Let me say first that I have a lot of respect for the police. It’s a completely shitty job with very few benefits and not a lot of pay or glory. You have to direct traffic in the freezing cold and the pouring rain. You have to deal with degenerates and the scum of the Earth on a daily basis. It has to get to you after a while, especially when everybody gives you a bad rap all the time. Not to mention, it’s a dangerous job; one I’m certainly not willing to do.
I don’t understand (not being one myself), but I certainly sympathize. However, there is a rather visible minority of cops who are, as we all know, nothing more than high school bullies with a gun and virtually unchecked power. One of these assholes pulled me and Dan over tonight on the way home from decapitatedchicken’s house early this morning.
It was 1:00 AM and we were in the part of Pittsburgh where I live (which is heavily residential, near the Universities). I was sitting at a light and a cop was across the intersection from me. I could’ve made a right on red but opted not to, seeing as how the cop was there and I’m never quite sure where you can make a right on red in Pittsburgh. Either way, I didn’t want to give him an excuse to pull me (God knows he must’ve been bored — patrolling this part of town at 1:00 AM is like patrolling a geriatric ward).
I made the turn when the light went green and proceeded to search for a parking space. In the process of doing so, I was weaving through residential street after residential street. On one occasion, after stopping at a stop sign, I made a right. This guy, who had been casing me the whole time, flipped his lights on and pulled me.
I knew I stopped at the sign (I saw him following me), so what could he be pulling me for? The officer got out of his car and came over to mine, looking like a broke-ass Biff from Back to the Future.
He got my license and registration and asked me some shit that wasn’t any of his business (like where I went to school). The hilarious thing about this is that during the course of this routine traffic stop, BACKUP ARRIVED. It’s hard to believe, but it really happened. A second cop car rolled in, lights flashing. Now I know that some of the readers here don’t know Dan and myself personally, but try and imagine how much of a threat two philosophy graduate students must seem.
Finally he told me the reason for pulling me over. Get ready, here it is:
>>I FAILED TO USE MY RIGHT-HAND TURN SIGNAL AT THE STOP SIGN.<<
I’ll let that sink in for a moment. 1:00 AM, nobody on the road except for him and I, and in a residential part of town — this guy pulls me over for not using my turn signal while hunting for a spot. Un-fucking-believable.
The worst part about this is, I can guarantee you that some poor folks five blocks east of me in the ghetto were either getting robbed, assaulted, or murdered while I was getting pulled over. Some of the roughest ghettos in America are literally no further than ten blocks east of here, and the fucked up thing is that the cops here completely ignore that part of town. All they care about is containment so that they can protect the gentrified areas of town and the areas surrounding the Universities. In Pittsburgh, there really is two sides of the tracks (in a precise sense — the busway; it provides a geographical barrier that prevents “spillover crime”, along with increased police presence in the privileged area south of the barrier).
But hey, that’s cool. Let all the real crime occur while you case sleepy, safe white neighborhoods hoping to score a petty fine or two. It’s an absolute disgrace — the police department should not be a secondary source of municipal revenue, nor should its resources be used for simple, petty harassment. Rather, they should be out making the city safe (which is what they’re paid to do, ideally). And boy I’ll tell you what — I sure feel a lot safer knowing that the rampant right-hand-turn-signal-on-a-deserted-road problem is being properly addressed.
Long story short, he didn’t fine me, which came as a complete shock (what’s the fine for an offense like that anyway? a nickle and a candy bar?). On our way back from the parking space which I finally found, Dan and I were sure not to jaywalk.