I was having a discussion with a mutual friend recently when the topic of speeding came up. I was asked about my take on how fast she could go before getting pulled over. Like most law enforcement questions, it’s all about the adult diapers… You know… ‘Depends?’
While the answer to how fast you are able to go depends, there is one factor that never changes.
The magical ability cop cars have to miraculously slow traffic around them.
This magical bubble can be very frustrating and reminds me of an answer I posted to a question on Quora. For the sake of my severely lacking typing skills, I am just going to cut and paste my response to the question, “Does it help to slow down after seeing a cop car?” Here was my response:
Please in the name of all that is holy do NOT slow down just because you see a cop car driving. I think I can speak for many a cop out there when I say there is nothing more frustrating than driving along in a magical bubble of slowness, because the other motorists out there are afraid to drive the speed limit.
When people go particularly slow in front of me, I personally become suspicious. What doesn’t this person want me to see? Why are they driving 5–10mph under the speed limit? Then I actually LOOK at your car. Are they worried about that taillight that’s out? While I’m back here going extra extra slow, I have plenty of time to run your plate. Do they have warrants? What’s the deal? Why aren’t they just driving lol. This is also my response when people suddenly swerve over to the side of the road and let me pass them.
The slow rolling phenomenon is particularly frustrating when a cop is actually trying to get somewhere in a hurry. I’m going to let you know a little known secret. Law enforcement has rules…or guidelines about when we can and can’t respond somewhere with our lights and sirens on. Just because we don’t have them on doesn’t mean we don’t desperately need to get somewhere.
Let me give you an example: I’m tootling along in my patrol car when another officer announces he’s on a traffic stop. I’m say…20 minutes away with normal driving. Which is not unheard of at all. That’s actually almost close for my department. After a minute the officer asks for a second unit. Dispatch will ask if he needs it routine or priority,meaning full lights and sirens or driving normally obeying all traffic laws. As a cop you ask for priority backup only when you are actively getting your ass kicked or have one at gunpoint. So he says routine, but you hear in his voice that while he may NOT be in a fight right that second, he thinks it’s likely he will be any minute. But… he said routine, so unless I can justify why I believe otherwise, routine it is. That doesn’t mean I don’t have to get there ASAP. So sometimes as a cop you speed a bit. It isn’t high enough priority to turn on the lights, but you need to hurry the hell up.
We also do this for things like verbal domestics or disturbances. When you have some big ape in your face screaming that he’s going to kick your ass because you cut him off in traffic, we will NOT be coming lights and sirens. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to get there in a hurry though. Just food for thought the next time some cop blows past you without any lights or sirens on and you grumble about all the “bad apples” out there who think they’re above the law 🙂
So remember… Next time you see a patrol car… Please just DRIVE. The officer will greatly appreciate it and he just may be trying to get somewhere important.
Also published on Medium.