A frequent question I get asked in various connotations is simply, “Do you like your job?” At a glance it’s an easy question to answer, but when put in context with when and by whom it’s asked, it can be daunting. Friends, family and people just in general chatter often ask this and they get the expected reply of, “Sure! My job can be hard, but it is also a lot of fun at times and you never know what you are going to get into from one minute to the next!” Slap a silly smile on my face and you have the poster boy for an LAPD recruiting poster.
Now take this question in the context of the 18-year-old intoxicated student on Del Playa at 1 a.m. getting a beer ticket. In addition to the job query, toss in, “Does writing this ticket make you feel good? Does it make you feel like a big man?” and the answer is no. The 12 pack of Dunkin D’s finest and a liter of cola chaser is what has been making me feel like a big man, but I don’t think that’s what they are talking about.
I understand it’s a lash out at the person writing them an expensive ticket, but I do believe it’s an honest question. Does writing you this ticket make me feel good? Do I like the fact I get to bust you and make your life a little harder? I cannot speak for every cop and how they feel. Just like everything in life, we are all different and we all have various feelings about what we do. I can only speak for myself, but do I feel good writing tickets? Do I like handing someone a piece of paper that will cost them hundreds of dollars or force them to attend a day’s worth of classes to keep their license? Do I get chills up and down my spine at the thought of taking a person’s license so they have to explore the joys of daily urban mass transit to get to and from school? I’m sure some people are convinced all of us cops just love writing tickets, but most of us don’t take pleasure from it. Even after 20 years as a cop, I still have never gotten over feeling empathy for people I arrest or write tickets to. I will still do it, but I do empathize that it sucks.
Admittedly there is the occasional, ummm, shall we say, “misunderstood” person, who has a basic disregard for anyone or thing around them and have the innate ability to talk themselves into a ticket with the extreme insistence on debating a point of law they learned from Kenny the Keg Keeper at last night’s DP rager. That person I don’t feel bad writing a ticket to.
Is it true that you don’t give a ticket to a minor if they are drunk/sick and have to go to the hospital?
Years ago, when I first started being a cop, everyone who was drunk went to jail. I recall people who could barely walk, covered in yesterday’s lunch being taken to the “drunk tank” and left to sober up before being given a ticket and sent home. Times have changed a bit. We still may play “guess the meal” on their shirt, but when we deal with someone who is intoxicated, a lot of thought goes into how they need to be helped. Being intoxicated is now looked at more and more as a medical concern. We have to look at the person and determine if they are at risk of an alcohol overdose and get them treated medically at the hospital instead of just tossing them into a jail cell for the night. Can they get a ticket still? It’s possible, but not likely. If you get taken in an ambulance, that is usually the end of our contact with you. So as a tip to the wise, if you have a friend who is really sick from drinking or drugs, don’t worry about the cops, call and get them the medical help they need.
What’s the best way to get out of a speeding ticket?
So it should go without saying, don’t speed! But if you do and get stopped, just be honest. You can try crying, “I’m on the way to the hospital,” “My dog died” or even “I’m crying because my dog died on the way to the hospital.” It may work if you are 10 months pregnant or have your severed arm in the seat next to you, but I am not a big fan of excuses. Just yesterday I had someone tell me he had to drive really fast past the elementary school because the battery in the car is going bad and it’s a stick shift. The story changed when I explained how I would have to tow the car as unsafe on a roadway based on his explanation. Dude, just be honest and I can respect that. Excuses will usually just get you the ticket. With me if you are honest, I will consider the warning.
It’s interesting to talk with people and share my view of cops and what we do. Some like us. Some hate us. Some view us as the fourth arm of the totalitarian fascist state of California, but we are still decent folks in a Nazi shiny jackboot kind of way. I don’t believe everyone should have to like us. In fact I believe it’s important to question the law, government and society as a whole. I just encourage people to look at things from a broad view before making conclusions about those we meet. We also need to do the same. If you never have thought about it, consider doing a ride-along with an officer for an evening and learn first hand about what we do and how we do it. I think you would be surprised about what you would learn about the police and how we do our business. We’re not all so bad, even if our boots are really shiny.
Sgt. Mark Signa is an officer of the UCSB Police Dept.