Saturday, April 14, 2007

Another "Law for Thee, But Not For Me" To Go by the Wayside

Regular Musings readers know that I'm no fan of red-light cameras, and the city of Dallas is doing something about one of the many problems caused by these devices:
Dallas police and firefighters will soon have to pay up if they run afoul of the city's red-light cameras.

Starting Sunday, any Dallas police officer in a marked squad car who is captured on the city's cameras running a red light will have to pay the $75 fine if the incident doesn't comply with state law.

Firefighters who run red lights will have to pay if they're not on an emergency run.
This makes total sense to me. But, as you can imagine, the subjects of this regulation are none too happy:
Many police officers are angry about the proposed policy. The prevailing belief among officers has been that they can run red lights as they see fit.
And there's the problem in a nutshell. People who are charged with enforcing the laws should make sure that they are obeying those same laws themselves. Otherwise we have a double standard, hypocrisy, all that bad stuff.

And after all the deaths of innocent bystanders (by-drivers?) at the hands of speeding or light-running officers who didn't have their sirens or emergency flashers on, there really shouldn't be too many occasions where those flashers and sirens aren't engaged to begin with. You can talk all you want to about losing the "element of surprise" when trying to catch a bad guy, but the minute that such action would endanger someone else, it's time to do something different. And we definitely need to avoid future situations like this one:
Cameras recorded an officer on routine patrol not only running a red light, but also turning left from the center lane rather than from the turn lane. "He is being counseled in an effort to correct his driving," Lt. Lannom said. "We're looking at correcting the driving habits of officers."
I sure hope so.

I've recently before about how our lawmakers shouldn't be exempt from the laws they pass for the rest of us, and I believe that should apply to those who enforce the law as well. In Dallas, at least the Fire Department has the right idea:
"We don't really have a lot of business running lights, period," {Fire Department spokesman] Lt. [Joel] Lavender said. "If you mess up and you're not on an emergency run, you get a ticket. They're subject to the same penalty, in addition to being punished by the fire department."
That's a good policy, guys. I hope the police see the light.

Here's an officer who gets it: A sheriff in Green Bay wrote himself a ticket for making an unsafe lane change. Key quote: "As sheriff, I'm held to the highest standard in law enforcement. How can I hold officers accountable if I don't hold myself accountable?" he said. "I'm satisfied I'm doing the right thing."

And here's a kind-hearted crook: A man robbing a Florida convenience store apologized to the clerk he was robbing and allowed her to call 911 after she began to hyperventilate and thought she might be having a heart attack. (He still fled with $30 and some cigarettes.)

Blowing out the candles: Happy birthday to my Aunt Nora in Indiana!

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