*** Author’s Note: Hi everyone, I have a little story to share with you. It’s about something that happened to me and I don’t want to make a big deal out of it or prolong it into an event of any kind. But I felt the need to share it with you and educate you about why harassment is NOT okay. You can find suggestions/links/resources towards the end of this post.
I hope you find this post educational and do not take it as a form of “cop bashing,” for I assure you it is anything but that.***
On Saturday night, I was driving home by myself after I had spent the afternoon and early evening down the street watching the Florida Gators game with a few friends.
Traveling in the slow/right lane, I went under the overpass of the 826 highway and I passed a shopping plaza on the right hand side of 67th Avenue that contained a Marathon Gas Station.
The light was green and it was just another semi-busy evening in my neighbourhood. As I approached the intersection, ready to pass the gas station, driving at about 25 mph (as my cousin and friends tell me, “like an old woman”) a police officer had his vehicle on the adjacent street of the intersection.
The thing is, when you reach to that intersection and cross it, the right lane becomes the second-to-right-lane because a merging lane appears. A police officer, in a marked Miami-Dade country vehicle was trying to make a right turn and had his vehicle into the entire right/merging lane and some of it into my lane.
Considering my light was green and that there was incoming traffic on my left-hand side, I still made the effort to pause.
I looked at him, he looked at me and I made the decision to keep going. The police vehicle then ended up behind me.
Directly past this light is another traffic light that was red so I stopped. This light is on another intersection that allows cars to turn to the rightÂ into a housing complex called The Moors.
Once the light turned green, I went. At this point the police officer had been behind me just like any other car for about two to three minutes.
Less than four blocks from my house and about 15 seconds after the traffic light in front of The Moors, I was stopped by the Miami-Dade police officer.
I handed him my license and asked what I did wrong.
“I’ll tell you in a second,” he said.
I sat there and waited patiently.
“You didn’t see me there? You didn’t know I had the right of way?” he said finally.
He had the right of way to make a right hand turn, with his sirens off, into a green light that had ongoing traffic passing through it?
Slightly confused and flabbergasted I asked, “I’m confused. What do you mean?”
“Over there by the gas station,” he continued. “You didn’t see my car? I saw you look at me.”
I couldn’t believe the audacity of this man.
“I did see you, I looked at you, but your car was out into my lane and my light was green, I didn’t know if you were coming or going — I did pause,” I said.
“I knew you would have crashed into me if I had gone, you should have let me pass,” he said.
“There were incoming cars on the left–” I didn’t actually get to finish this sentence. And I knew if I tried too it would be considered ‘arguing with a cop’ or something and I would get into more trouble. So I just let him talk.
“Yea, and then you didn’t stop when I put my lights on,” he chided, referring to him putting his sirens on after the traffic light by The Moors.
“I didn’t know you wanted to stop me,” I said. “I’ve never been pulled over before for anything, you can check my license it’s completely clean, so I moved over to the center lane because I thought you wanted me to let you pass.”
He looked at me speechless.
“Well, now you know. Why didn’t you stop or pull over into The Moors?” he asked.
Now I was getting angry, but obviously couldn’t show it.
“Because my dad always told me to pull over in a well lit area, and — well — we are in the middle of a busy street, this is where I stopped,” I said.
I don’t think he was expecting that answer because he paused for a moment, then laughed arrogantly.
“I understand what your dad meant,” he said. “But it’s really hard for the ‘bad guys’ to get a car [he pointed to his car] like that one. That rule only applies to unmarked vehicles.” [<--- me thinking = !?!?!]
He gave me back my license and said he would give me a verbal warning. I said thanks, and went along my way to my house less than four blocks away.
Miami-Dade County Police Department, it is NOT acceptable for me to be harassed in my neighbourhood that I’ve lived in for the past 20 years of my 24 on this planet because one of your officers needed his ego stroked.
I want so badly to report this officer for harassing me for doing nothing wrong. But I can’t. That’s the sad part of my story.
So you must forgive if I don’t remember his name or was unable to get a good look at his badge.
I was alone, in my car, on my street at night.
All I wanted to do was go home and tell my father what happened to me.
And as small of an incident as mine was, it’sÂ just another prime example of the jerks that my city employs. My dad and mom’s taxes go to pay this guy’s salary?
Are you kidding me?
I don’t care that this guy was harmless in the end and I got a verbal warning.
What if he wasn’t?
What if he was a real creep who saw that I was alone and tried to do something to me like rape? Well, now you know why I walk with pepper spray in my purse. Now you know why I stopped in the middle of a busy street.
What if he didn’t give me a verbal warning and I had to go to court to fight my case? Guess what? I don’t think I would have won because the system in my city doesn’t work like that. The 5 p.m. news is witness enough to that. Let’s not even talk about the $200+ in court fees just to bring it to a judge.
But I’m okay and that’s what’s important.
HARASSMENT IS WRONG.
I told the police officer that I didn’t pull over in the vacant, unlit housing community entrance of The Moors because my dad always told me to pull over in a well lit area.
This officer then had the audacity to say that he knows the reason my father told me that, but the street I chose to stop on is apparently very well lit and that it’s very hard for a ‘bad guy’ to get an official police vehicle (LIES!) and that that rule only applies to unmarked vehicles.
- You are a stranger, and regardless of your uniform, I do not know you.
- I am girl, traveling in my car by myself and it’s dark outside.
- I will not, under any circumstances, pull over to any vacant, not well lit site at anytime and put my personal safety in jeopardy.
- I don’t care who you are. As as human being and as a woman, that is my right.
We should trust those we empower to protect us.
It is of the utmost importance that that trust is not broken, for without it, where would leave all of us?
In chaos. That’s where.
Therefore, we need to work and address this problem rather than just being scared and, worst of all, ignoring it.
I have some suggestions for other ladies who may be caught in a similar situation or in a worse one in the future:-
- Get a badge number.
- If you can’t get a badge number look for the officer’s name on their shirt. It’s suppose to be there.
- Immediately after you leave, call the police station or call 911 (I know it’s only for emergencies). Tell them where you are (cops can be traced to their current location) and who stopped you (“Officer [insert name here]).
- Tell them why and that you want to file a complaint.
That’s what I wanted to do. But I was too out of my wits to even look anywhere but at his eyes. Then again, of course, I was in the middle of the street too.
If you’re even in a terrible situation (and I pray that you aren’t):-
- Tell the officer nicely that you want to follow him, or allow him to follow you to the police station.
- Immediately whip out your cellphone and call someone you know and trust, “I must call my husband/father/brother to let them know I’ve been stopped…”
- Make sure you door is locked.
- If you feel that you are in danger, forget about getting your license back, put your foot on the gas pedal, drive to the nearest, well lit, safe place, business etc. Take out your cell phone and call 911. Or ask to use a phone and call 911. Tell them where you are, what just happened to you, that person XYZ has your license and that you are extremely uncomfortable and scared.
- If you feel uncomfortable doing this, because ‘running’ from an officer gives them the right to restrain you, and they CAN hurt you. Whip out that cell phone and make a call.
- We are in an age of technological advances. You have no excuse not to have one.
No one will fault you. Your number one priority in this life is your safety.
Helium.com’s article on “Why You Should Report Bad Cops”
“However, any profession can contain its bad apples and police work is no exception. As a pastor once said, when cops are good they are really good, and when they are bad, they become really bad. What I have come to realize is that sick ones definitely bank on the thought that you are afraid of them”…
Another reason you should report bad cops is what I call “future ramifications:” imagine what might happen to people down the road if one of the bad cops is allowed to go on unrestrained…harassing more people for the sheer joy and power of it? …
this powerful fact: if we allow harassing cops to stay in position, then we subject all the good ones to their contaminating behavior, and I would much rather have the good ones know we support and respect them, even if they have that unique, sequestered culture that sometimes makes us feel isolated from them as a unit…
End Stalking in America has this article on “How to File a Police Report”
Askville.com Powered by Amazon.com had this interesting question posted with a few answers from police officers and everyday citizens, “Do you report a bad cop, even if you know the repercussions would be horrible everytime you got into your car?”
This is an extreme and eye-opening page written by a Human Rights Abuse Activist called “Stop Police Abuse”
LA Times Article by Joseph McNamara “America’s Plague of Bad Cops”
About.com has this article on Harassment and filing complaints here
This is another crazy read on NBC Chicago’s website “Police Board Rarely Disciplines Cops”