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Old 06-23-2009, 08:42 AM   #21
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It depends on the jurisdiction, how heavy the overall workload is, and conditions at the time. When I first started in 1973 every accident, no matter how minor, was investigated, a report written, and if appropriate, a ticket issued. Understand that the whole process in MD took at least an hour for even the most minor fender-benders. Later that changed to only writing accidents in which one or both vehicles had to be towed.

An accident with injuries at least doubled the time because then the officer had to go to the hospital for follow-up, and if he had to wait for the docs to finish, that could take several hours. I spent a lot of time waiting in emergency rooms. We were all on a first-name basis with the nurses.

During a snowstorm or other event that created a heavy accident workload, the policy could be temporarily changed to only write accidents in which someone was injured.

And ratface is right. A burglary or robbery in progress of course is a higher priority than a property damage-only car accident. And - this is the amazing part - people will actually lie to the police about who did what in an accident. So I think all those intersection traffic cameras are a great idea because they answer the question about "who ran the red light".
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Old 06-23-2009, 09:02 AM   #22
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I love the traffic cameras. After Katrina, with all the explosion of drug activity and dopers, tremendous levels of violent crime, storm chaser illegals, and decimated police forces, driving on our major streets meant risking your life. In my suburb they put up the cameras after about a year, I guess, and traffic returned to normal very quickly. I am so thankful. I don't mind one bit. Traffic cameras were one of the biggest helps in our recovery and in returning to normal, IMO.
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Old 06-23-2009, 10:22 AM   #23
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My point is that as ratface points out, yeah, traffic accidents are way down the list for the police.

So why not take that off their plate. Why not have an accident response team, no guns, no tazers, no sticky fingers.

Just institute a 444 number to dial when in an accident. "Ambulance, fire, investigator?".

Why the charade of having the super-busy police perform that service?
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Old 06-23-2009, 06:02 PM   #24
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AFAIK in Los Angeles the police will not come to an accident if it the call in does not report an injury. Just a private matter for insurance. DW & I were in an accident where we were pushed across traffic lanes, sidewalk and into the wall of a house. Police came, no injuries, the only reason there is a report is the lady who forced the whole event took out a city tree.
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Old 06-23-2009, 08:56 PM   #25
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The guys I train in Long Beach are now "not" responding to any accidents. Injury call in's get an ambulance, an EMS and a firetruck if on fire. Wrecker service is the responsibility of the motorist. Police respond only if traffic is slowed/blocked to the point that motorists cannot drive fast enough to be ticketed.

Sad, but true. It's about money.



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AFAIK in Los Angeles the police will not come to an accident if it the call in does not report an injury. Just a private matter for insurance. DW & I were in an accident where we were pushed across traffic lanes, sidewalk and into the wall of a house. Police came, no injuries, the only reason there is a report is the lady who forced the whole event took out a city tree.
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Old 06-23-2009, 10:33 PM   #26
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See my thread on government service reductions: http://www.early-retirement.org/forums/f27/government-service-reductions-44787.html

I don't know where accidents currently fit in on the priority list at my former employer. It shifted so many times while I was w*rking that it wasn't weird to hear an officer come over the air and ask "are we working accidents this week?"

Click on any date on one of these calendars and you can get an idea of how many accidents there are in one 24-hour period in a major city. Houston Police Department

When I first started w*rking there we had a division that did all accident investigations. I learned how to do it in the academy but forgot most of it before long because of disuse. A couple of years later management's response to the crisis of the week was to gut the accident division and shift manpower elsewhere. Investigate most accidents was shifted to patrol, where everyone was clueless about how to do it. One of my first accident calls was an 8 or 9 car chain reaction crash, caused by a DWI, with one car on fire and the occupants trapped. It was the first call of the shift and it took the rest of the shift and some overtime to clean that mess up.
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Old 06-24-2009, 06:55 AM   #27
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So why not take that off their plate. Why not have an accident response team, no guns, no tazers, no sticky fingers.
In part because so much other crime is uncovered during irregularities in going through the paperwork of an accident. For example, "why don't you have your registration card?" frequently leads to an unregistered car, or tags issued to another vehicle, or even a stolen car, although the drivers of stolen cars usually leave if they can still run.

Often there are outstanding warrants for one of the drivers if there are irregularities in the paperwork. Criminals very rarely commit only one crime. It's a lifestyle and they can't understand why the police pick on them so much. The concept that someone could go their entire life without being arrested is foreign to these people.

During evening shifts on weekends we'd stop as many cars as we could for even the most minor infractions, looking for DWIs. The theory was that given that one out of ten drivers was DWI, if you made ten stops you'd hit on a drunk. AKA "trolling" for drunks. We did NOT write tickets for stuff like a tag light out or 5 mph over the speed limit, but we'd make the stop for it and check the driver's license/registration, and find a lot of DWI's and other crime that way.
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Old 06-24-2009, 07:52 AM   #28
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I wonder what happened in the situation where the cop pulled over the ambulance in the video above?
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Old 06-24-2009, 08:19 AM   #29
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Good info, stuff I had not factored in to my solution. I recall during some training rides in Long Beach that the officers targeted "types" of vehicles and occupants after midnight. And it worked well.

But my OP was because I have recently seen 2 accidents just below my 20th floor window, at a very busy intersection and it was traffic chaos and very dangerous for 20 minutes or more. Actually I thought several times the drivers were gonna get either hit by a careless driver or the crap beat out of them by irate drivers.

It just seemed to make no sense for them to feel like they had to leave the cars "as is" to determine fault. Then have the police show, give a breathalyzer and drive off with a "exchange phone #s".


But I am starting to get the same buzz you mention. This country has a fairly high percentage of "career" criminals. Guess I lived in academia too long.
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In part because so much other crime is uncovered during irregularities in going through the paperwork of an accident. For example, "why don't you have your registration card?" frequently leads to an unregistered car, or tags issued to another vehicle, or even a stolen car, although the drivers of stolen cars usually leave if they can still run.

Often there are outstanding warrants for one of the drivers if there are irregularities in the paperwork. Criminals very rarely commit only one crime. It's a lifestyle and they can't understand why the police pick on them so much. The concept that someone could go their entire life without being arrested is foreign to these people.

During evening shifts on weekends we'd stop as many cars as we could for even the most minor infractions, looking for DWIs. The theory was that given that one out of ten drivers was DWI, if you made ten stops you'd hit on a drunk. AKA "trolling" for drunks. We did NOT write tickets for stuff like a tag light out or 5 mph over the speed limit, but we'd make the stop for it and check the driver's license/registration, and find a lot of DWI's and other crime that way.
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Old 06-28-2009, 08:15 PM   #30
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During evening shifts on weekends we'd stop as many cars as we could for even the most minor infractions, looking for DWIs. The theory was that given that one out of ten drivers was DWI, if you made ten stops you'd hit on a drunk. AKA "trolling" for drunks.
Let me get this straight - you're admitting that you harrassed 9 drivers
to catch one, when that one was not so impaired that it was clear HE
was the one DWI ?
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Old 06-28-2009, 09:16 PM   #31
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In my province we have mandatory insurance that you get with license plates. Theoretically everyone is insured and you can check by looking at the expiry date on the plate.

Here the rule is, don't call the cops unless : someone is injured, or damage (in YHO) exceeds $2K. Most people assume $2K is real damage. Most accidents go to the insurance company. Works fine.
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Old 06-28-2009, 09:35 PM   #32
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Let me get this straight - you're admitting that you harrassed 9 drivers
to catch one, when that one was not so impaired that it was clear HE
was the one DWI ?
It is not "harassment" to stop someone who was breaking the law. Having "a tag light out or 5 mph over the speed limit" are offenses.

Now, if they stalked a single individual, and ticketed him for every minor offense, that could be harassment - but here they were just stopping people as they came across them, not "targeting" individuals.

I came across one of your older posts recently while doing a search for something else. You seem to have a real problem with authority figures....

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Old 06-28-2009, 10:40 PM   #33
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It is not "harassment" to stop someone who was breaking the law. Having "a tag light out or 5 mph over the speed limit" are offenses.

Now, if they stalked a single individual, and ticketed him for every minor offense, that could be harassment - but here they were just stopping people as they came across them, not "targeting" individuals.

I came across one of your older posts recently while doing a search for something else. You seem to have a real problem with authority figures....

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Legalese as opposed to intent. You're right, this isn't legally harassment, but it certainly isn't the way those who protect and serve should be behaving. The police are supposed to prevent crimes when possible, but "trolling" for DUIs is IMHO misuse of authority. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
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Old 06-28-2009, 10:46 PM   #34
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Legalese as opposed to intent. You're right, this isn't legally harassment, but it certainly isn't the way those who protect and serve should be behaving. The police are supposed to prevent crimes when possible, but "trolling" for DUIs is IMHO misuse of authority. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
And one could say that by getting drunks of the road, they *are* "protecting and serving" and behaving well.

I agree that it is a fine line and a slippery slope, but stopping random people for actual violations is on the "good" side of the line, IMO.

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Old 06-28-2009, 11:30 PM   #35
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Not me. If they stop everybody who is crossing the legal line on some minor offense, I'd accept it (without liking it). But IMO this is not what the police should be about. It's a just little thing, but that doesn't make it right. It smacks of being asked for your identification for no reason, just because they can. Not my definition of America.
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Old 06-29-2009, 04:10 AM   #36
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all i know is i saw a commercialt night that said 45% of all traffic accidents involve drinking.... so isnt it safer to drive drunk?" the other 55% are straight!
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Old 06-29-2009, 09:57 AM   #37
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Not me. If they stop everybody who is crossing the legal line on some minor offense, I'd accept it (without liking it).
But isn't that what they described? I guess the only "picking" they did was time/place, but the cops can't be everywhere. If that time/place was more likely to have drunks on the road, I think it is reasonable. I'm willing to be somewhat pragmatic, rather than a total purist on issues like this.

We can agree to disagree - I think we both see it as being near a dangerous line, you see it slightly to one side of the line, I see it slightly to the other. I do think it needs to be monitored closely, so as not to veer off into harassment, but I don't think the example given fits the "harassment" description that one poster labeled it with.

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Old 06-29-2009, 11:04 AM   #38
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The Supremes have voted 9-0 on the ruling case in this area that says the Constitution is fine with the police using discretion on who to stop and who to arrest, as long as there is probable cause to support it. And, more importantly, they say that even though an officer may be motivated in that decision to investigate a possible crime for which he did not have sufficient probable cause to make a stop or arrest (drugs, murder, robbery, etc.), he can use some other legitimate probable cause to make that stop or arrest (traffic violation) even if he might not normally make a stop or arrest for that offense.

See Whren v. United States and Atwater v. Lago Vista

Such power is open to abuse, just about any power is (and I think Atwater was), but without the ability to use discretion to conduct this kind of stop the effectiveness of law enforcement will be curtailed to something close to zero. I think the fact that the governing decision was 9-0 shows that even the liberal wing of the court recognizes that fact.
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Old 06-30-2009, 02:26 PM   #39
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Let me get this straight - you're admitting that you harrassed 9 drivers to catch one, when that one was not so impaired that it was clear HE was the one DWI ?
If that's the way one chooses to see it, yes, and I make no apologies for it.

I developed that attitude about the third time I had to knock on some stranger's door and tell whoever answered that some relative wasn't coming home. Ever.

The "harassment" amounted to at most 30 seconds, plus whatever time it took the driver to produce a driver's license and registration. And I made it clear within the first sentence or two that I was not going to issue a ticket for whatever the violation was.

All that was to accomplish the task at hand (lock up drunk drivers) as painlessly to others as possible. No one ever complained about the practice that I knew of. And as Leonidas noted even the most liberal side of the SC didn't have a problem with it.
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Old 06-30-2009, 02:48 PM   #40
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I personally feel more threatened, when driving, by the overstressed
yuppie soccer mom jabbering on her cell phone, than by the drunk -
meaning simply I have a lot more close calls where this is the cause.

I suppose the theory is that traffic stops make the roads safer.
I think it's basically tax collection at the point of a gun; not really blaming
the individual officer though. I feel that if gov't was truly that concerned about
road safety, they would:

1. Ban 18-wheelers from the interstates between 5pm Friday and 5pm Sunday.
2. Ban 18-wheelers from using cheap tires that regularly disintegrate and litter
the highway with hazardous debris.
3. Ban tandem tractor-trailers.
4. Ban cell-phone use while driving (THAT is starting to happen).
5. Improve driver training so that, for example, people know not to
make a turn into the far lane, not to block intersections, not to change
lanes when the lane marker is solid (that's just a start).
6. Address the rampant corruption/incompetence in the road construction
business, that causes highway projects to regularly take YEARS to complete.

But hey, many of my suggestions would cost the gov't; traffic citations
generate revenue. Follow the money ...
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