I wasn’t texting

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On Friday night, I was stopped for a red light when the glow of a cell phone caught my eye in the car next to me.

I looked over and saw the driver holding the phone in her hand as she touched the screen. She then opened up an iMessage and started texting with both thumbs.

The light turned green and traffic started to go, but I waited for the driver to proceed forward. With the phone still in her hand and thumbs flying across the keyboard at 200 words a minute, the car started to go.

I took my foot off the gas and rolled forward just as the driver looked over at me. Amazingly the phone dropped from view like a rock plummeting to the bottom of a pond.

I got behind her and put my lights on to stop the car. Little did the driver know this was going to be an educational stop rather than a ticket as long as she didn’t lie.

After the car stopped, I walked up to the driver door and asked her for her driver’s license. After she handed me her license I asked, “Why were you texting?”

The driver said, “I wasn’t texting.”

Really???

“You were texting while the car was moving.”

“I was getting directions.”

“You have an iPhone. I have an iPhone. I know what a iMessage looks like. You were texting. I watched you open up the screen and type something. You then opened up an iMessage and started texting.”

At this point the teenager raised the white flag of surrender and said she was texting. I looked at her license and saw that the birth year was 2000.

“How old are you?” I asked.

“I’m 16.”

It was 11PM and she had two passengers. In California you can’t drive between 11PM and 5AM, nor can you transport passengers under age of 20 years old in the first year.

I looked at both passengers and asked them their ages. Both were 17 years old. I looked at the driver and asked, “What’s the restriction on your license?”

She told me she knew about not transporting passengers and driving after 11PM.

I said, “I’m going to write you a ticket for the passengers, but not the cell phone.” I explained that new drivers her age get distracted easily and are usually at fault when they crash with passengers in their car and while disobeying the restriction.

I think it stung a little when I told her, “If you told the truth I wouldn’t have noticed your age or the restriction.”

Hopefully she learned something from the stop.

“I have a clean record”

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“234, we just got rear ended,” said an officer on the radio.

He gave his location and advised there were no injuries. I grabbed the microphone and said, “729 en route.”

When I arrived, I saw both vehicles in the southbound #2 lane at the intersection. The officer told me they were stopped for a red light when they were hit from behind.

He also told me the SUV’s driver was unlicensed. I shook my head as I thought about the two times my patrol cars were hit by unlicensed drivers.

I walked up to the woman, who was still in the driver seat, and asked her to step out of the car so we could talk on the sidewalk.

“You want me to drive over there?” She asked.

“No, you don’t have a license. Come out and we’ll talk on the sidewalk.”

“I can drive over there,” she said as she pointed to the right.

I was pretty sure she’d already done enough driving for tonight. After she exited the car we walked to the sidewalk. Once we were safe on the sidewalk the woman said, “I have a clean record.”

Well, that made me feel better…..

During the interview I learned she applied for a driver’s license and failed the written test. When I heard that, I almost pointed to the cars and said, “You failed the driving test too,” but I held my tongue.

When the interview was over, I gave the driver a card with the report number on it and said her car was getting impounded. She responded by asking if she could keep the car.

Keep the car? Really?

Let me get this straight. She was unlicensed, failed her test, crashed into a police car and now she wanted to keep the car???

Hum, let me think about it…… No.

I only wanted Starbucks

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It’s amazing how doing one little thing can open the door to something else. Ask any cop and they’ll tell you stories how this happens all the time. The smallest vehicle code violaton often leads to other things like warrants, suspended licenses and other crimes.

The other night I was getting onto the freeway when I saw an SUV going a lot faster than everyone else. I had a perfect view from the on ramp as the vehicle raced past traffic.

The SUV came up to slower cars and had to slow down. It then accelerated again when a hole opened up. The driver’s only problem was I happened to be right behind her.

I still had Starbucks on my mind, but we were now going 83 miles per hour and passing other cars. I finally decided to stop the car and warn the driver. I just wanted to get my drink and use the restroom.

I put my lights on and the SUV took the off ramp where Starbucks was. This was going to be perfect. I put the stop out over the radio and dispatch told me the registration had expired 8 months ago.

The driver made a right turn from the off ramp and stopped within eyesight of Starbucks. I spoke to the driver about the violation and she told me she was on her way home. I also asked about the expired registration. She said, “This is my boyfriend’s car. I didn’t know. I’ll call him.”

I went back to my car and ran the plate on my computer just to make sure it expired in January.  After I confirmed it I went back to the car. The driver said, “I called my boyfriend and he didn’t know.”

I found that hard to believe. I could understand one or two months expired, but eight? The registration also showed parking violations on file.

“I’m going to impounded the car,” I said.

The driver simply said, “Okay.”

There was no drama or questioning the impound. It was as if she knew and expected the vehicle to be taken away. The tow truck arrived and Uber picked her up.

It’s funny how things work out. I only got on the freeway that night so I could get to Starbucks faster. If she had slowed down I would never have noticed.

By the way, I got my drink.

No Parking

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The other night I was driving down the street when I saw a car parked next to a red curb and blocking a fire hydrant.

I decided to write a parking ticket and called a tow truck. After the car was hooked up I went a park around the corner and typed up the report.

Less than ten minutes later I was done with the impound report and hit the send button on my computer. As soon as my finger touched the screen the dispatcher broadcasted a disturbance call at the tow yard involving the same car.

It turned out a car load of guys followed the tow truck after it left the neighborhood. At one point, the car got in front of the tow truck as they tried to flag it down. Now they were there causing a problem with the driver.

I drove to the tow yard and saw two officers dealing with the car’s owner and four of his friends. I walked over to the group and asked who the owner was. A drunk guy stepped forward.

“Why did you park in front of the fire hydrant?” I asked.

“There was nowhere to park. I went inside to eat tacos.”

TACOS?

“How long were you there?”

“Maybe twenty to twenty-five minutes,” he said.

“Well, you can’t park in front of a fire hydrant. That’s why it was towed.”

With a bit of drunk attitude he replied, “Next time I’ll just park in the street with my flashers on.”

I wondered if he was always that dumb or if it was just tonight.

“If you do, I’ll just tow it again,” I replied.

That got a chuckle from one of the cops and it was also a conversation stopper for sure.

This was clearly someone who didn’t get it, but there was one thing for sure. Those were those most expensive tacos he ever ate.

My first parking ticket

imageThe first ticket is like your first kiss or your first car. It’s just one of those things that you never forget. Okay, maybe not exactly like that, but you never forget it.

On Monday, I was on my way to Starbucks when I took a side street and went by  my old high school. I only took the street to avoid traffic on Central Ave, which was the main road to the west.

As I passed by Chino High School, I glanced over at the street sign that said, No parking from 9AM to 2PM Monday thru Friday.

The old buildings from the school brought back memories, but that street sign brought back another.

That was because a long time ago I parked in front of the sign at 1:30PM….. Yes, Chino PD got me that day for my very first parking ticket.

Here’s another reason why I remember that ticket. I paid for it with the first check I ever wrote.

Nothing like a day of firsts….

Can I have a chance?

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On Monday afternoon, I was stopped at a red light in the far left lane. A woman stepped off the curb and started crossing in the crosswalk. As she neared my car, I glanced over to my right. That’s when I saw a car in the far right lane as it rolled though the red light like it wasn’t there.

Once the woman passed, I put my lights on and went after the car. I stopped the driver, who was 18 years old and asked, “What two reasons do you think I stopped you for?”

“I ran the red light?”

At least he was honest.

“Did you see the woman in the crosswalk?” I asked.

“No.”

“Can I see your license?”

“I left my wallet at home,” he said.

Strike three.

I took out my notepad and asked him for his name and other information. While I was writing down his address he asked, “Can I have a chance? I’ll never do it again.”

It was one of the most insincere things I’d ever heard.  That might work on mom, but not me.

“You ran a red light with a woman in the crosswalk and you don’t have your license with you. What do you think is going to happen?”

I continued getting his information when he gave one last ditch effort as he said, “Can I have a chance?”

“Don’t ask again,” I answered as I shook my head. “Why do you keep asking like that?”

“My parents will get mad if I get a ticket,” he replied.

“How old are you?”

“I’m 18.”

“So, you’re a big boy, who is able to make big boy decisions, right?” He nodded. “And you’re also a big boy who can make decisions too, right?” He nodded again.

I explained to him about being a traffic cop and what I’ve seen because of carelessness. He listened and seemed to understand. I next asked, “Now what would you do if I was sitting in the car and you were standing out here?”

He lowered his head and said, “I’d do what you’re doing.”

It turned out he had four violations. After a big brother talk I gave him a break on half of half of them. He signed the ticket and gave me a sincere thank you and a firm handshake.

In the end I said, “I bet you’ll never forget me when you make that right turn again.”

He smiled and said, “No, I won’t.”

“Can I have a chance?”

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I was driving down the street at dusk when I saw a car with its flashers on. It was heading in the same direction and was going very slow. That’s when I saw a 2015 registration sticker on the license plate. Since we were going so slow, I decided to run the plate. The information came back showing it expired 6 months ago.

The car was now sputtering and almost coughing up smoke as it limped down the road.  It was in critical condition at this point and  the only thing missing was a storm cloud above it. I put my lights on and the car slowly pulled to the side like it was giving up.

I walked up and smelled something burning from the tired and beaten up looking car. I’m sure it was just waiting to be put out of its misery.

I told the driver the reason for the stop and asked for his license. He replied by saying, “I don’t have it on me.”

This is usually code for “I don’t have a license” or “It’s suspended.”

“Do you a license or did you forget it at home?”

“It’s suspended.”

Code words confirmed.

I did a record check and found out he was driving the same car in March when he was given a ticket for a suspended license, no insurance and expired registration.

I called a tow truck and filled out another ticket for his collection. I walked back up with the citation and told him the car was getting impounded. I next waited for the, “Can I have a chance” request.

“Can someone come pick up the car?”

“No. Your license is suspended and you keep driving.”

“My brother has a tow truck. Can he tow it home?”

I looked up for a moment wondering if he was for real. What kind of question was that? I’ve impounded a lot of cars in my time, but no one has anyone asked to impound their own car.

As the tow truck hooked up the car, the driver came up again and asked for a chance.

“Did you get a ticket in March?” I asked.

“No.”

“Yes you did. You were driving that car when you got stopped.”

“Oh yeah.”

“Did the cop take the car on that day?”

“No.”

“Well, that was your chance.”

He didn’t have anything to say after that. He knew the car was going for sure.

He was a nice guy, but sooner or later you have to take responsibility for your actions. I have no doubt he’ll drive again. It just wont’ be in that car for the next 30 days.

“I made a slow down”

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The other night a car made a right turn on a red light without stopping. It was as if the red light wasn’t there, so  I decided to stop the car.

He had a head start on me so I pushed down on the gas pedal to catch up to him. The engine revved on “old faithful” as my patrol car gained on him.

Once I was behind him, I threw on the overheads and the car pulled to the curb. After it stopped, I walked up as my red and blue lights flashed and bounced off houses and passing cars.

“Hi, can I see your license?”

The driver, who was 20 years old, reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. As he grabbed for his license I asked, “Why didn’t you stop for the red light when you made the right turn?”

The driver, who was understandably nervous, handed me his license as he said, “I made a slow down.”

“A slow down?” I asked with raised eyebrows. “The light was red. Why didn’t you stop?”

“I yielded,” he said as if  he was in a hot air balloon with a leak that was crashing toward he ground.

“What color is the light for yield?”

“Uh, yellow.”

That’s when an embarrassed look appeared on his face as he realized how silly his excuse sounded.

I have a feeling he’ll stop at this red light the next time he makes a right turn.

Where’s the steering wheel?

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The other night I was sent a call on the eastern end of the city. I was near the freeway, so I decided to jump on and get there faster. I took the on ramp and started to accelerate.

I was up to freeway speed in a matter of seconds and looked into my mirror as I prepared to merge into traffic. Just as I looked, I heard the sound of skidding off to my left.

I turned my head just in time to see a car blowing by me as it was trying to slow down. Its brake lights were shining brightly like a lighthouse on a rocky coast on a foggy night for passing ships to see.

The car decelerated to 70 miles per hour in a matter of seconds.

It’s amazing how that works when you pass a police car like that. Of course, he needed to be stopped. I’m sure everyone else on the freeway wanted to see it too.

I turned on my lights as red and blue reflected off of everything around me. In defeat, the car pulled over and stopped on the shoulder. After the car stopped, I walked up on the passenger side as I used my flashlight to illuminate the inside.

I looked into the car trying to see the driver’s hands. That’s when I noticed there was no steering wheel. It just didn’t look right. How was he steering the car? I actually had to do a double take.

That’s when I saw a steering wheel on the passenger seat. That didn’t look right either. It was like a Twilight Zone car stop.

I asked, “Why is your steering wheel there,” as I pointed to the passenger seat.

“I wanted to show you I wasn’t going to take off,” he replied.

That actually made me laugh.

I never even thought of that one before. I took out my phone and told him, “I’m taking a picture of that.” I instantly knew he’d make the blog.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

When the rules don’t apply to some people

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The other night I was at a crash where one of the drivers was unlicensed. Though translation, the woman told me she lived in California for 20 years and was never issued a driver’s license.

I asked her if she had ever been given a ticket before. She replied she had not. Part of me found that hard to believe. Not many people in their 40s can go that long without being stopped for a traffic violation.

I decided to use my Bluecheck fingerprint device to check her identify. I asked her if she had ever had ever been fingerprinted before. With some hesitation the woman replied she had. I asked why and she told me it was because of a DUI crash she was involved in years ago.

I guess getting a DUI was not a ticket to her.

I next ran the driver’s name on the computer and found her DMV record, which showed the DUI conviction from 2008. I also found a conviction for driving on a suspended license in 2011. Her license status showed “suspended or revoked.”

Didn’t I just ask if she had ever been given a ticket?

When I asked about the ticket on her driving record her daughter said her mom sometimes forgets things.

Like the truth?

“Most people remember when they get a ticket for driving on a suspended license,” I replied. I next asked, “Did your car impounded when you got your ticket?”

“Yes.”

After all of this, I told the woman her car was being impounded because her license was suspended. That’s when she asked for a chance to keep the car. Really?

When I said no she got upset.

I always find it funny how people get upset when I do my job after they make bad decisions. I guess the rules and laws are more like “guidelines” for some people.