Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine.

Monday, February 05, 2007

I may be police at my day job, but in my spare time I...

...catch drunk drivers.

I was heading home tonight from a relatively uneventful night of patrol, when I suddenly noticed that a pickup that had been passing me in the fast lane had suddenly swerved to my lane, and was separated by only a few feet. "Uh oh," thought I, "What's all this? I downshifted and gathered a few yards of safety between us, and began to notice that the pickup was veering from straddling the broken white line lane demarcation and straddling the solid white line marking the right shoulder. I punched it, got a few more yards of distance, signaled, and changed lanes to get into the left lane. Now safely in the passing lane, I hit the brakes, and let him pass me on the right. I watched him for all of 8 seconds before reaching for the PD cell and dialing 911.

For the next 20 minutes, I called out exits, mile markers, landmarks, and speeds (47 to 80 mph in a posted 65 zone) to the dispatcher as we wandered around the good-sized city that I followed him through. I finally followed him off an exit, and through a couple of red lights that he blew. I thought maybe he was trying to elude me at that point. Nope. A marked unit cruised up alongside me, and I pointed at the pickup. After 2 blocks, they (two more units arrived) got him stopped.

I had told the dispatcher that I was in uniform, and that I was stopping with the officers, but here's a clue to you all good Samaritans out there who want to stop with the police when they've made a traffic stop.
Don't.
Stop.
Behind them.

Pass them carefully, signal clearly, and stop well forward of them, in their pool of light and well off the road if you can possibly do so. Then turn on your hazards, and wait your turn. When approached, you can get out or stay in the car and wave them up. I usually prefer to get out and wait.

This does several good things: It puts you down beyond the person that they're already focused on. That means that the immediate threat is still the one that they chose. (Yes, you represent a threat when you're an unknown.) That also protects you and the officer because your car is not behind his, blocking the lights shed from his flashers and arrow stick. Wouldn't you rather be downstream of that, and thus in the "lee" of traffic?
It also puts you into his lights, at night, meaning that he has you at the biggest disadvantage and at his biggest advantage. That's good for you, because, trust me-- nobody likes Nervous Cop. He's not much fun. If you're behind him, he's gong to come back to you first, and he's not going to be happy that you've interupted what he was doing.

So after a minute or so, I saw one of the officers headed my way, and got out. "TELL me he's not just sleepy," I said.

The other officer laughed. "Oh, no!" he said. "He's quite impaired. We're going to request a blood draw. Can I get your.. Ah! Excellent!" he exclaimed as I handed him a card.

"Do you need anything else?" I asked.

"Nope. We'll take it from here," he said.

So I got to score a DWI for the night, and don't even have to carry any paperwork. Score!

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4 Comments:

At Monday, February 05, 2007 3:48:00 PM, Anonymous Michael said...

Well done. . . Thank you. . .

 
At Monday, February 05, 2007 9:36:00 PM, Anonymous Too Much To Say said...

Matt - you have a way of telling 'em. Thanks for the opportunity to smile and for the information you gave.

 
At Wednesday, February 07, 2007 7:55:00 AM, Anonymous Al T. said...

I do the same thing. I hate drunk drivers, so I "light" them up via cell anytime I see one. One trick - around here the small town cops are somewhat bored, while the SCHP and Sherrif's Deputies are busy. Guess who I ask for when the 911 operator answers? My "success" rate went up bunches when I figured this out.

 
At Wednesday, February 07, 2007 5:58:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Exactly, Al. I love catching the "Reckless Driver" call at drunk thirty when I'm bored.

 

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