Letters to the Editor

From the issue of August 31, 2000

Gregory Yocum
Miami Beach

My Job Description: Law Enforcer
That means everything from expired tag to murder one:
I wonder, was it Tristram Korten's great article or was it just the love for a police officer like William Oertwig, Jr., who doesn't write traffic tickets, that has generated so many letters? Everybody hates cops when they are getting a ticket. But what do you think police officers are hired to do? They are hired to do a job. If for whatever reason we decide we do not want to do the job we are being paid to do, I don't see how we can expect to avoid flak for that.

For a short while I quit writing tickets after the department I work for instituted a policy of not chasing traffic offenders. I felt this resulted in tickets being issued to only those drivers who did not run from police. But I realized I still had a duty. Police officers are law-enforcement officers. That does not mean just the laws I feel like enforcing. Part of my job was to enforce traffic laws.

Contrary to Randy Nobles's opinion, I know that traffic tickets act as a deterrent. More than 100 people are killed every day on the nation's highways. Imagine what that number would be if all police officers decided they would no longer write tickets. I know some of you might think it would be heaven, but try to imagine what the roads would be like if everyone drove with nothing to motivate them but their own sense of decency.

I got a laugh out of Randy Nobles's letter. I would like to ensure him that police officers are not in cahoots with the insurance industry. Most of us in Miami-Dade County pay so much for insurance because of the dismal accident record we have racked up for ourselves. If you pay more for your insurance because of your tickets, maybe you should examine your driving habits.

And as for Nobles's claim that radar speeding tickets constitute entrapment, let's see now: The speed limit is posted, your car has a reasonably accurate speedometer, and your own foot is on the gas pedal. I am having a hard time seeing how the officer is coercing you into speeding. All he is doing is catching you at it.

Yes, there are plenty of other things for police officers to deal with besides traffic enforcement. We have plenty of murders, robberies, rapes, burglaries, auto thefts, drug dealers -- the list goes on. But I assure you, for police officers to ignore enforcement of the traffic laws -- the laws dealing with the number-one killer of Americans -- would be a huge disservice to everyone. And guess what? Traffic stops often result in the apprehension of those other criminals.

Glen Baker

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