Off Duty Ticketing?

Okay, so I may be new to this whole “speeding ticket thing,” I’ve only ever been hit by the Arlington PD for going to fast along Lee Highway (dude, 30 is not realistic for a four lane street that is a major thoroughfare, c’mon now.) in 2002, but this to me seems a bit off-axis. There’s an off-duty DC cop who is pulling people over for speeding.

Yes. You read that correctly. He’s giving out speeding tickets as a hobby.

Am I the only one who sees this as vigilante work? If he was doing something like stopping robbers, or preventing rapes and murders, I suppose that would be one thing, but just generating revenue for the city? Now I’m not so sure…

8 Comments so far

  1. wayan (unregistered) on August 19th, 2005 @ 3:52 pm

    Right, like slowing down speeders (45 in a 25!) is not the same as preventing murders. Ever notice that a motor vehicle accidents are the lead cause of “accidental” deaths in America, accounting for 43,354 dead bodies in 2002. That would be oh, almost double the firearm-related deaths that include gang shooting & such. (PDF death stats here)

    Now I do think that 25 mph is a little low. It should be 35 mph as there has to be a balance between convenience and safety. An enforced 35 mph though, which can & should be enforced by off or on duty cops and even speeding cameras. Also, I think there should be a 100% enforcement of the no phone while driving ban, but that’s a different topic.


  2. East Coast Girl (unregistered) on August 21st, 2005 @ 1:41 pm

    It is really hard to take seriously any driving advice from a car-hating, non-driver. Which, in itself, surprises me, seeing as how Wayan spends so much time ogling strange women on the street trying to get their attention. He might find it easier to get them to look back if he had a cool car wrapped around him. But that’s another story.

    To Tom — if this incident happened exactly the way you write it, I would say you have serious ground to have this ticket thrown out of court.

    I have a major problem with a DC cop handing out tickets in Arlington, VA — on duty or not. In this article from the Washington Post on 010405, Jamie Stockwell references http://www.defenddemocracy.org/research_topics/research_topics_show.htm?doc_id=255608&attrib_id=7448 a ‘crime-fighting strategy announced at a public ceremony in October … Signed by officials from the District and Prince George’s, the agreement includes the deputizing of 16 police officers — eight from each jurisdiction — so they can cross the city-county border to make arrests. The program, first employed in the early 1990s, has not been inaugurated, even though officials said at the time that it would begin three weeks later.’ This was mentioned again on ABC7 News here on 052005, http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0505/229855.html where ‘D.C. Police Chief Charles Ramsey says he’s eager to see cross-border crime fighting initiatives strengthened with the Prince George’s County police.’ However nowhere in either of these two articles did it mention this same agreement being applied to Arlington, VA.

    Even so, if this was to happen in VA as well, what the ticketing officer did to you IN NO WAY represents the spirit of this initiative. The idea was to be able to follow criminals into the neighboring jurisdiction and prevent their escaping over county lines, not to lie there in wait to hand out tickets in his own time just for kicks. Besides, where would you go to court, anyway — in DC, or VA — either way, he is screwed, unless there is some obscure law on the books that most drivers (like me) are unaware of.

    One thing you did not mention was, was he in a family car, unmarked car, or police car? Was he dressed weekend casual, business casual, or in uniform? Not that it makes any difference, I am just curious.


  3. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on August 21st, 2005 @ 3:47 pm

    I actually have not had this happen to me, had it happened in Arlington, I would have contested the ticket, absolutely. I’m just not sure how legal it is for an off duty cop to be doing this sort of thing, that’s all.


  4. wayan (unregistered) on August 21st, 2005 @ 5:53 pm

    East Coast Girl: The DC cop was giving out speeding tickets in DC, not VA. To quote the very first paragraphs of the article you read so well:

    Wendell Cunningham worried about cars hitting children or elderly residents in his Southeast Washington neighborhood, so the D.C. police officer decided to hit the streets with a radar gun — on his own time… Cunningham was writing traffic tickets along a busy stretch of Branch Avenue SE near his home in Hillcrest


  5. East Coast Girl (unregistered) on August 21st, 2005 @ 7:47 pm

    My apologies. I admit I completely missed the hyperlink for the original article, was simply responding to Tom’s post. (Insert foot in mouth.) Since I first saw the article about the new crime fighting strategy allowing officers to cross jurisdictions, I have been waiting for them to actually DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, since I believe it would be a VERY GOOD THING. I guess I was so eager to find a good case for argument, I completely zipped right past the proof that it wasn’t. Sorry.


  6. wayan (unregistered) on August 21st, 2005 @ 10:56 pm

    I too want them to do something about the bad guys who jump across borders to escape The Man. Some invisible line down the middle of a street or river shouldn’t stop a cop looking for or trying to stop crime.

    And within the current lines, I like the idea of a cop always on duty, which Tom, in fact they are. If they are in their jurisdiciton, they are considered on duty and should respond to any crime, from speeding to murder. On the clock or not.


  7. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2005 @ 6:04 am

    Respond to, Yes. Set up a trap for, No.


  8. wayan (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2005 @ 8:40 am

    There’s no mention of a trap Tom. Its not like he was hiding in the bushes right next to where the speed signs went from 45 to 25. Speed limits in the District are 25mph, unless otherwise posted, and he was standing next to his marked police car, in uniform. Check out the Post photo

    Now, like I said, 25 mph is too low for any major street, so you could argue that the whole city is a speed trap, but not this specific officer’s actions. His actions might piss you off, but that’s because he was enforcing a very unpopular (with drivers) law. For the residents of his neighbourhood, who see folks zipping by every day with the arrogance that many drivers have when behind the wheel, this officer is a hero.



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