Monday, April 9, 2012

High speed commute

There have been a rash of speeding tickets in South Florida of late, tickets wherein the offending parties were traveling at very high rates of speed. The rub in this seemingly trivial tidbit of information? The offending parties I'm talking about were all cops.

Really, this isn't a new thing, it's just been getting more attention lately, thanks to the antics some Miami police officers last year, after their fellow officer Fausto Lopez was pulled over by the Florida Highway Patrol for going 120 mph on his way to work. These Miami cops--supporting their brother officer--engaged in some less-than-honorable actions after the arrest became public knowledge. But that's neither here nor there.

Several days ago, Fausto Lopez pleaded no contest to a charge of reckless driving and was ordered to pay a fine and perform 100 hours of community service. No jail time, no probation. Hardly seems fitting, does it?

Earlier this year, the Sun Sentinel completed a state-wide investigation of speeding police officers. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3. Some highlights:
A three-month Sun Sentinel investigation found almost 800 cops from a dozen agencies driving 90 to 130 mph on our highways. 
Speeding cops can kill. Since 2004, Florida officers exceeding the speed limit have caused at least 320 crashes and 19 deaths. Only one officer went to jail — for 60 days. 
Many of the officers did not appear to be rushing to save lives or fight crime. More than half of the high-speed incidents involved city cops outside their jurisdictions, many of them driving regular routes most likely to or from work.

As to Lopez:
“He was in excess of 100 miles per hour during this one year period 154 times. He traveled in excess of 90 miles per hour 379 times,” [prosecutor] Schultz said quoting the Sun Sentinel investigation.
In the incident Lopez was cited for--that led to the plea bargain and the Sun Sentinel investigation--he was on his way to work, but not as a police officer. It was a second off-duty job. I'm all for cutting police officers a little bit of slack, when possible. But this kind of behavior is way over the line. An officer on the way to a second job, not "on the clock" as an officer, deserves no special consideration in my opinion. And officers that speed needlessly, get into accidents, and kill the citizens they are supposed to protect deserve even less then none. Really, they should be driving so as to be good examples for the rest of us.

It's a troubling pattern--for a pattern it is--and it's probably been this way for quite some time. But now that it's in the public eye, we should make some serious changes.

Cheers, all.


  1. I think it's always been in the public eye of the citizenry, but with the difference being that now the all powerful media is picking it up to. You can't imagine the number of times I've wanted to yell "Citizens Arreyest!" (Gomer Pyle to Barney Fife)

  2. Speeding isn't the only, or perhaps not even the worst problem with unsafe driving - it's reckless driving and speeding around other cars, especially on crowded roads as in downtown Atlanta where the following happened. Here's the tragic story of a Georgia State trooper who (from the various stories I'd read) thought he was invincible when driving his patrol car with the flashing lights and siren going, resulting in several accidence BEFORE this one. This apparently got extra news coverage because it involved the death of an Atlanta Braves trainer's wife:
    As the story says, he was fired from his state trooper job, but it could have saved a life if he had he received more disciplinary and corrective actions earlier, or had been fired just eight days earlier.

  3. @Pete: I'm right there with you on that.

    @Ben: Thanks for that, Ben. Pretty sad and--as you say--likely avoidable.

  4. Most troubling to me is the attitude of being "above the law" that these venial offenses and behaviors represent. My father was a public servant and he instilled in us a belief that there is a higher duty on those in public employ to stay within the lines. I think this creed is lacking in public servant these days.