Cops should catch criminals, not create them
This isnt a big city, and we dont have big city problems. So, why do I feel vulnerable to the intrusive presence of those employed to serve and protect?I work in downtown Truckee in a job that often lets out near midnight. I have been pulled over four times in the past two months on my way home from work, but I have received no tickets. Why? Because Ive been lucky? Nope. Because Ive committed no crimes. Police need reasonable suspicion to pull a driver over. So far as I can tell, the red-and-blue-sirens have supposed that simply moving after dark provides sufficient suspicion for a stop. Is there a curfew Im unaware of? We dont live in Nazi-occupied Poland or post-invasion Iraq, so why am I constantly harassed for driving at night?Police have tailed me, waiting for the slightest excuse for a roadside test in hopes of a DUI. As a designated driver on New Years, I had one drink. When two officers pulled up before we loaded my parked car, they began their harassment routine. I volunteered to be breathalyzed, which surprised them. The LCD read .032, but rather than tell me to be on my way safely, they suggested my blood alcohol content was rising, and so they would be following me home. Would they give us a ride home? No. OK, so where do serving or protecting come in to play here?Last month I was pulled over for speeding by 4 miles per hour. So, recently when a cop followed me (too) closely for 2 miles, I was cautious to drive 35 on the same stretch of 40 mph road. On went the blinding lights behind me, with the following conversation:Officer: Do you know why I pulled you over?J. Dobbs: Because I was going 35 in a 40?Officer: Thats right. You were going 35 in a 40. Why were you driving so slow?J. Dobbs: I knew you were following me, and it made me nervous. You have certainly made your presence known recently.As a law-abider, I have nothing to hide, which is what infuriates me since I am frequently inconvenienced often with aggressive and accusatory language. That night I answered honestly that yes, I had consumed one beer. Eyes perked above a shining badge. I was given a penlight eye-tracking test to determine my intoxication and simultaneously subjected to a rapid series of questions about my evening.From no fault of my own, my heart beat out of my chest. Another vehicle arrived, and another officer greeted me at my window to administer the exact same sequence of tests before walking back to discourse with the original officer. It must be a good time to be a member of the new Truckee police on a holiday weekend if our $5 million forces werent strong enough already (thats $313 per capita here, versus $246 per capita in urban Los Angeles) we hosted 26 additional vehicles and officers from nearby communities.The officer then told me: After viewing your eye-tracking patterns, we believe your BAC is over .06, and is likely rising. The limit is .08, so youre pretty close. I was asked to drive home, and informed that speed limits are posted for a reason, and unless weather conditions prohibit, I must drive at the speed posted. This was a warm, clear night and the roads are perfectly dry. There is no reason you can’t drive 40.My question and concern from this and similar situations experienced by others is that the police seem to be encroaching into the legislative branch where they dont belong. Law enforcers ought to stick to their job description of catching criminals, rather than trying to create criminals out of the rest of us.This incident is not isolated. Police I have encountered are often unprofessional, discourteous and downright rude. I feel less safe because they are undisciplined. Pulled onto the shoulder of West River Street with migraine-inducing lights flashing in my rearview, I was unable to express my true opinion. Instead, I waited 45 minutes until I was allowed to drive on, unticketed, with no apology.I rolled up my window and tried to place a hyper-quivering right foot on the gas pedal. I pulled into my driveway at a perfect right angle, but it wasnt until I was inside my locked house away from those instated to serve and protect that I felt at ease. Of course, it would be hours until my pounding heart let me sleep.Jason Dobbs is a Truckee resident.
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