Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Hug Da Police

Today I took the kids to a place called "Victor's Pond" in our lovely Salt Lake suburban city. It's a funny place because it's a ten acre stretch of wetlands smack in the middle of a middle to upper class neighborhood. One second you're worming your way through ramblers and multi-story houses, next thing you are parked against a field of cat-tails and reeds.

You have to walk in a roundabout way where you actually find two ponds. One is more ornamental but the other has ducks, frogs, sunfish, catfish, goldfish and giant rats. Ethan wants to catch the big goldfish really bad. On our way to the pond we passed the field where Ethan has soccer practices where we saw two cops on motorcycles pointing their radar guns up the hill. A common place they use as a speed trap. When we left the pond, Ethan urgently needed to make use of the loo so we drove quickly the few blocks to grandma's house. When we left, we found two more cops on bikes tucked away at the entrance to another major street. One block away at the bottom of that hill were even more cops.

You would think Halloween would be a fine excuse to write a lot of citations at the end of the month to meet quota, but apparently they're looking to generate that extra revenue a little early. I happen to be one ticket away from losing my license. My wife has received two tickets since September. The police are also fond of following me right up to my driveway when I come home late at night. When I described this to a friend who lives nearby, he joked, "That's right. I pay a lot of taxes to keep brown people like you out of my neighborhood."

On the speeding tickets, I take responsibility and there should only be one on my record. All the stop sign, red light stuff is completely fabricated. I tried to fight the first one in court. The cop testified that he was speeding at the time of the "violation," testified that he witnessed my crime clearly under a tree and that the morning of the trial he went to the scene to confirm the white line at the stop sign was plainly visible. I had pictures from where the cop was when he made his move on me. The tree branches are densely filled in all the way to the ground and there is no white line on the street. The city's lawyer looked like he was playing Solitaire on his laptop through the entire proceedings.

The judge struck the gavel. Guilty. That was it. This isn't Matlock people. Burden of Proof means nothing. Apparently evidence means little as well. The important thing is, Justice delivered them my money and their paychecks will clear. It appears they have become a business and crime itself is inconsequential. Their methods suggest that by constantly harassing regular people who have absolutely no criminal intent and pocketing the fines for arbitrary and unverifiable offenses, they are somehow providing the people a service. They tout themselves as heroes. Luck, itself, appears to be the chief investigator.

My five year old already has his doubts. He has been in the car on multiple occassions when the police pull us to the curb. He watched as grandma pleaded with the police not to tow away an unregistered car from in front of her house, which of course they towed. He knows they stole the car and are holding it for ransom. Two cars have been taken from grandma's house in this fashion.

Our five-year-old saw a policeman shoot a young man on television. When he looked to me for an explanation, my instinct was to say, "it isn't real," but then I remembered back to when we bought our house and within weeks the police had our streets blocked off with orange cones. They were squatting behind parked cars with guns drawn. A man had been drinking in front of his house and had his hunting rifle. He wouldn't put it down and the police shot him. Another recent incident involves a pair of cops on stakeout in West Valley City: A 60 year old asian man went to ask the men why they were parked in front of his house. His family says that within two minutes that had shot him dead. He wasn't the man they were staking out. Even over by Park City, they chased down a man and killed him with a stun gun. Which doesn't say much for this "Non-Lethal" approach to law enforcement. So I just told my son, "Yes, they shoot people."

My son has these things in mind even as pre-school and kindergarten teachers try to put a teddy bear's face on these public servants. The boys in blue should know that if they want trust, respect and money, they need to go out there and earn it. They could at least stop speeding in front of my house and rolling through stop signs. Leave regular people alone. The recent event in Utah where the police raided a party with dogs and machine guns when the hosts had obtained permits (informing the city when and where the party would commence), provided security and restrooms, does not speak favorably of them either. Harassing my wife for money as she drives to take care of her father, fresh out of heart surgery, is not heroic. To add insult to financial injury, they call incessantly asking for donations: "Are you going to be a hero and donate $20?"

Until they clean up their act, I will consider myself Sam Adams to the city's Redcoats.

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