Boston Dudley Do-Nothing

June 13th, 2012 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Growing up in houses filled with cops and with relatives who were staties, I am predisposed to liking police officers. They make it hard.

In my childhood, my mother ran Red Cross chapters, which involved training police and such in first aid and water safety, coordinating with and training ambulance and fire folk and co-hosting disaster preparedness weekends. We knew a lot of cops.

The other side of my thinking cops are the good guys is expecting them to behave that way. I think they should act to protect the public, drive like the best examples, know the laws, and enforce the letter and spirit of those laws.

For three decades though, I’ve lived in a town where a running joke about BPD folk in blue is “no blood, no ticket.” They seem loath to do anything that involves a ticket book or other paperwork. Moreover, too many, including the Commissioner, B.S. their way through life. That makes it hard to respect cops.

Today down in Logan Square around 2:30 PM, I had another experience with incompetent make-it-up-as-you-go policing. An officer saw a serious traffic law violation, but instead of enforcing the law, he showed both ignorance and lack of concern. It’s wearing.

The short of it is that I was walking to Cleary Square, westbound on River Street by the Hyde Park municipal building. Still healing from a broken clavicle and several busted ribs, I’m tricked out in an arm sling with my bright orange windbreaker. At 6 feet and nearly 200 pounds, I’m not camouflaged.

As I entered the crosswalk, a woman whipped around the right turn on River Street, almost stopping at the stop sign. She not only continued rolling toward me, but blew her car horn, as though this crippled guy should disappear and stop inconveniencing her.

When she honked, I thought there might be an acceptable reason, as another vehicle or other case where she was blowing to avoid a wreck, you know, the legal basis for horn blowing. Turning to my right toward her as I made my way across the crosswalk, I saw her raise her fist, mouth what looked like obscenities and swerve around me. She never stopped, as required by law. She certainly did not yield to a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk, as required by law. Of course, as a minor issue, she also used her car horn  to threaten instead of its allowable safety purpose.

I pointed to her as she whipped past, barely missing me and called, “Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks!” Then the amazing happened.

A uniformed BPD officer appeared…and proceeded to scold me. I told him that she had just broken multiple state laws and deserved a ticket with fines, likely license suspension and six years of insurance surcharge.

Unbelievably, he told me:

  • He would have gotten to it and handled it, if only I had not turned and pointed at the driver
  • I had no right to point at her
  • My actions, inexplicably by geometry and time, caused him not to apprehend the driver for the crimes he had witnessed
  • Even though my walking through the crosswalk had slowed the aggressive driver, his not bothering to take two or three strides toward her and stop her was somehow my fault and not that of his indolence

I came right back at him. He saw the crimes and did nothing. He did not step forward and stop the driver when he easily could have. She violated the failure to yield  law and was subject to a $200 fine and she used her horn to threaten, which I said was a Boston regulation.

He countered that it was a $100 fine and that if I had not turned toward the driver, he was going to do something. Somehow, he implied, it was my fault he made no effort to apprehend her.

I checked and I was almost entirely right. It is $200 for the crosswalk violation. However, the horn violation is of state law and not city regulation, with a $50 fine.

Maybe I should have snagged the cop’s badge and recorded the scofflaw driver’s plate. I’ve wearied of that over the years, particularly with Commissioner Davis’  total disingenuous responses to his officers’ behavior.

Here before me was yet another Boston cop who did not know the laws, who made up what he thought violations and fines were, who saw crimes committed and did nothing, and who chastened the victim instead of taking a couple of steps (literally) to grab the perp or even calling in her plate to the nearby station. What a slug!

He even said to me, “Do you think they know the laws?” I was aghast, as in he didn’t even know the laws.

I’ve known good cops in various places, including Boston. For over two decades, I shared the block as well as the first name with one of the best in Jamaica Plain. That Mike though is not the norm.

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7 Responses

  1. Robin Edgar says:

    I quite regularly have “experiences” with incompetent make-it-up-as-you-go policing during my “alternative spiritual practice” of protesting against Unitarian Universalist anti-religious intolerance and bigotry, UU clergy misconduct of all kinds, and various other UU injustices and abuses. Only in my case this “make-it-up-as-you-go policing” involves SPVM police officers making up BS excuses for demanding that I end my protest in front of the Unitarian Church Of Montreal. I even have a growing number of U*UTube videos documenting this incompetent “make-it-up-as-you-go policing”. Follow this link to view some of the more recent ones. Since these interactions with incompetent SPVM police officers sometimes occur several minutes into the videos I have provided links to the pertinent starting points in the descriptions on the actual YouTube videos which I suggest you click through to.

    As an added bonus I am providing this link to my latest U*UTube videos responding to the UUA’s most recent attempt at legal intimidation which involves a fair bit of ludicrous “make-it-up-as-you-go policing” such as accusing me of the archaic crime of blasphemous libel for speaking openly about some egregious clergy sexual misconduct committed by “less than perfect” U*U ministers. . .

  2. Grim says:

    Par for the course around here. As a cyclist who is regularly threatened by drivers in terms of proximity and horn use, I have had absolutely zero help from law enforcement on this issue. You may be predisposed to ‘like’ cops due to your upbringing, but unfortunately for the people without that influence they are equally as threatening as the person who just mugged me or tried to run me over.

  3. Mark says:

    Let us know if you ever see a cyclist come to a complete stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk. I’ve only seen it once.

    Complain that cops don’t enforce traffic laws for cyclists AT ALL! The result is more injuries and death, for example Kyaw’s death in Dec. 2011 in Cambridge – no front headlight at night. Enforcement to correct illegal behavior by cyclists would save more cyclists than more bike lanes.

  4. Harrumpher says:

    Mark, that’s quite a red herring on cyclists. If there’s any sincerity at all, follow me on my bike and behold the miracle of my stopping for signs, lights and peds in crosswalks. Often when I stop for pedestrians, as cars, trucks and buses blow by, the walkers triple check that I mean it. I call out, “You have the right of way.” I’ve also been known to stick out my left arm and hand, which has made scofflaw drivers yield as well. Show, don’t say.

  5. Megan Ramey says:

    This same thing happened on my bike in Kendall Square. A car traveling next to me in the bike lane did a right hook as I was going straight. He stopped, but he was on his phone and didn’t use his turn signal. I made a motion for him to roll down his window and he sped away.

    I was pretty flustered and when I looked up, I saw a moto-cop that was staring at me from across the intersection. When the light turned green, I biked over to him and asked if he had seen what happened, to which he replied, “I saw you bank your hand on his car.”

    After I explained that the driver had broken the law and was distracted driving he said, “mam, I’m just telling you what I saw”. I told him nothing would change until the police started protecting the most vulnerable users of the road. He replied, “things will change when you bicyclists stop running red lights.”

    I told him that I would be more than happy to have a conversation with him about this and he said, “I don’t have time for this,” and sped off the sidewalk in his motorcycle pretty close to a woman with a stroller.

    I reported the incident to the City of Cambridge police department and said I was fine if it didn’t go on his record as long as he took bicycle training and had to be a bike cop for a week or so.

  6. Uncle says:

    Just back on my commuting bike after a long hiatus, with the same morons on the road–two, four and no wheeled types, but I don’t want to get into cars vs bikes, but the original point. I had my default respect for the law knocked out of me by a Sociology prof who took the extreme alternative view. He maintained that most police are working class guys for whom the job is nothing more than a way up the economic ladder. Expect no more than that and you’ll never be disappointed, he said. This position, seasoned with his many examples and some I’ve seen myself, has stayed with me ever since.

  7. Brian says:

    Get a life you losers.

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