Society needs to get a grasp.
On Sunday, I was coming home after a fine day of watching baseball in Syracuse. The whole day was wonderful with blue skies and just enjoying baseball.
For those who know me, you know I’m a bit of a baseball nerd. When I go, I keep a scorebook and just watch the game. I rarely have a beer when I am at a game, and if I’m driving I pretty much completely avoid it.
That was Sunday.
Being I went by myself, I was driving. I watched a doubleheader, during which I had my normal hot dogs and not much more. When the games ended, I headed home. Simple as that.
By the time I was about 30 miles from home, I was ready for the day to be over. Though I wasn’t driving over-aggressive, I made a few passes on the way home (in zones, so legally) and all of those passes were of people who were adjusting their speed the whole time, many of times which was below the speed limit.
When not passing, I gave cars their distance as I’m supposed to. I didn’t think anything was bad.
The first vehicle I passed hit his volunteer fireman blue light – which I’m not sure is truly legal as there was no emergency. It was turned off quickly, though, so maybe it was their way of telling me it was safe for me to come back in?
I passed one other (again, legal passing zone) who I then saw eventually turned. There was one more pass that happened (legal zone) miles down the road of somebody going about 40-45 in a 55.
I don’t think I did anything wrong.
Now, I’d like to also point out that on my way home from Syracuse, I passed no fewer than three or so troopers and never got pulled over. On the way up, I passed no fewer than five and didn’t get pulled over.
So I came into my town (doing the legal speed limit) and passed a sheriff deputy, who turned and followed me, hitting his lights as I neared my home. He came up, asked me for my license and registration and walked away talking to a second police officer who had showed up.
Now, mind you, I still have no idea why I was pulled over.
So the first officer came back and told me he pulled me over because somebody called with my license plate and car description saying I was driving “fast and erratic.” He said they had to pull me over to see if I was intoxicated or had a medical emergency. So, despite them not seeing me doing anything wrong, they pulled me over – based on somebody making a phone call. So does that mean if I am just mad at somebody, I can call the police when I see them driving and they’ll take care of it? Or it makes me wonder if the person who called “knew somebody?”
I did wonder if the person who called it in either pulled over or had somebody else in the car make the call, being it’s illegal to talk on the phone in New York while driving.
In the end, my license was handed back to me because “they got another call” and had to race off through a residential area. Part of me wonders what he would have done if he hadn’t been called away.
The other part of all this is taking the caller’s word. What if they were just mad that somebody passed them, despite driving under the speed limit?
This is society now.
My father was a chief of police for more than 20 years. He was fair and honest. He didn’t tote his badge around like he was King of the world. I’m quite sure he would have handled this much differently.
Reality is this – if somebody called in my plate number, the officer knew who I was and where I lived. Being he was “ready” for me as I came into town, he knew where I likely was heading. So why not just follow me, wait for me to park and roll down your window and say something like “Hey, is everything OK? We got a call and just wanted to check.”
That would have made sense.
Instead, it seems people are always looking for something more. The flashing lights, the flashlight into the mirror and all the hoopla.
Look, I’m a defender of the police. I know many officers still and know their job is dangerous and thankless. But there’s also something to be said about taking things at the level they are. There was no true reason to pull me over, outside of somebody making a phone call. When the officer saw me, I was doing the speed limit, used turn signals and abiding the law.
Society is changing and, in many ways, in bad ways. I give police the benefit of the doubt. I truly hope the intent here was to make sure everything was OK.
I have no issues – none – with being asked where I had been or checking on me because somebody called. But to pull me over near my home and make it like I had done something wrong that was witnessed by the officer, isn’t something I would expect.
I remember how my father handled many things like this. With society changing as it has, I know it would be hard to do things the same way, but it doesn’t mean I can’t hold out hope that there would be exceptions.