Monday, January 7, 2008

Effective Use Of Law Enforcement Resources

On Saturday, January 5, 2008 two of my good friends and I were cited by the College Station Police Department for a traffic violation in a student residential area of town. The streets in that area of town were very low traffic, especially during the semester break while the Texas A&M student body was still home for the holidays.

The criminal act involved a rolling right turn through a stop sign. To our left was a cul-de-sac street having no traffic that I'd ever seen - even when the students were in town. We looked left as we entered the intersection, (no cars coming) made a sweeping turn to our right at about 8 mph, and kept well to the right in a controlled, well coordinated turn.

To our surprise, the police officer was sitting in the cul-de-sac apparently waiting for traffic violators and stop sign runners. She turned on her siren and lights and we stopped immediately. She obtained our identification and promptly wrote out three traffic tickets for running the stop sign. We were detained for about 50 minutes on the side of the road.

The interesting thing about this case? My friends and I were on our bicycles. When the officer asked for my driver's license, I did not believe I needed a driver's license to operate a human powered vehicle upon the highways and byways of College Station, Texas. Moreover, during the 8000+ miles I rode each year for the past ten years, I've never been cited for a traffic violation before, although I probably violated a traffic code provision here and there.

I didn't really mind getting stopped for going through the stop sign as I was the instigator, leading the small, but elite cadre of riders through the intersection without fully complying with the traffic laws of this state. However, I did think getting a ticket was a little over the top. A stern warning probably would have sufficed, citing rider safety and the like. We always wear our helmets, by the way. Furthermore, I thought the officer's use of her time was a bit suspect, detaining a small, and for the most part, law abiding group for close to an hour. If she was trying to prove a point, she had made it when the siren came on.

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