. Remember that if the officer is in uniform, the motorist is going to know exactly what and who the officer is. For the officer, he/she will have no clue who or what the motorist is unless the motorist pops a warrant on the radio or MDT computer, or commits a misdemeanor or felony in the officer’s presence. And that might include the motorist either speeding off to evade the officer or the motorist outright shooting the officer.
Dealing with confrontation at the car stop. Human condition dictates kindness is often mistaken for weakness. An officer by regulation and ethics must be courteous to the public true, but make no mistake about police work that it is about arresting people and ticketing them, by force if necessary; the police are not there nor paid to make friends in a legal or tactical sense. This may address your “prick” comment COP WATCHER, in that the officer needs to establish an authority at the car stop to make it clear that the motorist is being stopped for breaking the law, and not stopped for exchanging courtesies, and depending on the outcome no matter who the motorist is, they might be arrested or ticketed before the officer even looks at or runs the license. 
I remember the time when I crossed the Canadian American border from Quebec back into New York in January of 2004. It had been just over two years since September 11th, and based upon the last time I crossed the border years previously, I could clearly see that times have changed. The Canadian customs officers were very courteous and professional to me as I to them, but they made it clear that I was not in the United States, that I was now dealing with a foreign sovereign government that was separate and apart from my country as if I was on the other side of the world, and that I was now a foreign national. For no explained reason for which I was never told, they announced that they were taking me off the line to cross the border and that they were going to take my car apart and search it. I couldn't understand why but I fully cooperated, knowing I had nothing to hide. I gave them my driver’s license, identified myself as an American police officer with my credentials, and stated my intentions as to why I visited Canada, where and whom I had visited, and that I was returning back home. As nice as they were to me and I to them, you could obviously tell that they could have cared less. They took the car apart including the rear seat AND seat back, the entire trunk, removal of insulation, the spare tire, and tools, and they checked every nook and cranny. They asked me if I had my firearm but didn’t believe me to check for one anyway. They smiled as they tried to put everything back as close to the way I had it (the trunk was full as I was on vacation), and then let me go. I was there for 45 minutes in their parking lot by the checkpoint. I knew they were wasting their time as I stood there chatting up a storm with a companion rolling my eyes at them but killing them with kindness. I could have been at the 1970 Czechoslovakian border during the Cold War for all I knew, and ultimately, I think I was treated poorly, considering that I was fellow law enforcement. I never saw authority executed with such resolve and determination as ever before as if they were looking to arrest me, even though and especially in spite of the fact that I was one of them. Most law enforcement officers probably would have complained to their superiors, but I was more interested in going home as quickly as possible. But ultimately I didn't have anything really to complain about: they weren't rude or abusive, they did their job even though they treated me like anyone else. And that's my point: if this is the way I as an officer was treated by an outside law enforcement agency, then I hope this story makes you better understand what the police are going thorough when they stop a typical ordinary citizen like you to treat you in a similar manner. They're doing their job . . .
To ticket or let go? Once the motorist is targeted, pursued, stopped, and identified, this is where the officer has to decide whether to take summary action against the motorist (ticket or arrest) or let them go. Since off-duty and retired officers and their families are more likely going to render assistance than the general public in a situation where someday I might need help (see my comment in part 1 of this post), they and their families are most likely, absent unusual circumstances of course, are going to get a break. People who are not of the law enforcement world get all bent out of shape about this for either side to not understand the philosophy behind the other’s side. This has nothing to do with that so called “blue wall of silence.” Doctors look out for other doctors; judges, lawyers, and other professionals do the same. The law gives me pure discretion as to whom I can ticket and let go, so it is my prerogative, tough luck. I’m sorry if this upsets some people, but if it does, then become a cop or a cop’s family member to understand and to invest an interest in law enforcement welfare so that you will better understand and appreciate the dynamic so you most likely will not get a ticket when you get stopped. Get over it.
When the stop is over. I believe the only time in this process an officer can start to rest easy is when either he or the motorist drives away from the scene of the car stop. The problem is that if the officer needs more tickets for his monthly activity, so called “the quota,” he/she has to start this all over again. So there it is COP WATCHER, you are WARNED, “prick” and all, as you hopefully can now see how difficult and dangerous traffic enforcement can be for police officers. I hope next time when you see a cop on the side of the road on his cell phone talking to either his squeeze or his kids or doing whatever, you will appreciate that the moment the cop is having is probably deserved considering the danger the officer faces throughout his career.  There will be times that a cop will be doing nothing to purely collect time so he can collect his pension no doubt, but until that time comes that you will see it for what it is to call him out, that otherwise you understand how difficult, dangerous, and stressful police work really is. So have a little more patience and be a bit nicer when he pulls you over next time. Have a safe one!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


What's that cop car doing way back there?

DEAR SERGEANT AL: I was wondering for the life of me: what’s going on inside a police car every time I pass one by that seems to be doing nothing on the side of the highway or at a turn-around at any given time of the day that causes people to panic and slow down? Are you guys really paying attention to your radar or are you doing some kind of work, on the phone, watching TV or sleeping while on duty? —COPS OFTEN PATROL WITH A TIME CAUSING HISTORICAL EXECUTION REPEATEDLY.
Is this the police car on the side of the road you are referring to?
DEAR COP WATCHER: If I gave you an answer unfortunately I would have to execute you, so it’s best for you to tend to your own business and leave such issues as what we do inside police cars to ourselves, thank you. I’m rolling up the crack in my window now. Drive on and drive carefully.



DEAR COP WATCHER (again): Just kidding. Don’t click to the next website yet. I’ll answer your question as honestly as I can, considering that you aren’t the only one who insists on being so nosey to rubberneck on by wondering what the police are doing. I just hope the day comes that when you are as nosey as you are now that when you ever see someone kicking my ass on the side of the road, that you do the right thing and at least call 911 if not get out of the car and give me a hand. While I’m sitting here telling you a story about what we cops do at the side of the road, how about getting me a cup of coffee (black and sweet) and a donut as I tell you a story? Yes I like donuts, preferably ones with holes in them, and I’m not a fat cop, so I have no shame in liking donuts. I’m a cop and that’s what I am, what I do and what I like, thank you. I’ll wait here until you come back.
Now that I have my coffee and donut, I’ll let you in on a story about my work. The short answer to your question is YES. Very much like you probably have an office or a cubicle at work in which you spend your entire day playing on your smart phone and getting paid for it, please remember that a police cruiser is our mobile office for the entire 8-10 hour shift we work on patrol on any given day.  Remember that the core of our work is waiting around doing nothing until something happens. Over the course of the tour (that’s what we call our shift) during the day, week, or month, we often have to respond to radio runs (911 calls) either on the highway or in town that usually keeps us busy. But sometimes it’s usually on those early bright quiet Saturday or Sunday mornings that you often find us sitting quietly on either side of the road doing nothing, staring into blank empty space. This is where you probably wonder what we are doing and what we are thinking.
It can be very lonely out there. Humans are social animals that we need order, structure, and interaction to keep our sanity. This is why we as a society have hierarchy, laws, rules, ranks, orders, traditions, customs, responsibilities, social classes, families, groups, and friends. When we are alone we crave for contact. This is why it is unhealthy for us to be in solitary confinement. This is why if we were left alone we would eventually die sooner. This is why I often tell people do not be surprised if you find yourself being pulled over by a lonely state trooper for something you swore you didn’t do, to find yourself let go without a ticket or even a warning for that matter. Sometimes an officer needs social interaction. Sometimes a police officer needs to reach out to the public to see if they need help even though the public may not be asking for any at the moment. I have often heard stories about colleagues who have met people ranging from sexual encounters to people who became their girlfriends/boyfriends if not spouses, from an on the side of the road car stop encounter. We meet people in the strangest places often under the most unusual of circumstances.
When an officer is on the side of the road he/she might be doing a variety of things. If not doing paperwork, they might be on their cell phone at all different hours talking to their squeeze, be it their wife, husband, girl, or their man. If they are on a fixed post (they can’t go anywhere else and they have to be relieved face-to-face by another officer), they might bring their laptop and do school work, watch movies, and just surf the Internet to read senseless crap like you’re reading now (smile). And once in a while, yes, depending on the time of day and how many hours worked previously, the cop might be nodding off to sleep as he/she might be very tired from working overtime at the moment, the previous day, or from his/her side job because he/she is not earning a livable working wage and needs a side job to feed their kids and keep a roof over their head.  We wear a uniform to sometimes look like a robot, but we are very much humans like you are.
Hmm, what's that cop doing in there?
Well, the cat is out of the bag! Don’t kill the messenger for honestly answering your question. All you need to be concerned about is that moment on the side of the road where I am actually paying attention to my radar to check your speeding and pull you over! Be on the lookout when I do! Safe driving!