Apollo is a friend of mine who works as a driver for the Cancer Treatment of Centers of America here in Newnan, transporting patients throughout his day.
He leans into me the other night as if to tell me a secret and whispers, “You need to write about all the drivers out there that don’t use their turn signals.”
I know all too well about motorists running to-and-fro as if George Jetson’s distinctive staccato sounding hovercraft was more to their liking than their internal combustion driven pace car sluggishly creeping along behind a yellow caution flag of traffic congestion. Those seemingly saving two minutes weaving in and out of slower moving fast lane monitors becomes ironically useless once they have an accident and spend an hour waiting for police paperwork to be completed.
My natural propensity towards traffic enforcement was more reminiscent of a state trooper than city beat cop. The title of “traffic Nazi” was assigned to a few of us whose traffic enforcement was deliberate and cold-blooded as we seldom shed a tear for the menagerie of excuses once our inquiry as to what their “legal reason” for breaking the law was extended, as if they had a legal reason in the first place.
One guy said he was a doctor speeding towards emergency surgery. Funny how his minivan had no resemblance to an ambulance. I stopped one guy for passing me up in my marked patrol car. Once stopped, I asked him if he was legally blind. He confirmed my suspicions when he said he never actually passed me and that I stopped the wrong car. I stopped one terrified motorist and he flipped his wallet open and said, “Beam me up, Scotty.”
One sure-fire way of beating a ticket…too busy laughing to start writing.
Then there were those pesky violations that drove me crazy. Like putting your license plate in the back window instead of on the rear bumper to keep people from stealing your tag, throwing trash out your window and it hits my windshield in the process, ear drum destroying music that’s not 70’s classics, causing a traffic jam a mile long because they didn’t want to move their fender-bender so as to assist the poor simple minded police in his accident reconstruction efforts, buckling their seat belt once I began walking to their car window and swearing it had been on the whole time, and throwing a freshly written ticket on the ground causing me the additional paperwork of writing another one for littering.
Now one of my real pet peeves was passing a stopped school bus picking up students. I recruited other officers to pick a bus stop on their beat, lay in wait with their lights off, and tear after the dangerous offender. Nothing more upsetting than to work an accident scene involving a small child. Some 20 years ago that offense in Atlanta carried a $600 fine and six points on your license. Wonder if those same efforts are being exhausted in our county and city today?
Then there is the blocking of intersections, namely Bullsboro and Newnan Crossing Bypass, by motorists failing to clear the intersection while turning. I had that same situation on my beat and I ticketed every violator that stopped on-coming traffic until that became a rarity. I challenge similar enforcement efforts by my brothers-in-blue.
Law enforcement cannot be everywhere, all the time, and most traffic offenders continue their crafty ways without consequences. Best thing for us all to do is drive defensively because "the offense" is out to get us.
The Precinct Press is authored by W.J. Butcher, a retired 26-year veteran of the Atlanta Police Department. Send comments, kudos, and criticism to: firstname.lastname@example.org .