Unfair Police Tactics

Just last August 2007, the small Redford Township in western Wayne County had to recall a month old policy which practically encouraged police officers to give speeding tickets. The scheme was created by the town council to increase the town’s treasury.

The revoked police paid police officers bonuses for writing traffic tickets beyond their quota. So by just issuing more traffic citations to motorists, the local cops received extra pay.

It was the protesting of the Mary Church Terrell Council for Community Empowerment in neighboring Detroit which made the community council to step back and repealed their policy. The group claimed that in the end of the day, speed traps are bad for business since motorists will learn to avoid communities where they can be harassed or be given ludicrous traffic citations.

This is a classic example of when communities fight back against unfair practices imposed by the same people that are supposed to maintain a just and impartial system.

Earlier this year a family in Georgia went on its own and set up speed trap. They were upset and concerned that motorists were speeding through their neighborhood. But their video cameras and a radar gun caught an unexpected violator.

They caught on camera Kennesaw police officer Richard Perrone driving 17 mph over the speed limit. The family sent the police officer constant emails about his violation. Perrone got irked and filed a complaint against the family. According to the family, the police officer also harassed and intimidated them. Perrone later withdrew his complaint.

This gives us an impression that people who uphold the law are except from it. Equality is the key; however, even ordinary motorists received different treatments from local police officers. This reminded me of a study conducted a few year back on who were likely to receive a traffic ticket.

In 2003, Boston Globe came out with an analysis of issued traffic tickets and warnings. Their study showed that race, sex and age are factors that determine who gets a fine, a warning or who gets a break for the same offenses.

According to their study, minorities and men are least likely to receive warnings than the average white female driver. The Boston Globe came to this conclusion after analyzing state records, mostly from every police department in the state. They analyzed 166,000 tickets and warnings from every police department in the state in a two-month period, April and May of 2001.

The same study indicated that local police in all the cited drivers for speeding 45 mph. in a 30 mph. Zone, 31 percent of the time white drivers are issued a ticket compared to the 49 percent of minorities who received a ticket.

Moreover, it appeared in their study that white women were allowed to drive faster without penalty, while minority men received harshest reprimand. In a 30 mph. zone, white women were ticketed 28 percent of the time, white men 34 percent of the time, minority women 44 percent, and minority men 52 percent of the time.

Although, the studies were conducted in 2001, I can’t say that the issue is no longer relevant today. It would be interesting to find out the present day statistics and if the Boston Globe analysis still holds true.

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