I noticed the oddly parked black and white with its driver staring right at me. I looked down at my speedometer and immediately wondered what the speed limit was. I watched them cross the lanes of traffic and accelerate, rapidly growing in my rearview mirror. I watched as they divided their attention between the speed of traffic, the radio, and the computer. Regardless of my experience as an officer, I have been pulled over for speeding more times than I care to count all over the United States, especially in my younger days, so this was an all too familiar series of events. I scouted the nearest safe location to pull over.
The light went on and I pulled over into an empty lot. What followed was all too familiar. The approach, stopping at the B pillar, identifying themselves, asking for my license and insurance, the reason for the stop… I let them know where my gun was and he promised he would not draw his if I did not draw mine. I handed him my license and insurance and off he went. A wreck down the road likely saved me the ticket or at least a warning.
What did not save me was my status as a cop. Why? Because I never told him. My policy has long been that I only identify myself as a cop when I am out of state. I do that because I carry my firearm and being a cop allows me to do that. It also helps quell the questions about my out-of-state tags and reasons for having a firearm. What I do not do is use my status as a cop to invoke “professional courtesy.” Why do I not do this? Because it is an abuse of power. As a cop, I know the law better than most. I know that speeding is illegal, and yet I do it often. I know that when I get stopped, I might get a ticket, for which I always pay without complaint. I do not ask to have them waived or flash my badge as an escape.
As officers, we should know the laws and the punishments more than most. We should understand that our actions have consequences and our status as a cop is not an escape. A DUI is a DUI, speeding is speeding, etc. As Sir Robert Peel long stated, officers serve at the behest of the people. Our behavior should not be excused while we punish the same behavior of others. Hypocrisy should never be the way. As officers, we should follow a line from the Ranger Creed, “Set the example for others to follow.”
Author’s Note: As a fellow lead footer, this is why I write speeding tickets only in extreme and dangerous circumstances. I actually had so many speeding tickets before I was hired, I was almost rejected.
Jake Smith is a law enforcement officer and former Army Ranger with four deployments to Afghanistan.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.