Wednesday, December 2

Super-secret Police Insider Information: The Truth About T.J. Hooker and Tips for Not Driving Like an Idiot

I'm going to cop out of writing a post today. <---PUN

Noah has graciously agreed to answer the questions you guys posed in the Open Forum, an act of love and support that is very convenient for me (I'm writing procrastinating on a term paper) and informative for you (because if he didn't want to answer the questions, I would have made up answers. Such as "We have T.J. Hooker baton toss competitions regularly at my department.")

Actually, I really enjoyed reading Noah's responses—I even learned a few things. Here's round one, and just for fun, I've thrown in some editor's notes.

Have you ever thrown your baton at a "perp's" legs like they do on T.J. Hooker?

They actually showed us that clip during Academy...though no one came out and said it, my feeling was that such moves were to be discouraged...

Would Blue Thunder beat Airwolf in a fight?

As I was one and two years old (respectively) when those shows came out and have learned my lesson about rewatching all those “awesome” shows from the 80’s, I have no opinion on the matter. Apologies.

Editor's Note: Dan, you're showing your age with this question.

I'd like to know what he thinks when he wakes up in the morning. Is it: "Aww man I have to go work. I'm tired."? Or "I've been chosen to do this, and I chose to be a part of it. I have to go out there." Is it a serious thing everyday? Or has it become more day-to-day like other jobs?

While I’m almost always “tired” when the alarm sounds and I’d never complain about an extra day off, I can’t say I’ve ever dreaded going to work in the sense that most people might. The underlying knowledge that absolutely anything might happen today and I might be square in the middle of it keeps that sense of futility and boredom away. And while there have been times during my (so far rather brief) career when my sense of duty and responsibility have been a primary motivating factor to get me out of bed every day, I’d have to say that mentality isn’t usually at the front of my thoughts. But I have made it a point, as I am strapping on my kevlar vest every workday, to focus my mind on the day ahead and prepare myself as best I can. It’s my serious moment in an otherwise typical morning routine.

When an officer pulls someone over for a more routine traffic violation (10 miles over the limit, for example, not driving while shooting), does the officer FEEL as stern as he/she ACTS, or is it partly faked for effect?

The best way for me to explain the whole law enforcement attitude thing is to say that we learn quickly on the job that every encounter, no matter how seemingly routine, can transform into a life-and-death struggle, often in mere seconds. I believe this is the pivotal training knowledge that most separates civilians from law enforcement officers. Once this realization sets in, officers understandably cannot trust people or situations in quite the same way they used to. This mentality, rooted in a desire for the officer to protect him/herself, often translates into the stern, assertive attitude many civilians experience. Most civilians an officer encounters do not “deserve” or “require” this sort of treatment and ideally the officer will discern this fact and adapt accordingly. So to answer the question, I’d say the officer does feel as stern as he or she’s not a show or just for kicks, but a survival tool.

What IS the amount that a person can drive over the limit without the officer feeling duty-bound to pull the person over?

I’ve always considered myself to be a pretty lenient officer as far as tickets go, but there are many others who take a more strict approach. To me, a lot depends on the circumstances/location of the speeding. Highways, I’m not concerned by anything less than 15 over unless there is a lot of traffic and the car is a clear hazard. On local streets, I’m good with anything under 10 over. Obviously, again, traffic/weather conditions apply.

I imagine officers are super-annoyed when they are trying to drive and the people in front of them are going exactly the limit or even UNDER, when the officer knows PERFECTLY WELL the person would be driving faster if there wasn't an officer behind them. Also, am I right that the officer would actually PREFER everyone would go a little faster?

Again, only speaking for myself here, but that would be a resounding "yes." Here is my rule of thumb...if you happen to be directly in front of an officer who does not have his/her blue lights/siren on, try to switch to another lane if possible to see if he/she will pass you. If the officer passes you, congratulations, you can stop worrying. If the officer does not pass you, I'd say you could feel comfortable matching his or her speed up to between 5-9 over.

Editor's Note: We typically take the same route to downtown every morning, and I really enjoy being the car that fearlessly passes the cop and flips him the bird. Actually, I don't flip him the bird. But I should, for added enjoyment.

Once an officer has OBVIOUSLY seen me OBVIOUSLY speeding, my feeling is that it's only annoying if I slam on my brakes as if I think I can suddenly pretend I WASN'T speeding—that it's actually better to just take my foot off the gas. Am I right?

Yes, let off the gas, maybe wave your hand in apology, and hope it’s not your unlucky day.

Editor's Note: Noah once encountered a car who was going to speed through a yellow light, saw Noah's patrol car sitting at the cross street, then slammed on the brakes before arriving at a screeching, fish-tailing halt ten feet into the intersection. I LOVE that story.

WHAT WILL MAKE ME LESS LIKELY TO GET A TICKET (assuming I deserve one but not a big one)?

This one is really difficult to answer. My best advice is that you obviously don’t want to be an @$$hole but you also don’t want to be too apologetic. If you come out and just admit your guilt, it makes writing the ticket and winning it in court so easy that the officer might have a hard time passing it up. Doing the following things might help you out, but I can’t make any promises:
  • Don’t take forever to pull over. 
  • Don’t do something else dangerous during you attempt to pull over quickly.
  • Don’t you dare pull over to the left or simply stop in your lane (barring some freakish circumstance out of your control) and expect the officer to be happy about it.
  • Don’t fiddle around in the car or lean over to the glove box after pulling over. Those motions can look like you are trying to get to a weapon or discard some sort of damning evidence, etc.
  • Wait with your hands on the steering wheel until the officer makes contact with you and then inform the officer that you are going to reach wherever to get your license/registration, etc.
  • Whatever you can do to create as safe an encounter as possible for the officer can help remove some of the tension and earn you a little breathing room.
Editor's Note: The only time I've ever been pulled over (by a State Trooper...two months ago), I confessed immediately. And subsequently got a ticket.

What is an officer SO SICK of being asked?

I personally don’t like being asked what’s going on at a crime scene. Not because I don’t want to talk about it, because I usually wouldn’t mind, but because usually talking about it would compromise the investigation in some way.

Now everyone, let's thank Officer Noah for sharing with us today [initiate round of applause]. Stay tuned for more answers to your burning questions!


Anonymous said...

I threw my baton at a guy's legs. Once. In my first year. It bounced off his calves harmlessly, and I may even have heard him chuckling.

Good answers. Definitely a patrol officer's answers, but good answers none-the-less. :)

Melanie said...

I am 41 yrs. old and have been driving since I was 16. Last Feb. I was on my way to Georgia to visit friends. My son (15) was in the car with me. It was Friday the 13th and my birthday was that upcoming Tuesday. We were going through a small town and I was going the speed limit. (45) I saw the cop sitting on the side of the road with his lights going but no one was pulled over with him. Well I didn't move into the other lane and I looked up and he was behind me. I told Caden, "this cop is pulling me over and I don't know why." He gave me a $420.00 MOVE OVER LAW ticket! Now, I have never heard of that and I have never gotten a ticket. I asked him right away what I had done. He said that I didn't move over. I told him that I had never heard of that. The price of the ticket wasn't on the ticket so I called the number and when they told me the amount, I started crying. I cried for 45 mins. Later on through my MIL, I found out that they sit on the side of the road and pull people over for that. I got it lowered to $300 and no points but I am still not over it. Can you tell?

Slamdunk said...

Fuuny and complete answers Noah.

The whole flipping the bird thing can really backfire even if it is inter-departmental (not that I know anything about such juvenile actions)...

Maggie May said...

This made me laugh out loud AND was actually informative!

Anonymous said...

Oo! Oo! Oo! :::flailing hand wildly:::

I've got a question: Is there any truth to the oft-cited idea that cops have a quota of tickets they must meet, ergo you're more likely to get a ticket at the end of a month?

Not that I'm doing anything to get a ticket, mind you.

Meadowlark said...

Has anybody you known ever been known to ignore the "no booty on duty" protocol. I don't mean in the "hooking up with a girlfriend on the side" kinda way either.

Curious minds want to know. :)

Kate@And Then I Was a Mom said...

Thanks, Noah--nice job. The Editor's Notes weren't too shabby either.

Anonymous said...

I have recently gone through the experience of having to 'teach' a child how to drive-a truly humbling experience that's much harder than I thought it would be. While frantically grabbing the 'Oh Jesus' handle and pumping the non-existent brake pedal, I came to the realization that dang, maybe I'm not a very good driver (gasp). Honestly, the thought that kept coming into my mind was 'Do as a say, not as I do.' I came to the conclusion that instead of trying to fix what's obviously broken (i.e. my driving), I would simply let me husband teach her.. Problem solved....

B said...

Awesome post! I wanted to be a cop from about sixth grade to my freshman year of high school. Then I read this book, Lady Cop, and changed my mind in a hurry. LOL Takes a certain, special someone for that line of work. (My hub's dad was an officer for many years.) The Kevlar part definitely puts things into perspective. Though I chuckled on the flipping off and passing. LOL

Natalie said...

Those are some great questions and even better answers!

With the last question, I'd have to admit that my hubs can't stand all the "friends" he acquires when they're in trouble and then "enemies" that result when he doesn't "help" said "friends."

And I apologize for the overuse of quotes. I usually break it up with italics or bold font when available!

May @ Anne and May said...

This is EXACTLY why I moved to the city and hung up my driving gloves. I'm HORRIBLE at it and fear getting in trouble.

The few times I've ever been pulled over, I just sat there blubbering like an idiot.

This was an AWESOME feature. More! More!

Swistle said...

Thank you, Officer Noah! I was totally riveted! And I kept my hands within sight on the keyboard the whole time.

The three times I've been pulled over (twice for things like a brake light out, once for speeding but no ticket), I've immediately started frantically rummaging in the glove box thinking, "OMG REGISTRATION OMG WHERE IS IT OMG WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE OMG WHAT IF I CAN'T FIND IT???" I think I will put it in an easier-to-find area (like in its own red envelope) so I can keep my hands on the wheel next time. Thanks again, Officer Noah!

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