Saturday, December 02, 2006

Prince George's County, New Jersey Cops, and George W. Bush...

Leonard Pitts usually fills the role of resident race-baiter at the Washington Post, but I am sure that he has a legitimate complaint today when he writes about how his children have been subject to more than their share of police harrassment in Prince George's County, Maryland. There is one point he makes that I want to highlight, one that is not necessarily "racist" as Pitts believes, but is typical of a more uniform type of suburban police aggression:

....I went because of the obstructed windshield.

That's what it said on the citation when Bryan
[Pitts' son] was pulled over last year. He went to court and took the "obstruction" with him: one of those air fresheners in the shape of a Christmas tree. The judge barely bothered to hide her contempt while dismissing the charges.

Sunday night at the mall, I got into an argument with a couple of officers and mentioned that incident as an example of blatant, oppressive harassment. One officer responded that "technically" the citation was correct.
I found that a telling defense. I mean, "technically," you can probably be arrested for spitting on the sidewalk.
How can citizens have confidence in police who justify such transparent harassment with such flimsy excuses?

Now Prince George's County - with a population of 800,000 - is certainly larger (by a factor of 4 to 10) than most counties in New Jersey. However, while the "transparent harrassment" that takes place in Jersey seems pretty similar to what Pitts describes, it is less racially-based and more class-conscious.

In New Jersey, law enforcement hides behind every tree and flower, ticketing automobiles for "obstructions" like Pitt's ornament. Personally, I was pulled over for running a "red" light (and when I pointed out to the officer that it was a still yellow even after I went through? The officer looked over his aviator glasses, put his face in mine, and sneers, "I said it was red"). I was ticketed for invalid registration because I handed the officer my expired card before offering him my current one - a $180- fine, highest allowable (higher than the red light). Went to court, told my story, showed the judge my registration and he magnaminously lowered the fine to $150-, with a $30- court fee, of course. An exhortion racket, with a judge and the local police all working hand in hand. Hey Leonard - want to know what it feels like to be a black man in Alabama in the 1960's? Try driving in New Jersey in the current century! The only bonus is that you don't even have to be black!

Other stories of cops issuing "technically" correct tickets in New Jersey:
- getting pulled over for "going too fast over a speed bump" - when the woman asked which tire (front or rear)he radared, he wrote her two more tickets.
-inproper use of hi-beams - when a friend was almost run off the road by a car cutting him off, he flashed his brights. The cops couldn't bother chasing down the speeder, easier to ticket a family sedan. And after all, the middle class victim will pay the ticket, likely without a fight.

And when you are giving out tickets for lights, speed bumps, and two copies of a registration, you are not actually serving or protecting your community, are you? Really, you are simply harrassing the residents of the township in order to raise revenue the easiest way possible. And if innocent people are ticketed? Who cares - they'll more likely pay than fight! And if they do dare to come to court, we'll teach them a lesson about sticking up for their rights!

The list goes on and on. Jersey police are no better than those in Price George's; small men with small minds with big guns who hunt down the middle class to raise revenues for their respective townships. Now, I spend much of my time in New York City, and their police force is usually beyond reproach (
current investigations pending, of course) - polite and professional, and more interested in protecting the middle class than vicitimizing them with harrassment tickets. Maybe the police forces of suburban counties from Prince George, Maryland to Middlesex County, New Jersey need to take some big-city policing lessons in order to earn the respect - rather than the disdain - of their constituents.

And what does all of this have to do with George W. Bush? For all of the whining (by the likes of Pitts, and
these useful idiots) about how W.'s anti-terrrorism laws are taking away the freedoms of ordinary Americans, I am willing to bet that none of these new regulations have changes the lives of any American one bit. However, look at how Pitts' life, and the lives of all of his children, are changed and threatened on a consistent basis not by George Bush, but by local law enforcement, which has an agenda all of its own.

Worried about your rights being taken away? Shaking your fist at W. may make you feel like a big man, but your real threat is your average small-town cop, who with the knowing smirk of a judge, can shake you down, lock you up, and take your cash. Doesn't matter whether you are black or white, the power trip is all that matters. These guys, flying under the radar, smacking down black kids and stealing the money of the multicultural middle class, are the real threat to your freedom, and they can exercise their will upon you at any time they want.

Maybe what needs to be exercised is greater oversight over these police forces; whether in Prince George or New Jersey. Maybe these amateurs ought to take a hint from the big-city cops, and actually try to serve and protect, instead of extort and abuse....


The JerseyNut said...

Right. My mistake; some Miami paper maybe? Seems like I always see him in the WaPost, though. And I guess he must spend at least some time with family (if not ful-time) in the DC area based on his tales of Prince George...

Anonymous said...

Small town cops on a power trip is a real problem here in Jersey,
What can you expect when the State Government is rotten from the top!
Stay on this issue I'm sure there's a lot more stories out there.