Thursday, August 24, 2006

Supercop

Supercop is a police officer I see on a regular basis. For starters I should mention that he's a good guy and is reasonably pleasant, to me at least.

He writes a lot of speeding tickets and takes this more seriously than any other cop I have met. I've been told he has a nickname among his fellow officers due to his overenthusiasm (combined with a bit of a slight) but I won't mention it because that might identify him too easily. Apparently he's particularly eager with high speeds (over 90) and with motorcycles.

Some of the police we see are generally willing to give good deals on speeding ticket cases. As attorneys, we're always hoping to get our clients a parking ticket. Supercop will rarely agree to this, even when the speed is fairly low. There are a few others like him so he's not alone in this.

Recently I had a case with Supercop and he did something I'd never seen before. I show up to Court with my client's DMV record. A lot of cops will also show up with the DMV record. Supercop goes further. Apparently there's a database out there that shows not only the DMV record, but also what tickets the person had and what reduction they got. The DMV record only shows the convictions, and parking tickets don't show up. My client in this particular case had a speed reduced to a parking ticket, and Supercop knew about it -- I didn't. In this particular case it didn't affect the deal, but it was still a surprise.

I'm a little concerned about the existence of this database. Is this a secret database? Who has access to it? Can someone submit a FOIL request to find out what information the government has on them? Where would we submit the request to?

Getting back to Supercop, as with many other officers, I suspect they're somewhat hypocritical. I have the strong sense that many cops drive at high speed whenever they want, while talking on their cell phone (no hands-free set) and not wearing a seatbelt. A few weeks ago I was driving to a Court and a cop passed me going at least 80, talking on his cell. I'm pretty sure Supercop has passed me a couple of times going 80 mph or faster. The size and shape of his head and body are somewhat distinctive and he can be recognized from behind because of this. Plus I see him at the Court when I get there.

This doesn't make him a bad guy, but it always bothers me a little that they'll write tickets to people and then do the same thing themselves. Then again, the more speeding tickets they write, the more clients we get at our law firm.
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