Cops Above the Law: The Friends and Family Plan
As enforcers of the law, police have some leeway when it comes to obeying it. For instance, a cop on duty may legally run a red light when responding to an emergency. But if they want to, they can often get away with it even when not responding to an emergency. And because they work with and are friends with other cops, they can often get away with quite a number of minor (and occasionally not so minor) infractions. Being a cop is kind of like being a "get out of jail free" card. Is it fair? Some would say it's a small price to pay for these folks to keep us safe from the bad guys.
But what about when those "get out of jail free" perks are extended to the friends and families of cops? Is THAT fair?
Personally knowing a cop doesn't make you a better person. It doesn't make you one of the "good guys." BEING a cop doesn't even make you one of the "good guys!" If anything, knowing a cop makes it MORE likely you'll speed or fail to stop at that red light, because you know you can get off with a slap on the wrist.
Here's what one cop had to say regarding Fraternal Order of Police Courtesy Cards:
"My family all carry FOP or OPBA (Ohio Patrolmans Benevolent Assn) cards. If they are stopped for a MINOR traffic infraction, the officer who stopped them can choose to give them a pass and take away the card. The card must be signed by an officer to be official and the driver better personally know the officer on the card or I do not accept them. Think of it as a perk for willing to get shot at 40 hours a week for minimal pay.
9 months ago
And this is from an article about another Ohio cop, Officer Rounds, after he ticketed a young lady (Harley) for speeding:
"Back in the car, Rounds mentioned that he knew a police officer who shared Harley's last name, and who lived in the same neighborhood. If she had mentioned a connection, "nine times out of 10, probably," the woman could have gotten off with just a warning."
If you can give bad press, then you're also safe to speed in the realm of Officer Rounds:
"He spotted two speeders there on a recent afternoon: On the first, Rounds threw his car into gear but then quickly backed down when he saw that it was a blue local TV station car.
"That would really make us look bad," he said. "I'd be washing cars tomorrow."
Rounds also advises:
"If you have a law enforcement "courtesy card" -- a wallet size, get-out-of-jail-free card police officers give their friends -- don't be shy about using it. "If you are stopped, what you do is put the license and registration with the courtesy card right on top," Rounds said. That way, the officer will be sure to see it before starting to write the ticket.
Nurses or doctors who say they are on their way to surgery, firefighters, law enforcement officers and their relatives often get a free pass. Again, bring it up before the ticket is started.
By itself, a Fraternal Order of Police sticker in the car window is not an effective shield against tickets. Better is the FOP license plate, which is only available to those with law enforcement connections. In any case, don't be shy about mentioning your association with the FOP."
For the record, there seems to be all sorts of "get out of jail" paraphernalia: courtesy cards, family cards, triangles, shields, etc. And some carry more weight than others.
Is it fair? Let's ask a law professor.
"There is an insidious nature to it, even if it is only used in its most innocuous sense, to get out of a traffic ticket," said Lewis Katz, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University. "It says that there are two sets of rules out there: one for people who have a brother badge or a courtesy card, and another set for those that don't."
(on the Dysamoria.com blog, where this was originally published, there was a mighty clever comment... blogavoidant said... "Paying for protection... a la mafia?"
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Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada