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The Privileged Many: "Professional Courtesy" Exposed

Posted on April 10th, 2008 in , , | 16 Comments

The Privileged Many: "Professional Courtesy" Exposed
By Jim Baxter, NMA President

Jennifer Muir of the Orange County Register did a little digging at the California DMV and found that thousands of state employees have special license plates that are not traceable for enforcement purposes. The recipients are primarily involved with enforcement activities, although for many that’s a stretch. The rationalization is that they need untraceable plates to protect themselves from vengeful criminals.

As it turns out the “confidential plates” also protect the holders from traffic tickets, parking fines, road tolls, and other unpleasantries of life. They are just one more example of our two tiered society where the farmers, clerks, merchants, mechanics and homemakers are held to the letter of the law while the police, courthouse residents, and elected officials have “professional courtesy.”

Our system was based on the ideal that everyone is to be held to the same standard, be equally responsible for our actions and that there not be an anointed elite with privileged status. Granted, this is an “ideal” and ideals are something we strive for knowing that perfection is usually not achievable.

Still, when a glaring and pregnant contradiction to the ideal is so apparent and malignant, as is “professional courtesy,” why is it so readily ignored?

Jennifer Muir’s exposé uncovered a program that has existed for three decades and was certainly obvious to our “representatives,“ those in positions of power. Of course they too were attracted to confidential license plates.

For as long as traffic laws have been enforced there has been professional courtesy among police officers. Cops don’t give tickets to other cops. Why is that? If these laws have merit and it’s to everyone’s benefit that these laws be obeyed why aren’t the enforcers held accountable?

Cops don’t let other cops rob, kidnap, or murder — what’s up with traffic laws? Could it be that many of these laws are not necessary, constructive, or fair, and the police inherently know this? Is it that many of these laws and their enforcement are more about making a buck for the sponsoring governments than they are about public safety?

Perhaps the ultimate solution to professional courtesy is to trim back the laws to those the cops will enforce against other cops and see how that works out.

Image Credit: IntangibleArts


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16 Responses to “The Privileged Many: "Professional Courtesy" Exposed”

  1. Donald I. says:

    I have seen this professional courtesy among police officers first hand. I was a passenger in a police officers personal car; while on vacation in 2004 or 5. The off duty officer was doing 70ish on a 45mph road, I know, I was getting a bit scared, not all the time but more times than not, on a straight part of the road with a small curve up the road a piece, was a police office with radar. We went pass him at 65 mph or so. Hmmmmm, I said to the driver, your busted. He said, “watch this”, as the officer approached the car, He pulled his wallet with badge enclosed and flipped it open as the cop came to the window. The officer said, ” I knew it, my best bust and it is a cop. Slow down and be safe” That was it, over, nothing more. Done. I looked at him in amazement and he said, “if you ever get busted for speeding, have them call me, before they write the ticket and I can get it taken care of”. Then he gave me his work cell number. I have never taken him up on that. I think if you break the law and are caught, you should get what the law says you should.

    • Phil Mckrackin says:

      I can’t believe you are narcassistic enough to think that readers of this site would believe such an obviously fabricated story. Police officers don’t write citations to every speeder they catch so why would you feel that some of the ones they do write should be other police officers. The courtesy only extends so far and is not a get out of jail card or get out of the ticket card simply based on the fact that he is a police officer, as your story implies. Police officers will give a professional courtesy to other police officers but they do not however, like to extend this courtesy to officers who blatently break the law and use thier status as a police officer to get away with it. extending the courtesy to these types of officers gives all police officers a bad name. The reason I know your story is fabricated is because 65mph in a 45mph zone would not be give such a quick courtesy. The patrol officer would have taken the officers ID and badge back to his patrol car with him or at least the license and registration along with information contained on the speeding officer’s ID and badge unless he recognized him as an area police officer in which case he wouldn’t have needed to see the officer’s badge. Also the patrol officer wouldn’t say “I knew it, my best bust and it is a cop.” the word “bust” is not used by police officers, that is a hollywood rendition of what a cop would say. If the officer you were with acted in such an entitled way the patrol officer would have checked to see if the badge was stolen, which sets off all sorts of alerts to the department where the officer you were with works. The scenario as you have embelished it would never happen so readers must now wonder wy you would need to lie about such a thing. If the officer you were with actually gave you his cell number he would not tell you to have the officer who pulled you over call him before the ticket is written. That is an unrealistic embelishment. Why do you NMA guys fabricate such unrealistic stories and then expect that the readers here are too dumb to discern that it is a fabrication. You have nothing better to do than make up stories about the practices and procedures of patrol officers?

  2. Ted says:

    Like it not the Police are a privileged group and if you don’t like it prepare to be imprisoned after the coup.

  3. Brian says:

    Warren,

    By that argument, Bartenders should be immune from DUI charges, computer programmers should be immune from hacking charges, and bankers should be allowed to mug people — after all, they’re used to people handing them money at work!

    Stupid argument. Try again.

  4. Warren says:

    Look folks,I am not a cop or anything like that, but I have to say Give the cops a break! Put yourself in their position. They have a thankless job, not to mention inherently dangerous. Lets say you worked 10-12hrs a day, after a few years on the job, you would be more likely to say, run a red light or make an illegal turn or something. They have to rush, not just have to, they are expected to be their when there is a problem within a heartbeat, and they try. They get so used to trying during all thos working days, they sometimes forget and bring a little of that into their personal life. I think it should be expected that they will do this. and yes, because of their job, I would say a little leeway should be given. Now We are just reffering to traffic type things. I don’t think anyone here is saying they get away with murder. When they do make the bigger mistakes like drunk driving, I think they should have the same consequences as anyone else. They should after all, know better!

  5. There is no such thing as “professional courtesy” in this case. If someone singles out a group of people and decides not to enforce the laws or enforce the laws on a particular class of people, it is called discrimination. It is illegal and there are many websites where the officers brag about giving special rights to their co-workers. Let’s start labeling it as it is an not calling it professional courtesy . . . it is discrimination.

  6. Dan says:

    "Professional Courtesy" is the new corruption.

    Actually, there's a decent argument to be made to get your ticket dismissed because the laws aren't being enforced equally, in accordance with the "equal protection" clause of the 14th Amendment.

  7. JOE says:

    Here’s a good local debate about such; read the comments after the article; “Woman killed in accident with trooper identified” ;http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectID=11&articleID=071201_1__Awoma30052

  8. JOE says:

    “Professional Courtesy” has got to go. It erodes the confidence of the driving public in our justice system, the sense of fairness. As I have said before, law enforcement is like no other job. We tolerate a certain number of bad people in most jobs, we can’t in law enforcement. Professional Courtesy rendered in most jobs hurts nobodies reputation or sense of fairness, it does in law enforcement. One of the bedrock principals in this country is that no one is above the law. I don’t see an exclusion in there for law enforcement, a public official or a member of some cops family.

  9. lamac66 says:

    Well,this article wasn’t addressing egregious crimes.Of course you don’t get the professional courtesy on murder…although some would disagree.

    The article I think was addressing traffic laws. Professional courtesy does exist in that regard.

  10. TOM says:

    A PS: I WAS EVEN TOLD IT WOULD BE ILLEGAL FOR ME TO “USE” IT AS I WOULD BE IMPERSONATING AN OCCIFUR.

  11. TOM says:

    I HAVE OVER 50 PHOTOS OF CARS WITH A FRONT LICENCE PLATE OR A WINDOD STICKER THAT IS BLACK WITH A THIN BLUE LINE ON THEM. DO YOU THINK IT’S A COURTESY CARD? DUH!!! COPS HAVE TOLD ME IT IS, AND THEY EVEN MAKE “TARGETS” OUT OF THEIR FAMILY CARS BY PUTTING THEM THERE. I SPOKE WITH MY LOCAL CHIEF, AND HE AGREED SAYING MOST OF THE CARES ARE ON “YOUNGER” OFFICERS, AND THEY ARE “PRETTY STUPID”!!!I AM GOING TO SEND THE PHOTOS TO ERIC.

  12. Carl Brutananadilewski says:

    Hook me up with one of those sweet plates!

    And while we’re at it, to level the playing field we should suspend all traffic laws; after all, they are an oppression of our freedoms! Speed limits, having to be sober when driving, and having to be able to see properly are all steps towards a dictatorship.

    Driving the speed limit means the terrorists have won!

  13. GuardingTheGuards says:

    Denying won’t help you, Jon and One Eyed.

    We know what you are up to.

  14. One Eyed says:

    I agree Jon, they don’t read the news very much.

    I am a law enforcement officer and last year I arrested an off duty police officer for DUI. It’s our job.

  15. Jon says:

    “Cops don’t let other cops rob, kidnap, or murder”

    Don’t read the news very much huh?

    My area a trooper just got caught stealing $900.00 from a motorist during a traffic stop. He was caught only because the motorist went to the AG not other cops.

    A cop out west recently fell asleep at the wheel and killed two cyclists and his fellow cops ensured the investigation was sufficiently botched as to have no change in criminal court.

    Another was in the news last Nov(?) for cuffing an innocent bystander and keeping him locked in a police car for several hours; again sufficiently covered up by the other fine examples in the department so as not to have any charges leveled.




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