Everyone that reads this blog should have a pretty good idea of how I feel about cops and the sneaky ways that they target drivers. They pull people over for a variety of reasons, but the number one reason that South Florida drivers get traffic tickets is for speeding. That fact alone is bothersome enough, but when you consider the number of times that you see cops speeding without just cause and few ramifications, it can be infuriating.
I recently heard a story which I felt resulted in a bit of justice for the little guy. A semi-truck driver named Brian Miner witnessed a state trooper speeding and talking on a cell phone during wet road conditions. He blew his horn at the trooper, who then proceeded to pull Brian over for doing so. Brian videoed the entire interaction and posted it on Youtube. At first the state trooper was rather aggressive and defensive, but once Miner pointed out that he was recording the event, it seemed to adjust the trooper’s attitude.
This story made national news when it appeared on CBS This Morning, but it is hardly the only such event to occur. In 2012, an investigation by the Sun-Sentinel resulted in 44 Miami-Dade police officers being castigated for consistently driving in excess of 90 mph in county vehicles. About 50% of the time when they committed these speeding violations, they were off duty. Even while on duty, many of these officers drove much faster than the department’s policy allowed even in urgent situations. Thirty-nine of the officers that committed these speeding infractions were sanctioned by losing the privilege of taking home the county vehicles for a month and most were required to attend an 8-hour driver’s safety training course. That doesn’t sound like a very stiff penalty, does it?
This investigation was conducted over the course of more than a year and included law enforcement from numerous agencies. A review of SunPass records showed that nearly 800 police officers from these various agencies drove between 90 and 130 mph at least once over the course of the investigation. As is often the case when the media gets involved in incidences of misconduct, this incited the police agencies to perform their own investigations which resulted in 138 officers being disciplined from not only different agencies, but also various counties. Most of these cops received nothing more than a reprimand, and only two of these Miami officers were terminated as a result of this particular investigation.
In a similar but separate incident, another Miami police officer was eventually fired for fleeing at speeds in excess of 100 mph from a Florida State Trooper. This was an especially egregious speeding violation as the trooper pursued the officer for 18 miles, eventually arresting him. The Miami cop was speeding on surface streets in a City of Miami police cruiser while going to his second job. The subsequent investigation showed that he was the most frequent speeding offender of all the officers that had been involved in the prior investigation. As shown in the previously mentioned investigation, cops seldom suffer this kind of serious ramification for speeding, or for committing other traffic violations for which the rest of would be issued a traffic ticket. To further illustrate that many cops feel they are above the law, this police officer was recorded saying, “You are not going to put handcuffs on me. I’m a cop.”
The average citizen faces a minimum of three points on his or her license, a stiff fine, court costs, and probably an insurance rate hike when they are issued a speeding ticket. The greater the disparity in the driver’s speed from that of the speed limit, the greater the consequences for the speeding ticket. Not only should police officers who take advantage of their position suffer similar penalties, but they should be held to a higher standard and, therefore, face greater punishment than the average driver.
Charles Miller, a retired Miami-Dade Police captain, stated that discipline is a necessary first step. Responsible driving needs to be drilled in to officers starting with recruits in the police academies, and supervisors must keep constant watch to stop unnecessary speeding, he said.
“The bottom line is that those same officers who would stop you and I for speeding have no business violating the same traffic laws that they enforce on a daily basis, yet they do it far too frequently,” Miller said. “For far too long, this has been a significant problem and the results in terms of injuries, deaths, lawsuits and ruined careers are staggering.”
Like me, many other citizens who drive in South Florida counties are outraged by this abuse of power and feel that the punishments that have been meted out to those cops involved was not nearly severe enough. These are the people that we trust to help us in emergency situations and to protect our lives and the lives of our loved ones. These flagrant acts of speeding are not only self-serving, but endanger the lives of everyone on the roadway around them. In fact, from 2004 until 2012, 21 people were killed or injured by Florida cops who were speeding, often to routine calls. Regrettably, even those cops who have a history of speeding that end up causing a traffic accident rarely see disciplinary action that parallels the consequences that other drivers would face for the same offense.
I find cops speeding to be particularly offensive. Not only should cops set the standards of good driving habits for the rest of us, but the money that we pay in traffic tickets pays for police vehicles and the gas to go in them, as well as police salaries, benefits, and so on. If you get a speeding ticket or another type of traffic citation, give the Traffic Ticket Team a call at 954-967-9888 for a free consultation. We are here to help protect your rights and to try to ensure that you get the consideration in traffic court that you are entitled to.