Thursday, October 06, 2011

Captive Audience


A woman’s car was having trouble on a major roadway in Houston, allegedly, so it was reported she pulled off to the side of the road; I’ll get to “allegedly” later on.  An officer of the law issued her a ticket for “driving on the shoulder and decided to arrest her”; sounds a little over the top for a minor traffic violation; but having dealt with the public often times things “escalate”.

“To make matters worse, Boyd claims in a lawsuit that the handcuffs were put on her wrists painfully tight and that she was forced to listen to conservative broadcaster Rush Limbaugh “make derogatory comments about black people” all the way to the jail. Boyd is African-American.”

According to the article written by Mike Tolson in the Houston Chronicle, she’s suing everyone involved.

Some folks, upon reading the article may have become indignant after seeing only half the information regarding this incident; there was no comment offered by the Sheriff’s Department.  I began laughing; but it had nothing to do with the actual incident, rather it reminded me of something which happened many years ago on night shift.

My old partner, Bob Kersten, was the station sergeant at NW.  Some of the folks sitting in temporary holding cells were “unappreciative” of the music being piped into the jail; for that matter all over the police substation, don’t think anyone liked Baroque classical.  I happened to wander in off patrol to the pleadings of the desk officer, “Turn that stuff off, please!”   Those in the jail used other words; all things considered there’s nothing worthy of a law suit for damages caused by Baroque music.

At one time I worked downtown during the day and “allegedly” happened upon a woman parked in a moving lane of traffic outside a bank where she was waiting for someone to cash a check.  She was instructed to move along as she was backing up traffic; but she refused saying it would only be a few more minutes.  When asked for her driver’s license she “allegedly” turned up the music so high folks a block away could have heard it and then turned away as if by doing so I’d disappear; I didn’t.

The car she was driving was nifty little sports car, a Nissan 260 Z with the “T-tops” removed as it was a beautiful clear blue sky kind of day.  When I continued to ask for her driver’s license she “allegedly” climbed up on top of the car and sat on the bar which separated the open “T-tops”.  

I commented, “If you want to act like a baboon it’s fine with me; however…”, and pointing to the uniformed supervisor who was standing across the street watching this unfold, “…you can hand me your driver’s license, sign the ticket and move on down the road or go directly to jail.”  She had a sudden change of attitude and signed the ticket.

In other unrelated incidents, when I issued traffic tickets I had my own version of short hand scribbled in a small vacant spot in the corner of the ticket to help my memory of the violation months later in court.  My traffic judge at the time thought he’d figured out my system as I’d testified to red light violations over an extended period of time he’d match my testimony with the numbers and letters coded on the bottom.

One day after I’d testified about a female violator who’d run a red light by 3 car lengths the traffic judge wanted something clarified.  Restating what he thought I’d said, “So, Officer Stern, you said she ran the red light by 3 and a half car lengths?” 

“No, Sir.  I said she ran the red light by 3 car lengths.”  There was a noticeable pause as he looked down at what was written in the corner of the ticket.

“Then what’s this 3 and ½ notation?”  Things like that aren’t supposed to happen; judges aren’t supposed to introduce testimony.  The prosecutor tried looking at the floor as the judge began to blush.

“The 3 means she ran the red light by 3 car lengths while the ½ means she put her foot through the floor and went out of her way to run the red light, Your Honor.”  

The judge considered the information and then asked, “Then what’s this letter “B” for?”  That was an awkward moment as I searched my mind for an acceptable answer which would not be too crude.

“The “B” means, ah…she was, ah…Belligerent, Your Honor”, thinking to myself how fortunate it was to have a better than average vocabulary available on the spur of a moment.

I’ve no idea what transpired the other night when the woman “allegedly” drove on the freeway shoulder and got hauled off to jail and had to listen to conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh; I wasn’t there.  I don’t remember the name of the woman who climbed up on top of her car so many years ago and acted like a baboon; but wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a kindred spirit.  Police officers are faced with all manner of folks.  Depending on how civilized they act often times determines how a minor traffic offense turns into a can of worms. 

This article has been cross posted to The Moral Liberal , a publication whose banner reads, “Defending The Judeo-Christian Ethic, Limited Government, & The American Constitution”.

1 comment:

MK said...

Funny stories TF, I sometimes get to watch those cop shows and there certainly are some stupid people out there.

On a side note, i wonder if she is suing Rush Limbaugh too.