“Is your license really valid?”

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The other night I decided to watch a stop sign in a neighborhood because of a complaint. I parked at an L shaped intersection in plain view for all to see. I was parked along the curb in the dark when this car passed me on the left as it approached the stop sign. The car rolled through the stop and made its turn like I wasn’t there. I threw my lights on and stopped the car, wondering what the heck the driver was thinking.

I walked up to the car and asked the driver why she didn’t stop for the stop sign and if she saw the police car. At first, the driver told me she stopped. After further questioning and a Jedi Mind Trick, she admitted to not stopping. I next asked her if she had a license.

“Not with me,” she replied.

“Where is it at?”

“It broke in half two days ago.”

That was one of the dumbest excuses I had ever heard. Now I was sure her license was either suspended or she was never issued one.

“Is your license valid?”

“Yes.”

I walked back to my car and entered her name into the computer. I knew it was a waste of time because there was no way her license was valid after the “broke in half” excuse. Call me skeptical, but it was a gut feeling.

Of course, it wasn’t valid. Her license expired in 2009 and she had two prior convictions for driving on a suspended license. Her license wasn’t just barely expired. It was really, really expired.

I couldn’t believe she tried telling me it was valid, but it was a nice try. I went back up to the driver and asked her about her license. She again told me it was valid. When do these people give up?

She next said it was set to be renewed in December of 2015. She was getting nervous at this point and started talking more and more. She then said something about failing the written test.

I asked her how many times she had failed the written test in the last year. She said, “Six times.”

“You know, they don’t make you take the test six times if you already have a valid driver’s license?”

“I have to take the test to renew it.”

That’s when she threw out one more excuse, hoping it would stick on the wall somewhere.

“I have a permit.”

“Ok. Show it to me.”

“It’s in storage,” she said.

“That doesn’t make sense. No one would put their permit in storage when they need it to drive,” I said.

Now she needed a diversion. She raised her voice and told me cops make her nervous because of all the things that happen on the news.

“Have I done anything wrong?” I asked.

“No.”

Good, I wanted that for my body worn camera in case she tried to complain about me. I went back to my car and started writing her the ticket. I also called for a tow truck.

When I went back up to the driver door she was upset. She signed the ticket and asked to keep the car. I told her it was getting impounded because her license expired 6 years ago.

She exited the car and said, “I bet you’d let me keep the car if I was white.”

I almost laughed when I heard that since the driver and I were both Hispanic. I wanted so bad to say, “Nope, I’d take the car if you were white too,” but I held my tongue.

Then with a mean and sarcastic tone she said, “Thank you for protecting and serving,”

“Your welcome,” I replied.

She turned toward me with all the evilness she could muster. She even threw some imaginary darts my way with her eyes. Who cares? She lied and I was just doing my job. She could’ve stopped for the stop sign and made things easier for both of us.

After she left I told the tow truck driver what she said. He laughed as he said, “You take everybody’s car. It doesn’t matter if they’re white, black, Asian or Hispanic. If they’re wrong you take the car.”

At least the tow truck driver knew I was fair!

A few days letter there was a note in my mailbox at work from the driver. She left it after getting a release for the impound. The note said she was sorry for being rude at the end of the stop. It also said she was lagging and she finally got her license back.

She wasn’t such a bad person after all. She was just really mad because her car was impounded and that remark was the best she could come up with. At least she has her license now. I bet she stops the next time she comes up to that stop sign.

It’s not every day you get an apology from someone. I actually appreciated the note because she didn’t have to write it. Just another happy ending in police work.

He just doesn’t get it

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It’s amazing how some people can’t accept responsibility for their actions. You can see that anywhere, but you really see it in police work. People want to whine and complain when you do your job, but never realize they were the ones who brought the attention to themselves.

The other night I was working a stop sign in a residential neighborhood because of a complaint. I was there less than 2 minutes before someone ran it.

I stopped the car and asked the driver for his license. He gave me the look I’ve seen many times. The shoulders sagged at the same time the chin touched his chest with heavy breathing. It was the look of a person with a suspended license. I’d seen it so many times I could just tell.

He started looking through his wallet as he said, “I hope I have it.”

“I hope you have it too,” I replied with a laugh.

After digging for some time he gave me a mutilated California identification card. It was in three pieces and had been taped back together. I thought how I’ve seen broken legs at crashes that looked better than his identification card.

At first he told me he didn’t have his license with him. After further questioning he finally admitted it was suspended for not paying a ticket. I asked him about the stop sign and he said he stopped. After further questions he finally admitted to running it.

I checked his license status and confirmed what I thought. His driving record looked as bad as his identification card.

I wrote him a ticket for the stop sign and the suspended license. He signed it and I told him the car was being impounded.

At this point most people accept their fate and get out. They might not be happy, but they get out because there is nothing they can do about it. For the most part, they’re still easy to deal with after that.

Not this guy. He was an 18 years old cry baby who said, “Give me a chance” over and over. He just wouldn’t accept no for an answer.

I pointed out to him all the bad choices he made to get to this point, but he didn’t get it. The whining continued as he asked if someone could pick up the car for him. I told him no. He asked for another chance. Again, the answer was no. He said, “I’m begging.” Again, the answer was no. He went on and on. He just wouldn’t stop. It got to the point where he reminded me a 4 year old when they don’t get their way.

That’s when I figured out he was used to getting his way. This was how he got people to give in. He was a whiner and a cry baby. Plain and simple.

By this point my patience were running out about as fast as an Olympic sprinter going for the gold medal. This guy refused to accept responsibility for any of his actions and still thought he was going to keep the car.

I finally said, “Get out of the car. Nothing you say or do is going to change anything.”

With a hurt look he told me I wasn’t being cool. He finally gave up and exited the car. He gathered his things and acted like the victim. All I could do was shake my head and wonder how he was going to handle life when curve balls were thrown his way.

I’m guessing not well and there will probably being some whining involved too.

“Why didn’t you stop for the red light?”

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People are funny because they tend to all say the same thing in similar situations when the police catch them doing something wrong. There are some answers that you can bet on to be the same every time.

These common answers can be fun to work with because you can see them coming a mile away. Of course, it depends on the situation, but there are times when I can be two questions ahead of someone because I’ve already been in that particular situation thousands of times before.

“I paused” is one such answer when it comes to failing to stop for a stop sign or a red light.

I recently stopped a man for making a right turn against a red light at an intersection without stopping. He did it right in front of me, so I pulled him over. After he stopped, I walked up on the driver side and asked him for his driver’s license. I then asked him about the violation while he looked through his wallet.

“Why didn’t you stop for the red light?” I asked.

“I paused.”

“You paused?”

“Yes, I paused.”

“Do you have a DVR at home?” I asked.

“Yes,” the man answered with a confused look on his face.

“When you’re watching a movie and you press the pause button what happens to the movie?”

“It stops.”

“So, why didn’t you stop for the red light then?

It was like the wheels were turning in his head as he squinted, trying to figure out what just happened. The look on his face was great because he wasn’t expecting that question. That might have been the first time he heard that question, but it was probably my one hundredth time asking it. This then set up my next question.

“So, you really didn’t stop, right?”

“No,” he said with a defeated look.