All the time we hear horror stories about cops and their power-trips. Sometimes, they get inhumanely excusably violent and other times, they exhibit a lack of common sense in their judgment. I’m glad I didn’t fall into the former category but I did get pulled over on Saturday late afternoon by a cop in a black Charger out in the middle of nowhere aka Clara City – Minnesota.
The Location: I was driving down south on Highway MN-23 towards Granite Falls and then later down to Marshall, Minnesota. Hwy 23’s posted speed limit goes from 55-65 mph depending on where you are and I was cruising just fine at 60 mph when we saw a sign that said “Reduced Speed Ahead” right by the “CLARA CITY – population 1393.” So I cut off the cruise and started applying brakes. 45 mph said the speed posted. 1 block later 40 mph. I was traveling at a “fast” speed of 44 mph. 2 blocks ahead was a sign that said 30 mph but I only noticed that just as I was passing it. The strange thing is this town is roughly 6 blocks along the highway and had 3 different posted signs and not a soul in sight. When you enter it’s 45, then 40, then 30. Just as I was about to slow down, I see lights flashing off a handsome looking black Dodge Charger on my rear-view.
The Encounter: I pull over and the cop takes his sweet time of roughly 2 minutes and comes strolling out to the Hyundai Tiburon. I hand over the license and proof of insurance. He hands me back the insurance card and asks me if I knew why I was being pulled over. I offered “was I speeding Officer?” as my answer to which he agreed and added that I was driving 45 mph on a 30 mph zone. I told him I didn’t see the sign until it was too late and “was just about to slow down” when he came out of hiding.
Cop Lies: He ignored my feeble but honest excuse and then lied to substantiate his power over me by making the accusation that I drove past THREE 30 mph signs. Neither my girlfriend or I could recall THREE SIGNS because at 45 mph on an empty street with no signs of life, all the little things come into focus and we only saw ONE sign that had the “30 mph” posted. The only reason we almost missed it was because it was only like 150 ft away from the 40 mph sign. Didn’t expect one so fast right away like that. They couldn’t possibly have fitted in TWO other 30 mph signposts in between. This didn’t add up but at the time I gave him the benefit of the doubt since he was an “officer of the law” and I didn’t want to end up on one of those COPS videos.
Then he made a comment on our clothes to which I tell him that we were headed out to my former boss’ wedding (and were getting late) over in Marshall before he made a retreat to his car. Late that night when we drove back through the same town, we counted the signs and there was only ONE 30 mph sign post.
Click here to view the Clara City map and location where I was pulled over.
Common sense isn’t very common: Here’s the deal. While we were pulled over, there was a 40 mph sign about 1-2 blocks ahead of me. If I’d gone 1-2 blocks further down at the same speed which is like 3-7 seconds, I would once again be at the right speed limit. The cop had my license for a good 10 or more minutes before he came out again and handed me a $142 speeding citation. He told me that he gave me the maximum speeding fine for going 15 above the posted limit and that I could pay the fine, go to court and appeal it, or sign-up to go to a driving school down by Clara City for $75 which would take away the speeding incident from my driving record. The whole time, he kept repeating “You understand?” after every few words as though I had a hearing impediment. I can take (racist) bullshit like that from white people but not when they’re looking down at me and taking advantage of me financially at the same time.
Heartless Cops in Small Towns: For a first time speeder, how could they even have the heart to give out the maximum fine. The streets were empty and devoid of any traffic stop lights or stop signs. We were heading to a wedding traveling over TWO HOURS south and were tired and weary. This instantly gives out a bad experience to any traveler who decides to go through small towns including the girlfriend and I.
Do understand that throughout the encounter with the cop, I was very respectful in my words and actions AND I complied with everything he said. That being said, I just didn’t think he would dole-out a fine to somebody who has never ever been pulled over for speeding. I’ve seen COPS a million times where officers let first time offenders off the hook if it’s something minor. In some cases, when there’s a safety law broken, the kids are let go off with a verbal. It did not quite translate to that in my case unfortunately.
Good Cop Bad Cop: The real duty of cops are to ensure safety in communities by enforcing the law. As human beings, cops should use common sense to base their actions while policing the neighborhood.
A good cop would let me off the hook with no fine other than a verbal/written warning because he/she knows that once I’ve been reminded of the law, I should be fearful of the rules of that town and the subsequent towns I will have to drive through. All that would stem from the fact that I was respectful towards the police officer, I complied with their demands, and I accepted my fault. To add to it, I was not a threat to anybody since the streets were vacant and there were no traffic lights or stop signs. A violation in the future will ensure I get a ticket for knowingly breaking the law.
A bad cop does his job down to the detail. 14 mph is close enough to 15 mph so slapping the maximum fine of $142 is fair game to them along with a few lies here and there to strengthen their case to the frightened victim.
Disillusionment: Uniform clad law enforcement officials quite often attempt to create a stark contrast in division among people. The small mistakes made by citizens are made punishable to the extent that it creates resentment and disillusionment towards authority which can lead to bigger problems in the future. No wonder why many people hate cops. It is my simple belief that the actions of a few affect many and in my case, the “bad cops” are a shame to the majority of the cops who are honest, hardworking, good folks who’re doing their job to make their community safer and better.
Personal Opinion: To be honest, I don’t have a shard of respect left for the officer who gave me the $142 citation. He saw TWO well dressed Asians in a shiny nice looking sports car from “the cities” and the male driver was very courteous and a possible easy push-over so must’ve automatically thought “rich Asian kids” to justify the guilt trip he might face later on. All I can say is I hope his karma catches up on him someday but I will make sure to put the CITY of CLARA (population 1393) in Minnesota on my list as one of the places to never go back or even pass by again (other than the “driving class” program I have to attend). A police officer is an official representative of his town/city and I felt this one brought out a very negative image of Clara.
Questions: If cops do not exercise a gray area for enforcing the law, do we even need human cops? Are robots/cyborgs better alternatives to the current law enforcement teams once the technology is viable because they could do the same job cheaper and more efficient?