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Posted: 1/11/2006 12:53:55 PM EDT
Okay. This may or may not have been asked. In my miserly way, I still haven't paid to be able to search everything.

But. Serious question, and no bashing intended. I want to know the mode of thinking here, as the staties have been hard at it around here on the speeders.

(And up front, no, I have not been stopped. I learned several years ago that speeding fines and traffic school are not worth the cost of getting there 1.3 minutes faster.)

Anyway. My point.

Why do police stop speeders / other moving violations (Not DUI stuff) with no intention of writing a ticket?

I know that sometimes, it depends on driver attitude. Obviously, if you've got joe sixpack that behaves respectfully, doesn't try to bullshit you, etc., you might be inclined to let him off or downgrade his ticket...

But why, really? He was going 75, not 65, like you wrote the ticket for. Or god forbid, he was speeding, and you sent him on his way with a warning, and no ticket at all. He was the guy, amongst the three or four sipping past, that you decided to pop... Why let him off easy now?

Why is it that traffic stops can involve this sort of judgment call, but not other police-related activities? It seems that in some places, officers have a pretty broad scope of options when conducting a routine traffic stop. Why are you able to be Johnny Hardass here, or simply slap a wrist, yet you have your hands tied in other situations?

Anyway. I'm just honestly curious. I wll say that yes, i've screwed up, and yes, I have certainly appreciated the officer letting me slide with the warning. But i've also had to sit there and get the fifteen minute daddy-lecture from some guy who's having a bad day, and then be let off, which to me seemed like a waste of time for everyone involved.
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 1:20:25 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/11/2006 1:24:35 PM EDT by npd233]

Originally Posted By mattimeo:

Why is it that traffic stops can involve this sort of judgment call, but not other police-related activities?

Anyway. I'm just honestly curious. I wll say that yes, i've screwed up, and yes, I have certainly appreciated the officer letting me slide with the warning. But i've also had to sit there and get the fifteen minute daddy-lecture from some guy who's having a bad day, and then be let off, which to me seemed like a waste of time for everyone involved.



It is called discretion, and officers have it when dealing with everything they encounter. Obviously some things are more serious and the officer's discretion in those cases tends to be on the side of deciding to charge an offender. Of all the things we do, traffic is the most visible because more often than not, citizens only interaction with police usually involves a traffic situation, whether stopped for a violation or involved in a crash.

The contact leads to further conversation down the line with one's friends, and so on. So whether or not the officer was nice or not, or whether the guy received a ticket or not, will determine how the story gets told.

You just don't hear murderers, child abusers, drug dealers, etc, running around telling stories of how they just got "the break of the century" because the officer decided to just give them a warning instead.

Human compassion and common sense enter the decision making process as well as the vehicle codes, the specific infraction, the driving record of the offender, the other traffic volume, etc. It's not like the officer is back in the squad turning his Magic upside down to determine whether someone gets a ticket or not.

On occasion, I used to tell drivers I'll say nothing and write you a citation, or give you a lecture and a warning.

Guess which one they always chose?

A roadside lecture from the mouth of a police officer often can have more of an impact on someone's future driving behavior than receiving and paying a ticket. I get the chance to explain the "why" to them, from the point of view of the other drivers on the road, and the message always seems to be understood.


Link Posted: 1/11/2006 1:39:24 PM EDT

Originally Posted By mattimeo:
Okay. This may or may not have been asked. In my miserly way, I still haven't paid to be able to search everything.

But. Serious question, and no bashing intended. I want to know the mode of thinking here, as the staties have been hard at it around here on the speeders.

(And up front, no, I have not been stopped. I learned several years ago that speeding fines and traffic school are not worth the cost of getting there 1.3 minutes faster.)

Anyway. My point.

Why do police stop speeders / other moving violations (Not DUI stuff) with no intention of writing a ticket?

Ever been fishing? You catch a small one and throw it back. I stop traffic violators because I am checking you out..ie valid DL and ins, run you for warrants, check criminal history. About 10% of the stops I make, there is some sort of arrestable offense other than traffic. BTW, in Texas we may arrest for most traffic violations. I make several traffic stops, but write very few citations.

I know that sometimes, it depends on driver attitude. Obviously, if you've got joe sixpack that behaves respectfully, doesn't try to bullshit you, etc., you might be inclined to let him off or downgrade his ticket...

I have never downgraged a violation. I stop you for speeding, I may write you another violation (exp DL, no ins, exp inspect, no registration) and let you slide on the speeding.

But why, really? He was going 75, not 65, like you wrote the ticket for. Or god forbid, he was speeding, and you sent him on his way with a warning, and no ticket at all. He was the guy, amongst the three or four sipping past, that you decided to pop... Why let him off easy now?

Why is it that traffic stops can involve this sort of judgment call, but not other police-related activities? It seems that in some places, officers have a pretty broad scope of options when conducting a routine traffic stop. Why are you able to be Johnny Hardass here, or simply slap a wrist, yet you have your hands tied in other situations?

I have discretion in almost all areas of offenses. In Texas, we must arrest for family violence when the chance of further violence is likely. You commit a theft, burglary, assault, weapon offense, or a drug offense, you are probably going to jail. You run a stop sign you might get a warning, or you might get a ticket. You tell me who is a greater danger, the guy who does a California roll through a stop sign or the guy who beats the crap out of his wife.

Anyway. I'm just honestly curious. I wll say that yes, i've screwed up, and yes, I have certainly appreciated the officer letting me slide with the warning. But i've also had to sit there and get the fifteen minute daddy-lecture from some guy who's having a bad day, and then be let off, which to me seemed like a waste of time for everyone involved.

Yes, there are some officers that give lectures. Not me. You are either getting a verbal warning, no lecture (stop takes about 2 minutes tops) or you are getting a citation.

Link Posted: 1/11/2006 1:47:41 PM EDT
My thinking is a warning to a nice considerate person who didn't put anyone else in danger with his/her speeding may think about it next time and slow down on their own. But if their attiude sucks, sign here please!

Steve

Link Posted: 1/11/2006 2:16:54 PM EDT
I personally can't stand doing traffic,absolutely hate it. However, if I happen to pull someone over for a traffic violation only,it must have been something so bad I actually stopped them,now that doesn't always mean getting a ticket. I usually give warnings to the elderly and am not very stern about it, after all they have been driving since before I was born, but if I get any kind of attitude from a youngster they get hammered with everything and the kitchen sink. I think I am very nice to begin with and like it when people are nice to me and I haven't written a ticket in years. On the other hand, dope dealers get NO MERCY.
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 2:22:21 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/11/2006 2:23:52 PM EDT by Agent8905]
My thing is, sometimes a warning will go a long ways for a person. Warnings sometimes do the trick. If the person is acting like a jerk, and has history of convictions, i will probably tell them to press hard, 5 copies.

Traffic stops are also used to find other violations, such as drugs, OUI, and other such violations.

Speeding isn the worst thing you can do, but the more visble you are making traffic stops, and even though you arent writting summons, the hint will still get out there that speeding will NOT be tolerated.
Link Posted: 1/11/2006 3:14:22 PM EDT
Thank you. I appreciate the logical and truthful responses.

I just wanted it from the officer's perspective as to why these things play out the way they do.
Link Posted: 1/12/2006 8:50:04 AM EDT
I also hate doing traffic.
I don't usually stop anyone unless they were doing at least 15 mph over the posted limit or are driving like an ass (multiple lane changes w/o signalling, etc...). Even still, I usually hand out more warnings than I do summonses.
If the person is polite, apologetic , their license is valid and they don't have any previous warnings (our CAD system keeps track of warnings) then they will get a warning.
If they already had a warning for the year, then I'll write them and maybe downgrade it a little but if they are shitty or especially if they try to argue on the side of the road, they get stroked for every violation I can find.
Link Posted: 1/12/2006 3:08:08 PM EDT
One of my favorite things to do sometimes is. If the person I stop is over the top, a pain the ass and a total jerk, cussing the whole time at me. When I return to the vehicle with his license. I tell him that he is not reciving a ticket, however I had already decided that you weren't getting a ticket when I made the stop. So perhaps you should think about how rude you were to me Because next time you might get every ticket I can think of. Most of the time they say how sorry they are or are real quiet. Hehe!



Link Posted: 1/12/2006 3:28:44 PM EDT
I work on the theory of minimally required response.

If during the interview phase I see the guy is being upfront and honest about the whole thing, and I believe a warning will correct the behavior, that's what he gets. If I catch him in a whine or lie, or if he pulls an attitude, a warning is obviously not going to have the desired effect and out comes the book.

Folks that engage in downright intimidation can end up in cuffs.

You'd be amazed how many folks try the latter approach.
Link Posted: 1/13/2006 5:45:08 AM EDT
Just moved to MO and already have a lot of respect for the LEO's here. I've been pulled over twice and both times the officers were respectful and helpful.

1st time I was doing about 58 in a 55, but when the officer pulled me over he asked how long I'd lived here. I told him 34 days and he informed me that I only had 30 days to switch the plates over on my truck. The DMV had told me 60. He let me off with a warning and a promise to get my plates changed. Of course, I did the next day.

2nd time I got pulled over and the officer said, "I suppose you've been warned about your window tinting." I replied, "No, sir." He then informed me that in MO a certain percentage of light has to be let in. He tested my windows and it was nowhere near that percentage. He let me off with a promise to remove the window tint. Of course, I did that later that day. He did write a citation because I couldn't find my insurance card. BUT, he told me if I took documentation to the courthouse that showed I had insurance on that day, it would be dismissed.

Long story short. 2 pull-overs. 4 potential justified citations. 3 warnings, 1 dismissed citation and a good education. I know its my responsibility to know the law, but I really appreciated the breaks and the lesson.
Link Posted: 1/13/2006 7:50:01 AM EDT
Why warnings? Well I don't write many tickets but when I do it's a good one. I wrote my first of the year to a guy two days ago for 51 in a 30. He was late for work and asked for a warning and was a nice guy but for that speed in a residential neighborhood everyone gets a ticket. I don't usually intend to write tickets to everyone I stop. I am looking for wanted people, stolen vehicles, DWI, narcotics, etc when I do stops. Tickets are the last thing on my mind but I use the traffic violation to look for these things.
Link Posted: 1/13/2006 3:08:28 PM EDT
Many crimes involve the use of motor vehicles. People generally drive a motor vehicle to get from point A to point B, WANTED PERSONS INCLUDED.

These are the 2 main reasons the guys/gals on my shift work traffic, and for a Sheriff's Department, we work traffic hard.

You never know what your gonna get when you do a traffic stop... Ted Bundy and Timothy Mcvey (sp) are examples of how traffic stops for minor infractions lead to the breaking of important cases.

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