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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Who polices the police?

It's probably time for a rant. I've been way too serious and way too good, lately.
Last night I had the rare pleasure of having some time to sit out on my front porch, which affords me a view of one of Milford's oft ignored stop signs. This particular sign, at the corner of Union and Summit Streets has a big overhead stop sign for each direction, along with a flashing red light. One would assume that it is hard to ignore; or, at least hard to make the claim that, "I didn't see the sign."

Nonetheless, as I sat there last night about 80% of the drivers chose to roll through the sign, slowing only enough to see if there was any traffic approaching from either side. That is pretty much what always happens at this sign, which I hasten to add is at a corner that also has a grade school bordering it. That will play into things more starting tomorrow, once school starts.

Be that as it may; as I sat there watching, one of Milford's finest came down the Summit Street hill and to the stop sign. Not surprisingly he too just slowed and then rolled through the stop. I thought as he did, that, if he were behind some poor unfortunate citizen he would have probably hit the lights and siren and given the poor SOB a ticket. But, who gives tickets to the police, when they break the law? Obviously, for major crimes, we do see police officers getting arrested and prosecuted every so often; but, what about all of the minor stuff? Since this officer did not appear to be on an official run - no lights or siren and not even going that fast - what is his excuse? Is it, I'm the police and I don't have to obey the traffic laws? Is it I'm on official police patrolling business and I don't have time to stop at every sign and light? What?

I suspect the answer lies in basic human nature. He, like every other driver that approaches this sign, has in mind that if he doesn't see any approaching traffic from the cross street, why really stop? Is the issue one of degrees? Is it one of doing what's right? Is is obeying the law, no matter whether there is cross traffic of not? Certainly, I'm not about to claim that I make a complete stop every time at this sign. I probably do it more that most, just because I live at the intersection and therefore feel a special sense of obligation to stop. After all, if I'm going to get indignant if others don't stop, then I should certainly set an example and do what's right.

However, if I ever get stopped and ticketed by one of Milford's police; I'm going to be thinking back to that officer that didn't stop last night and thinking, "who should have given him a ticket?" I guess I can understand if the local ordinance officer is reluctant to ticket a fellow officer who may have parked at the bakery without feeding the meter. After all he may be investigating a report of stale donuts being sold, for which he will undoubtedly have to collect lots of evidence. I assume that police officers, like Realtors, have a code of ethics; which one would have to believe includes upholding the laws themselves. So perhaps that officer from last night, in a fit of ethical remorse, went back to the station and ticketed himself for rolling through the intersection. Somehow, I'm having trouble picturing that.

So there, I've had my rant. Tomorrow, I'll be back to real estate stuff, but I'll likely not forget the case of the roll-through cop.

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