I asked, you answered my question “what pet peeves do you want to ask a cop”. I got an ear full, and even dipped into Markland’s “64 Things I hate about you” for more ideas then proceeded to get some answers.
Arcadia PD’s Sergeant Tom Le Veque had contacted me and offered me a ride along. I took him up on the offer and he was the first officer in the line of fire with my questions. Nice guy, certainly a good sport with the wide range of questions you all came up with.
He paired me with officer Phil Pierce for the ride along. Turns out that Officer Pierce is a local Monrovia man who had some great insights into the area as well as his own philosophy on life and policing. Turns out we even crossed paths many years ago as he played ball with my neighbors two boys.
A large part of the ride along was just listening and understanding. I’ve had a lot of interaction with the police over the years. Like many my contacts have varied, some were where I initiated the contact, and others where I was stopped because of some boneheaded stunt. The questions here fell into the same variety, some of it driving, others really dealing with the social, economic realities of life here in Metro LA.
I don’t know what I expected out of the evening other than better insights into my area and policing in general. What I didn’t expect is the amount of tedious detail work and record keeping was involved. The calls we answered were pretty inane, false alarms at warehouses, evidence pick-up at Macy’s from an earlier shop lifting arrest and just basic patrolling. Not a whole lot of shoot ’em up excitement, just good conversation. Getting to know these men as individuals and understanding the why’s of what they do made it one of the more interesting meanders I have taken.
Driving Rants and General Questions
The answers are really pretty specific for the Arcadia PD, could apply to how other Police Agencies will handle as well. This should set of more than a few rants to the answers but here goes:
1) Nathan asked about enforcing the DEQ or emission controls and obvious gross polluters. Kint chimed in with a link to the CHP for reporting them. I upped the ante to include modifications in general as many we see on the cars isn’t factory issued, supported and even came from webs and out of boxes “not legal for street use” or “not legal for use in CA” on the boxes. The officers responses:
“There is a great deal of training being offered for “Street Racing Enforcement” that targets illegal smog modifications. Most modifications are not CARB certified and any device or alteration that allows the performance of the engine to be adjusted, i.e. cam or fuel intake is also illegal. An expensive ticket with mandatory fines and a trip to the smog referee. Not just a fix it ticket.
The illegal mods such as spoilers, lowered too much or too high are addressed in the Motor Vehicle Code. We know what is factory spec and within the codes. Do we stop them all? No. We don’t have the time to deal with everyone we see. Those that are doing other infractions that get our attention then it is included in that ticket if it makes sense.
Front license plates are the law. Not all the dealers order the cars with the plate holder but they are only encouraging the breaking of the law. A lot of people don’t put the plate on but we don’t have the time to ticket everyone that breaks that law either. If its not on when we stopped them for another reason we have the descretion add it, but it isn’t something we pursue. If we had photo-radar or intersection cameras where we needed it for identification then enforcement would be more important.”
2) Kint and Travis asked “More than anything, why don’t they ever enforce the “slower traffic move right” law?? Especially on the 110..”
“Ideally, a question for the CHP (on the freeways). If a vehicle is travelling less than a posted limit and impeding, signs need not be posted and it may be a violation of the California Vehicle Code. Also remember, there is no ‘flow of traffic”. It is simply the posted max speed on the freeway. If they are creating a noticeable hazard by impeding traffic we can give a ticket, not all situations warrant it.”
3) Michael#1 wrote on Markland’s post “2-64. People who don’t pull out into the intersection when making a left hand turn.” I’ll toss in the “does a yellow mean left turns go or are yielded too?” as that is a common rant.
“The motor vehicle code is clear you don’t pull into the intersection if there are obstructions like other traffic. At best you are violating a gridlock law or ordinance, at worst you are obstructing the intersection.
A yellow light does not mean a left turn may proceed. A left turn always yields to oncoming traffic.”
4) berta asked “Tinted windows – they’re not legal or maybe I just don’t know the guide lines…Are they not illegal! (?).
“The motor vehicle code is clear regarding tint darkness and where you can apply it. You cannot apply it to the front windows where it could obstruct a a drivers vision. 2 door cars are not exempt. We can issue a fix it ticket which involves the tint having to be removed. It doesn’t stop them from putting it on again next week after the fix-it ticket is signed off.
Do I have the time to stop everyone doing it? No. Will I stop someone, yes if they are doing something that caught my attention that would make me believe it was interfering with their safe driving. It is an equipment violation…priorities of enforcement.”
5) Frequent commenter discarted had a couple. First was “I’m really interested in knowing how you were able to get the ride along…” His other, ” I would like you to ask the cop what is their problem/bad attitude towards photographers when we photograph them on the street.”
I can answer the first, he saw my flickr page and followed links to Metroblogging from comments I left on other blogs. He told me my images got his attention first, the offer came as he was interested in what I had to say. Their normal policy is generally there needs to a valid reason such as potential recruit, a specific school project to permit the ride along.
We did discuss photographers in general and he understands that if it “takes place in public there is a right to photograph it.” His comment on the question as posted:
“I don’t have a problem with photographers taking pictures of a crime scene. I have had them at many of our investigations. The only time I ask them to move aside is when they are trying to cross behind the yellow tape or are putting themselves in harms way. They are welcome to be at a safe distance and take their pictures. If it is an active situation we have to protect them from harm as much as any others not involved in the area.”
6) Marshall asked “I’d love to know why they seem unwilling or unable to use their turn signals like other drivers do?” My own observation, I don’t recall officer Pierce not using his signals while I was with him. The response from officer Le Veque:
“I use mine…should they? In general, yes”
7) Travis dropped this final bit in her question “…Given that there’s no Dunkin’ Donuts in LA, where is the best runner up?” Officer Pierce offered up his own answer “I don’t know, I don’t eat donuts.”
8) Finally good old Sarbal out in the IE posed this : “Ask about the cheesy facial hair. Do these guys really think the Magnum PI mustache adds an allure of bad ass? And then go one further, What is with the mandatory cop mustache, firefighter foo man cho facial hair? I just don’t get it.” In touring the APD station I noted only a few moustaches. Officer Pierce is clean shaven. Officer Le Veque had a nicely trimmed ‘stache, his response “My wife likes it…”
1) berta you asked “I’ve always wondered if race was considered when filling positions for patrol officers in the communities that they serve? … A female officer is brought to a site when a female offender is involved due to the possible legal ramifications (I assume) & so I’m wondering if it applies in each angle?”
“We have no hiring guidelines as to race or ethnicity. Recruiting efforts can always be tailored toward women, or a particular minority just based on how or where you advertise. We actively advertise in a variety of the Asian newspapers in our area as our population is over 40% Asian. We recruit the best we can find.
As far as gender, yes, you will see a female used when possible if the detainee is female. Legally, anyone can search for safety reasons, but it is preferred to have the same sex.
As far as matching ethnicity or race and the officer; As long as the officers are familiar with cultures and customs of their community, that should not be an issue. Our community has a large Asian population. We have had several cultural diversity trainings in recent years.
Where language is an issue we have access to the ATT Language line and can have a translator available quickly on the phone to help with the question and answer gathering.”
2) doran, you asked many questions. In terms of where they live officers generally don’t tell you where they live as they have families and certainly don’t want the bad guys they have met over the years to know where they live. Both are in the area, but in areas they can afford to live as the average price of a home in Arcadia is over $700K. Do their kids attend public schools? Yes.
Your bigger questions ” If they’re local cops, I’d like to know how they think the average person sees them? Is there an feeling of “us versus them”? Where do they notice racism? Or class issues? Does it play a part within the department? Does immigration status play any part in their interaction with the community?
“Us vs Them? Not at all. Unfortunately, most contacts with officers are negative; the person may have been a victim reporting a crime, a witness to some possible criminal activity, someone involved in a collision, the recipient of a citation, you name it. I think that the vast majority of the people support the police. We all have perceptions of things and those perceptions may vary from one end of the spectrum to the other. There are a very small percentage of folks than can not stand the police. There again, I believe that is the extreme.
I do not see racism within our Department. Does it exist? Certainly, depending upon the beliefs of the individual that you are dealing with, we are all different. I have seen instances of it in field activity. Not common place by any means, but I have had citizens that will make blatant racial comments or statements regarding a person or persons to me while in uniform.
We do not currently refer to ICE. The only exception would be if there was an existing fugitive warrant in the system.
“Is there anything obvious which the community needs? Patience! We are all in too big of a hurry.”
3) Doran you also posed “Bonus question:Should private citizens carry a Taser?” So what is our bonus is our question back to you.
From Sergeant Le Veque, “Only if they practice with it, have been through personal safety courses and understand all ramifications of not only use for protection, but also improper application.”
From Officer Pierce, “It would be no different than someone applying for a concealed weapon permit. If you can pass the safety tests, the felony screening and want it to protect your person or family, not property I don’t see why not”.
Arrt, you asked so many general questions it is hard to answer with any specifics. Is it what these officers have seen, experienced or participated in? The short answer is no. Is that your reality, yes and they don’t challenge your assertions nor did they negate them. It is your reality and outside of what their realm of experiences includes. Both officers had their own thoughts which I will give to you.
From Sergeant Le Veque “Arrt talks of one item that is sraight out of “Community Policing”teachings. The broken windows therory is taught when discussing topics related to community policing. This type of “policing” has its place and has been proven to be effective in certain applications. Sometimes, the community and police will too often try to solve an issue by labeling it a “community policing” project. This type of strategy is only as effective as the buy in from the local community, the police officers assigned to that area, and everyone involved. It is a partnership. If anyone fails to hold up their end of the bargain the food faith efforts are lost. If the efforts are abandoned after the initial “fixes” then the project has failed.
If I could answer each of his questions to his satisfaction, I would be a very rich man. That can not be done in one paragraph. I believe that I do my best each day as an officer. I know that each person that I deal with may not be totally satisfied or happy with my actions, however, I make every attempt to act professionally and property in each circumstance. As I said before, we all have perceptions of how things are or appear to be and how people act. None of is always right and that includes police officers. We are all human.
During Phil’s lunch break I let him read Arrt’s comments and questions directly. The impact of his words were visible. Phil understood that to be Arrt’s reality but it didn’t follow with his experiences as an officer. We talked a bit and I asked him how does he react, or feel when stopping someone and they make the accusation “you stopped me because (insert your own cultural marker)…”.
“I can’t deny it bothers me. It isn’t the reason for the stop, there were many flags that were present when I made the stop. The time of day, car they are driving even tinted windows mask the cultural difference, I make the stop as there was a hazard or violation taking place that warranted it.
I didn’t take this job to be rich, I took this job as I felt I could make a difference. I like my job as I have the feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day that I did make a difference for someone.
Arrt makes many assertions and generalizations that are his experience or told to him by others. I have heard them too before, they just are not my experiences. I can’t answer him as that is not where I work and live.
Besides it being wrong, and or illegal to violate someones rights, I wouldn’t, couldn’t do something that would put my family and my future at risk.”
A busy evening. Yes, learned a little on some things. Other topics I learned a whole lot more. I didn’t get my answer as to how to reach those so disenfranchised they don’t want to change the cycle of violence. Maybe there isn’t one, but then again I do always put more faith in people than I should.
All pics by me. They will get bigger a with a quick stroke. For you techie nerds I shot them bracketed and then generated HDR files with Photomatix, tone-mapped them and then ran them for a final processing in Virtual Photographer.