Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

San Diego’s Finest Elite

Jerry Stratton, May 9, 1996

The laws in San Diego, it turns out, are just guidelines. “Not just a good idea, it’s the law” took on new meaning this week after a police officer hit and killed a man while “not really speeding” down a city street.

On Tuesday, the newspaper reported merely that “a police car struck and killed a man who was crossing Balboa Avenue mid-block late last night”. The pedestrian was jaywalking in the middle of the night. Had that been the only contributing factor, it would have been forgotten about. In fact, had it not been a slow news day, the event probably wouldn’t have been reported at all.

On Wednesday, however, we discover that the officer had been exceeding the speed limit by at least 10 miles per hour without sirens or lights. Does the officer share fault? Nope: it’s not illegal. Anyone can do it, according to traffic Sargeant Mike Healy. We’re all allowed to go up to 55 mph on city streets “if road conditions are safe”. The middle of the night presumably doesn’t preclude safe conditions.

Interestingly, it appears that crossing mid-block is not merely a guideline, as Healy stated clearly that “the pedestrian was crossing mid-block in violation of the law”, as opposed to the officer driving over 10 mph above the speed limit in accordance with the law. I have to wonder whether that law would be downgraded to a guideline as well had it been a police officer jaywalking.

That was repeated in Thursday’s paper. Sergeant Healy, it seems, received a lot of flack when we mere public read his statements. Between Wednesday’s reporting and Thursday’s reporting, the pedestrian’s law-breaking became even more apparent. More than simply crossing mid-block, sixty-nine year-old Konstantine Rabinovich beamed from the Starship Enterprise and suddenly appeared out of nowhere in the officer’s path. Pushing a shopping cart in front of himself.

Sergeant Healy tried to point out that for motorists to exceed these mere guidelines, conditions have to be, like, okay: “no traffic, no pedestrians, no rain, no weather, what the time of day is, whether you’re in a residential area”. That there was at least one pedestrian and the “time of day” was the middle of the night indicates that even Healy’s list of conditions is a mere guideline.

Of course, anyone who has ever been in traffic court knows that guidelines or not, speed limits are very clearly enforced against those few chosen by the police as “examples” from among the many who drive. The courts claim that both sides’ testimony are weighed equally, but in practice it is clearly the accused who has to prove that the accuser is wrong.

If you have never done so before, I highly recommend trying it once: take your ticket to court, and take your lumps when you lose. And remember those lumps when election year rolls around. If you’re one of those lucky ones who has never been hit by an officer—or if you’re one of those tiny few who hold up traffic and never go beyond the speed guidelines—drop by traffic court anyway. Anyone can go in and watch the proceedings. It’s an eye opener.

If you’d like to be more active, take every ticket to court. If every motorist who believed they were being victimized took their tickets to court, the courts would no longer be able to pretend that the system works for the common Joe. And officers like the one speeding down a San Diego city street would spend more time in courtrooms and less time running into pedestrians.

In addition, I propose the following law: If a cop can get away with it, so can anyone else. A police officer not being charged for an action should be a presumption that the action is no longer an offense. The police are not here to separate themselves from the laws they enforce.

July 24, 2000: Don’t fuck with us shit bird

Here’s a nice response from someone using WebTV:

You are obviously some dirt bag who got his ass kicked by the police. Didn't your mommy breast feed you. You immature piece of shit. Don't fuck with us shit bird. We are the police and we'll pound the shit out of you. I have been on the street for years and have yet to lose a fight. We are the law and if you don't like it then go cry in a corner, You scum bag piece of shit!

I think I can let that speak for itself.

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