Former Cop Proposes Law That Would Allow Officers To Ticket You Without Ever Leaving The 'Safety' Of Their Vehicles

from the safety-first! dept

Well, we know for sure that one person thinks this is a good idea, but if this bill passes intact, it will only further confirm the theory that legislators are unable to think more than one step ahead. (via The Consumerist)

An Oklahoma state senator has filed a bill to allow law enforcement officers to issue electronic citations for traffic, misdemeanor and municipal ordinance violations.

A former police officer, Sen. Al McAffrey, said Senate Bill 1872 would protect law enforcement personnel during traffic stops.

“Allowing officers to issue electronic citations will help better protect them. If they don’t have to approach vehicles during traffic stops to give people tickets but can simply email traffic violation citations directly to the district court clerk then they’re less likely to get into a dangerous altercation,” said McAffrey, D-Oklahoma City.

Officer safety must always be the first (and apparently, only) consideration when drafting legislation, at least when it’s a former cop doing the drafting. McAffrey doesn’t seem to have considered exactly how awful this plan is — or just doesn’t care.

McAffrey wants to make sure officers are safe, but seemingly has no similar concerns about the public. Ticketing someone electronically — without ever interacting with the driver — will make the roads less safe. What if the driver is under the influence? There’s no way for the officer to make this determination without an interaction. What appears to be a minor moving violation may actually be the symptom of something more serious. The officer also won’t be able to determine whether the driver is licensed to operate a vehicle. Worse, the automated process will send the ticket to the vehicle owner rather than the actual driver, and negatively affect the wrong person’s driving record and insurance rates. And as for the “threat” McAffrey seems so worried police officers might confront, does it really make sense to protect the officer but leave the arguably dangerous person free to cause harm elsewhere?

Ultimately, the worst side effect of this bill is that it will lower the bar for ticket writing. Officers will be able to write more tickets for more violations (even minor ones that would previously go unnoticed) simply because they won’t be slowed by interactions with the public. Removing this friction will increase the number of tickets issued, whether truly warranted or not. Traffic cams spit out tons of tickets because the “decision” is binary and wholly removed from public interaction. Cops with an e-ticket platform will likely become indistinguishable from the unblinking eyes watching over many American cities. And once this new way of policing kicks in, the cities utilizing the method will find the increased revenue hard to resist, which will prompt even more questionable legislation and tactics further down the line.

Here’s more on the justification for this absurd piece of legislation from McAffrey:

“Routine traffic stops are one of the most dangerous times for officers to become injured because they don’t know what kind of situation or individual they’re approaching. They’re walking up blind,” said McAffrey. “We need to provide better protection for them by not putting them in harm’s way unnecessarily. By allowing them to submit electronic citations, they’d no longer have to leave the safety of their car.”

Well, if we want them to be truly safe, just blanket the state with cameras and allow those to issue the citations. We all know what a bang up job the cameras do, and this way no officer needs to be troubled to exit their vehicle, or perhaps even bother driving down to the station to clock in. After all, as we’re all aware from countless seat belt PSAs, most accidents happen during short commutes like the daily drive to work. And why limit them to traffic citations? Enough cameras will certainly net a few felonies and calls into dispatch can be handled via an online questionnaire. (“Are you in danger?” [ ] Yes [ ] No [ ] Undecided) We can’t have officers “walking blind” into domestic violence incidents or putting themselves in harm’s way by interacting with citizens trying to report theft or a missing person. Let’s ensure these officers are never forced to navigate the deadly streets of Anytown, OK ever again.

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Comments on “Former Cop Proposes Law That Would Allow Officers To Ticket You Without Ever Leaving The 'Safety' Of Their Vehicles”

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art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Can't stand the heat?

here is my broken record on the subject:

1. kops are NOT killed on the job in ANY sort of huge numbers, that is a LIE… firefighters are KILLED on the job (not die from fire, etc) TWICE as much as donut eaters…
2. cabbies are KILLED on the job about 5-6 times the rate of kops…
3. retail clerks are KILLED on the job at a higher rate than piggies…
4. no, those over-stuffed, lazy, borderline personalities are NOT threatened inordinately on the job, THEY are the ones doing the threatening and killing…
5. thanks to the writer for pointing out what i was going to: why not just sit back in the office, watch the monitors, and issue citations by email to FUCKING EVERYONE… (oh, EXCEPT kops and kop-friends, i’m betting…)
6. as goons for Empire, the praetorian guard gets away with MURDER, mere citizens can’t look squinty-eyed at Empire without getting jacked up…

Steve Dude says:

Re: Can't stand the heat?

Well, if LEO’s wouldn’t act like such bullies, didn’t intimidate and harass people, didn’t carry guns while insisting that you can’t, didn’t have the power to legally get away with murder, would act within the constraints of the US Constitution, treated people with respect and dignity, and weren’t such total A**holes, maybe they wouldn’t be shot at, when they come into contact with the public.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Right, I see it now, n/m.

I didn’t see the couple there as the owners, and having the part about ‘owner gets ticket instead of driver’ from the main article still in my mind; i did indeed read over that. My bad.

I hooked into the wrong comment. But the owner vs. driver isn’t as much of an issue as people who are raising that point make it out to be.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Sure it is. You are not supposed to be charged with a crime unless they have probable cause that you committed it. This is not bothering to make the effort to make sure you are charging the right person. There is a reason that you are asked to sign the ticket. It is proof that the person who signed the ticket is the person who was driving.

JBDragon says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s one think if your car is Stolen because you would write up a Police Report on that to report it!! If/When you get a Ticket, you have Legal Proof you were not driving because it was stolen.

If you let a friend or Family Member drive your car, you’ll get the ticket and it’ll have to be paid!!! You have zero proof that you were not driving the car at that time. Have you ever watched that TV show Parking Wars, I think that’s the name. People get tickets, their car would get booted, whatever, and go in and then bitch and complain that it wasn’t them. IT DOESN’T MATTER, they all ended up paying!!!

You’re only resort is to NEVER let anyone drive your car, period!!! Who knows what they are doing otherwise. So YES you are still Responsible!!! That goes for Red Light Camera’s also. The ONLY way you would get out of it is the 1 thing you brought up, you car Stolen!!! Then again you would get out of pretty much anything that happened with your care also. Used for a Bank job Get away car as a example. Because you filed a stolen Vehicle Police Report!!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

There is a difference though between parking violations and moving violations. You cannot be arrested for ignoring parking tickets as they are administrative violations not criminal ones. You can for moving violations. And the reason is that they have no way of proving that you committed any crime with parking tickets as they cannot prove who parked the car there. And arresting some one under a charge when you have absolutely no way of proving which person committed the offense opens them up to huge liabilities for false imprisonment. Same thing with tickets issued from red light cameras. So instead, what they do is send you threatening letters to try to scare you into paying them and if the car gets enough of the parking tickets and they find it on the street, they either tow or boot it and effectively hold the car hostage from the owner until he pays the tickets or gets them all dismissed in court, a process that by design is an exercise in frustration during which they still are withholding his car.

RyanNerd (profile) says:

Routine Stops

My aunt lost her husband this way. He pulled a car over for a broken signal light. When he approached the car he was shot in the face point blank killing him. (The car was stolen and the theives thought that’s why they were pulled over.)
That said, I don’t think this legislation is a good idea. I don’t think my aunt would either. This is a risk that comes with the job… and the potential for abuse is HUGE.

ChrisB (profile) says:

Re: Routine Stops

My brother-in-law’s partner lost his life this way, too. Approached a car with a guy who had just robbed a bank, and ended up dead.

It annoys me that Tim and the other cop-haters on this site whip up hatred for the 99.9% of good cops because of 0.1% of bad cops, and then wonder why cops are trying to protect themselves?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Routine Stops

While I somehow doubt that only .1% of cops have ever abused their position I also feel like most cops are unfairly represented. Unfortunately, we hold police to their position and trust them to do their job, and when that trust is breached by even ONE cop it affects our ability to trust any of them.

Steve Dude says:

Re: Re: Re: Routine Stops

Well, just think about what you just said Anonymous Coward. How many cops were killed or seriously injured by civilians in the line of duty in the last ten years, then look at how many citizens were killed or seriously injured by cops in the same time frame. I think even you would have to agree that the average citizen is much more likely to be injured or killed by a LEO than an LEO is to be harmed by a citizen. In fact citizens are far more likely to be killed by a cop than by a criminal. But who do we allow to be armed at all times? That’s right the bully thugs in uniform that have no respect for anyone. Hell, even criminals don’t go around shooting women and children, but cops do. As for that .1% , you got that all wrong. You should have said it’s the bad cops that give the other 5% a bad name.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Routine Stops

‘0.1%’? Even if that was the percentage of truly, directly rotten cops, every single other officer that refuses to hold them accountable, every one who remains silent when a ‘fellow officer’ abuses their authority, all of them are just as bad as the ones they ‘defend’, whether through silence or inaction, so the percentage of ‘bad cops’ is most certainly higher than 0.1%.

Also, ‘Cop-haters’? Here’s a question for you, why should someone not hold contempt for those that abuse their authority? Why should people not hate those that are supposed to serve and protect people, and who instead use their position and power to abuse and harass them?

A misconception that I’ve seen several times when the topic comes up, and one that you seem to share, is that articles like this are ‘anti-cop’, or ‘anti-police’. They’re not. What they are is ‘anti-corrupt cop’, ‘anti-corrupt police’, or at the core ‘anti-abuse of authority’.

If the topic being discussed is about how an officer, or a group of them, is abusing their authority and power, and those that defend cops, whether because they wear the badge too or just believe they’re truly trying to help people assume that the accusation and blame is aimed at them too, they really need to ask themselves, ‘Why am I getting defensive when a bad cop is being called out on their bad behavior? If I am not a bad or corrupt officer, or if I really believe that police should not be allowed to abuse their authority, then such accusations have nothing to do with me, and in fact I should encourage them, to better the police as a whole by rooting out the ones that don’t deserve to wear the uniform.’

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Routine Stops

Reminds me of the rhetorical weasel words you see from what passes as news from so-called journalists. “Anti-government protests” to describe the Ukrainian protesters. They use words that aren’t technically wrong but troublingly targeted emphasis. Sounds reasonable enough at first glance, protesting against their government. However it insinuates the mythical anarchists of “crazed rabble who want to destroy civilization” sort.

The cynic in me wonders if it is due to reporter laziness and taking the lies from the embattled administration or if they are subtly demonizing them because don’t want their viewers getting ideas.

You can see hints of that kind of behaviour in all sorts of places such as what they find notable and not notable enough to include in headlines. One I have noticed that pops up often is emphasizing the age of youth suspects for when they do and don’t list specific ages. You see cases of 19 year olds being described as “teenaged gunmen”, “15 year old leading in brutal attack”. Yet you never see “43 year old gunman shoots up workplace”, “53 year old accused of child molestation” as the headlines. It is “Workplace shooting” and maybe, just maybe list the guys age once.

Keep an eye out for these attempts at influence.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Routine Stops

Fair enough – when the 99.9% of these supposed “good” cops start policing their own (read: turning them in and arresting them for their crimes, instead of transferring them, or allowing them to continue to roam free), then maybe JUST MAYBE – the rest of us will start to have some sympathy.

Go cry me a river – if your job is too hard, find another line of work.

RyanNerd (profile) says:

Re: Re: Routine Stops

It is unfortunate with the society that we live in that stuff like this happens. I have mixed feelings about this. Because unfortunately abuse of power happens (way too often). When someone has the authority to put you in jail, shoot you, etc. there needs to be a careful oversight of these activities to make sure they are justified.
So for a police officer to be able to exert this kind of authority and power from the driver seat of his police cruiser really bothers me.
I am also VERY concerned about the militarization of the police.
The military is there to fight the enemies of the state. The police are there to protect and serve. When the police become the military the citizens become the enemy.

Johnny Shade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Routine Stops

Actually, as a former Military Police, I object to your characterization of myself as a “Cop Hater” The objection is not to trying to keep LEO’s safe, but to all the pitfalls that this could introduce. The idea is that a police officer has to be able to swear, under oath, that the person in the courtroom is the person that they ticketed.

Anonymous Coward says:

So many fees

They sure like adding fees to tickets. Not including the court costs, they charge fees of $6, $10, $25, $3, and $3, and they want to add another $5. Hey, somebody has to pay for that law library! And how can you expect the court costs to cover courthouse security, or their IS systems? And who could be against a fund to prevent child abuse? Or one for victim services? And they don’t even say what that other fee is for, but I’m sure it’s for something important!

ChrisB (profile) says:

Re: Any actuaries present?

Not true. Stats for number of deaths in an industry do not account for number of employees in that industry, how many hours they work, and whether there are safety precautions are in place.

Underwater welding is much much more dangerous than farming, but no one dies because the safety procedures are intensive and few people do it.

New Mexico Mark says:

risk of altercation?

A few quick points:

Unless I’m missing something, it seems that if a driver is willing to start an altercation simply because they were pulled over, that is *exactly* the kind of person that a real “protect and serve” police officer would be trying to get off the street.

If this bill is passed, can police salaries and authority be lowered and their titles changed to “meter maid”? Oh… be sure to confiscate their weapons as well, since they won’t be at risk.

Does this state senator think the society portrayed in “Demolition Man” is actually a blueprint for the future of law enforcement?

Anonymous Coward says:

at this point I question, why have police at all? They can’t be bothered to do even those already rather low risk jobs, they don’t really go after real criminals except very few high profile cases to make a name for themselves and some types of crimes (economical, political) are not prosecuted because of protection from high up.

The only thing they really seem to do is harass and assault normal people who’ve done nothing wrong and copyright enforcement as armed thugs for the entertainment mafia.

really, they don’t protect people, they don’t uphold the law, and can’t give a shit about actual order, so why exactly do we have them around?

MikeC (profile) says:

Take all the fun out

If we do that, how is the cop going to get to strip search and violate 2 women, shoot at a car full of kids, taser a 14 year old or kill a man who’s trying to get help after he wrecked his car. They can’t perform illegal searches, violate someones rights, racially profile them too. It will give them more time to patrol the schools and arrest 8 year olds for blowing spitwads from a straw or sexual harassment.

Sounds like a good plan to lessen the issues of folks getting abused by the armed police forces since they don’t even have to talk to you to fine you.

Rekrul says:

Many years ago, my grandfather woke up one morning to find his pillow soaked in blood. He was bleeding profusely from his nose. My grandmother gave him a large bowl to catch the blood and they rushed off to the local hospital. About halfway there she was pulled over by the police. The officer came up to her window, saw my grandfather sitting in the passenger seat with a bowl half full of blood, told her to follow him and gave her a police escort to the hospital. No ticket was issued. After doctors packed his nose, they sent him home. Partway home, the blood started to soak through the packing and drip out again, so my grandmother made an illegal U-turn and sped back to the hospital, risking another traffic stop.

If this law had been in effect, what would her options have been? Not stop and risk the cop calling for a road block and spike strips? Get out of the car to explain the situation and risk being shot or tasered, or at the very least arrested for not obeying a cop when he screams at her to get back in her car?

BTW, it turned out to be an improperly set bone in my grandfather’s nose that had grown and was cutting into his sinuses.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Worse, the automated process will send the ticket to the vehicle owner rather than the actual driver, and negatively affect the wrong person’s driving record and insurance rates.”

And this will be the way for anyone wanting to contest these tickets to pretty much automatically get them dismissed since the prosecutor will have absolutely no evidence to prove that the person issued the citation was the person who allegedly committed the offense. In conventional traffic stop, the officer pulls the vehicle over and physically witnesses the driver step out of the vehicle and looks at the license of the driver which allows him to testify to the identity of the person. Furthermore, the driver is required to sign the ticket creating a record that can be used to authenticate the identity of the driver. It’s the same situation you have with red light cameras. The reason they won’t care about this is that so many people just up and pay compared to those who fight the tickets because they don’t understand their rights or simply don’t want to deal with the hassle, so the fact that they will be bringing cases with gaping holes in them won’t matter. They will make up the difference in volume due to the increased efficiency.

boomslang says:

“Ultimately, the worst side effect of this bill is that it will lower the bar for ticket writing.”


Ultimately the worst side effects are, as you mentioned: “What if the driver is under the influence? … What appears to be a minor moving violation may actually be the symptom of something more serious. The officer also won’t be able to determine whether the driver is licensed to operate a vehicle.”

You are saying that there being a slightly greater chance of people being ticketed is worse than someone being killed in a drunk driving-related vehicular homicide! Listen to yourself!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Actually, I think the worst thing is the further erosion of the public’s Constitutional rights. People are not supposed to be charged with a crime (regardless of how minor) without probable cause that the person being charged committed a crime. When you charge the registrant of the vehicle with a moving violation and have absolutely no knowledge of whether that person is the one driving that vehicle, you are violating that person’s rights under the Constitution.

OldGeezer (profile) says:

In the famous words of Bill Cosby: “That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard”.
Make about as much as assuming that the person paying the bill at an IP address is an infringer. What if the car has just been stolen and not reported?
Who is going to be held responsible when a cop issues a minor ticket to a driver that turns out to be drunk and he kills someone a few minutes later? Cops are trained to spot even subtle sings of impairment. They could also recognize wanted criminals or fleeing suspects from a crime just committed. They might see weapons in a car on the way to a drive by shooting.
Unfortunately some risk is involved in being in law enforcement. That includes unexpected results at what appears to be a routine traffic stop. Don’t you ever watch “Cops”? If you don’t have the balls for that go into another line of work.

Scote (profile) says:

San Francisco is already issuing retroactive tickets by bus mounted cameras

Issuing tickets without informing the victim – er, I mean “violator” – seems like an area ripe for abuse. How many tickets could a cop give you for one act of speeding? One an hour? One a minute? Infinite?

San Francisco is already issuing tickets based on review of footage from externally mounted cameras on public transit buses. The footage is reviewed for violations of the bus lane driving and parking rules (even people still in their cars get tickets – which wouldn’t happen if they saw a meter maid approaching). They are even ticketing people who have pulled off the road to safely make a text or phone call and.)

So what this guy is proposing is already happening in a slightly different way.

kenichi tanaka (profile) says:

“they?re less likely to get into a dangerous altercation”

Forgive me for this but I laughed at the absurdity of that comment in the article quoting an ex-cop. Seriously? If police officers don’t want to get into a dangerous altercation then THEY NEED TO FIND A DIFFERENT JOB.

Everything about being a cop is dangerous. That’s what they get paid to do. To say that police officers shouldn’t get involved in dangerous altercations and to pass laws to that effect is akin to turning police officers into Girl Scouts with guns.

PlayNicely says:

We have to challenge the idea that the safety of the officers (or firefighters, or soldiers, or people in any number of dangerous but necessary professions) is the most important aspect of their duty.

Safety is one aspect of their work, no question there, but to declare it the most important one is absurd. The safest place for a police officer is probably his office, by that logic actual policework would be impossible.

The very point of having police officers is to have professionally trained and well equipped people willing and able to expose themselves to a certain calculated and managed amount of danger in order to enforce the law and to protect the people. That is what they are payed for, both in money and in privilege.

Even in the alternative narrative whereby police officers are there to keep the people in line and to protect the interests of the elites they are the ones whose role is to expose themselves to danger in pursuit of certain goals.

Anonymous Coward says:

Don't they realise ?

Cops will lose their jobs. A lower paid unqualified guy in an unmarked car can go around issuing the tickets and the PD can layoff the expensive cops.
Doesn’t sound like something a police union would approve of if they thought it through.

This all supports the rest of the world’s stereotype of a US cop as an overweight donut eater who can’t climb out of the cruiser, who would shoot an unarmed man rather than make the effort to simply chase him down and arrest him properly.

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