One of the surprises when I relocated to Deseret was that state trooper highway patrolmen would often hide behind large structures waiting for speeders. This surprised me because in Delosa from what I understand they’re not allowed to do that. As I understand the law to be, the police shield, word “Police”, or overhead lights must be visible to oncoming traffic unless (a) The police officer is mobile in the middle of routine business when he catches the violator or (b) they are supervising a construction or school zone and are not visible because they’re behind another vehicle.

The city of Phillippi actually replaced a bunch of police cars and police lighting systems that didn’t have overhead police lights because lawyers were getting tickets dismissed. When the car was parked on the side of the road, the shield wasn’t visible and there weren’t overhead lights. It was a small investment to bring in a lot of future revenue.

Cops in Delosa work around this rule in a number of ways. There was one popular place in Phillippi for cops to hide wherein most of the car is obstructed by brush but there is just enough to see the shield in the right slant of light. Since judges have signed off on it, the local constable’s office used it right up until something was built there. It’s also not uncommon for some police departments to schedule routine operations to involve going back and forth in areas where people frequently speed or red lights are run.

I was informed upon moving to Estacado that the laws here are the same as they are in Delosa where cops can’t out-and-out hide. Santomas cops are very, very innovative when it comes to skirting this requirement. Their highway fleet has no overhead lights and are atypical police car colors (Silver, gray, green). The cars are marked with the word “Police” but you can only see the marking if your headlights on are on and hitting the car. The cars are always parked at a 45 degree angle or so. In other words, despite meeting the letter of the law, it’s difficult to tell that they’re police cars until people know what to look for.

That’s just it, though. People learn what to look for. I’ve already figured it out. The cars are parked at a 45 degree angle, are Chevy Cavaliers or Cavalier-looking cars (adding them to the Camaros, Caprices, Impalas, and Crown Vics as cars to be suspicious of), have a slightly unusual hew of whatever color the car is so that the reflective paint blends in, and are parked at a 45 degree angle or so.

But to me, though, the really odd part is that they don’t actually have to cheat. The average flow of traffic on I-31 is above the speed limit in all but the right lane. The city of Santomas has lower speed limits than the freeways in surrounding counties. It is nearly impossible for me to believe that they couldn’t find speeders without resorting to such tricks.

Of course, the law that protects us from cops is a bit silly in and of itself. It’s not illegal to knowingly speed in front of a police officer. It’s unlawful to speed at all whether a cop is present or not. Theoretically, then, the police officers should be able to deploy any means they wish short of entrapment or Constitutional abridgments in their pursuit of “dangerous” drivers. In a sense, laws like this as well as caps on ticket revenue and special outs to avoid your insurance company finding out about your misdeeds underline what a game this all is.

If we were serious about speed limits, there’d be speed cameras placed everywhere. Any time you speed you get a ticket. Even if the ticket is $5, it’ll start adding up and drivers will modify their behavior accordingly. Cars will start coming equipped with a new kind of cruise control where you set a maximum speed so that you inadvertently don’t go over the speed limit. Revenue from tickets would go towards something other than the general funds of the municipality to avoid incentives to set speed limits to low.

None of the above changes are coming down the pipe any time soon, so we’re back to the games of wackily-painted police cars hiding behind not-completely-opaque bushes.

Category: Courthouse

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4 Responses to Cat & Mouse

  1. Peter says:

    Checy Cavalier police cars? What’s next, Yugos?

  2. Gannon says:

    Pour counties in Latinamerica always seek to increase their archs through traffic tickets, which can be as high as 50% of a minimum monthly wage.

  3. ecco says:

    It’s interesting to see that other states still do speed traps like that. I’ve only seen it happen very rarely in California, and then they usually wait for the most extreme of cases. Then again, because everyone speeds, it’s really easy to get pulled over.

  4. trumwill says:

    Well, you’d never expect a Cavalier parked on the side of the road of being a cop, now would you? Mission accomplished! 🙂

    That’s scary stuff. During the state budget deficits in the early 00’s, a lot of states started massively increasing traffic fines, but nothing like what you’re talking about. That’s criminal.

    Do they make any distinctions about what constitutes speeding to the point of being pulled over? In Delosa if you’re going more than 5 over in a residential street, 10 on a commercial street, and 15 over on a freeway you’re at risk. Stay under that and you’ll only rarely be pulled over.

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