questionswhat traffic laws do the cops have to follow?


In theory, they're bound by the same laws as the rest of us. In practice, cops can do whatever they want, whenever they want, to whomever they want. It's part of what draws d-bags to the job.


They don't have to follow any laws if nobody will enforce them on them.

I once saw a cop speeding, while on a cell phone, years ago. I called the police station and told them what I saw. They were pretty quick to defend them. "They could have been on an emergency call", they said.. to which I replied "Then they should have their lights on, at a minimum, shouldn't they?" ... "They may have been on a call where they would need to get there quickly, but without alerting the suspects".. I think that's when I sighed, and just figured they don't care. A few weeks later, in a town not far away, a cop.. speeding, and not on a call, smashed his cruiser into a citizens car. He was at fault, but the taxpayer paid for it.

It really annoys me.


I used to pass by a Dunkin' Donuts on my way to work. There was a light at the intersection in front of it. I can't count the number of times I saw a police car pull up to the red light, turn on it's flashing lights to cross the intersection, then turn them off to pull into that Dunkin' Donuts. It was widely known (at least among City employees) that cops ate and drank free at that store, and the parking lot was always half full of police cars. I wondered if they actually saved any money preventing the occasional robbery by feeding half the police force for free. There are plenty of diligent, hard working, brave police officers out there. But there are also unfortunately plenty of others that flaunt their disrespect for the law and the citizens they are supposed to "serve and protect".


I agree with @moondrake because I knew a cop once who was a great person and would tell me both the bad and the good about his job and coworkers. He himself had a big issue with speeding and seemed to get pulled over once a month but never got a ticket because of his badge. Everyone has some sort of perk at their job and sometimes it might not be fair to us or others. But in the end it never bothered me once I realized how often he was in real danger of being hurt when he was just trying to uphold the law and protect regular citizens.


@jsoko: Wow, that lady is my hero. Because you know she caught crap for arresting him. A friend of mine's cousin was a cop and he pulled over a high ranking officer for DUI and lost a promotion and ended up taking early retirement because of the amount of crap he was getting for arresting a drunk driver.


@moondrake: That is another reason why our country is going down the crapper... You get in trouble for doing the right and ethical thing!

An officer in my township, quite a few years ago, ran a red light and crashed into another car. One girl died, the other two seriously injured, and the mom seriously injured as well. All because he was running late. I believe he simply lost his job, nothing more. Yet, if anyone else did it, they would get hard jail time! I have zero respect for cops like that.

Yet, I have gotten pulled over by true officers of the law, and have the most respect for them.


Yeah, basically what @rprebel said. Who's going to stop them? Their coworkers?


I am curious if there is an app for my phone that will measure the speed I am driving, and store video of my driving habits etc.
So, for example, I attach my phone to the inside of my windshield, and if I got pulled over for speeding, or rolling a stop sign, I have evidence that I did not. Also, if I see a police officer speeding by me, I have it on video.
Here in Ohio, a Police Officer does not even have to use electronic devices to measure speed. Their word is enough.


@coconutextreme: But he is more likely to be killed because of his driving than been murdered by a criminal.


@coconutextreme: Yes but he puts those citizens and himself in danger when he makes a habit of speeding. He would lecture and fine anyone else he pulled over about reckless driving and the dangers of speeding. I don't think anyone should be above the law unless there is an actual emergency at hand.


Cops aren't above the law... but some sure act like it!

Best cop on cop video:


@atd15: There is. I know that a lot of the GPS apps for android will tell you the speed you are traveling, and keep it in a log. Now a video recording option too? None I know of, but camcorders have time stamps, so just present the time stamped video along with the app log, and you have all relevant info available. Maybe Torque has some options in the newer versions to display drving habits in the way you want.


@xavoc: Are you joking... I'm sure she was communicating with a dispatcher. Most police have to when they are attempting to pull someone over, that is how backup knows where the officer is and the state of the interaction between the suspect. To me it sounds like you think officers should not go over 80 mph to catch a suspect, and that they should just slow down and then the suspect will just magically give up.

Yes, accidents happen in high speed pursuits, but are you blaming the officers for chasing?


@xavoc: You are avoiding my point by referring to random isolated incidents. Again, are you saying officers shouldn't go above 80 mph in a chase with a suspect going 120? Are you assuming that the suspect will magically give up?


I should've yelled at this cop who was texting and driving... no fair.


@moondrake: The general idea isn't that it prevents a store robbery, it's that it increases the frequency of police presence in the area.

In most places emergency vehicles are considered "Speed Exempt", which means that technically they are not required to run their lights to speed, but if they are doing that usually they are required to call in a code about it via radio.

I've met a lot of good cops, and a lot of bad cops, but very few of either are good/lawful drivers.


@jsoko: The problem w/ the Sheriffs action in your video is that engaging in a high-speed chase can actually cause injuries/fatalities.

I'm not saying she was wrong, just that in many cases such chases are waved off once they have identifying information.

EG: Dispatch, can you call MDPD and ask them which officer is currently driving police vehicle 3314 with the license plat of FSTBACN? Great, now can you confirm he is code and authorized to speed at this time? No? Now ask them to call/page the officer asking them to pull over and provide their location so that we can arrest them. Yes, I have them on video.


@jsoko: Statistically 1/3 of all deaths in high-speed chases are bystanders actually. It's not like they didn't have proof of the vehicle, and that MDPD couldn't be compelled to give up the officer driving the vehicle at the time.

A high speed chase that is weaving through even moderate traffic is actually pretty dangerous. Obviously the arresting officer WAS in contact with her dispatch, as is evident on the audio of the footage.

I was simply pointing out that she could have handled that specific situation in a way that de-escalated situation. Which is pretty much the #1 thing cops fail to do repeatedly.

15 seconds, transient Native American woodcarver shot dead in Seattle. Officer claims he had a knife open in his hand. The folding lock-back blade was found and photographed at the scene...closed. The guy wasn't threatening anyone, he was walking along with a closed knife in one hand, and a piece of wood in the other.


@jsoko: The offender is likely to drive faster and more recklessly if they are being chased. Also, the officer who disengages cuts the number of speeding cars involved in half. Instantaneous communication allows police to track the perp and arrest him when he exits the vehicle, or to clear the road and lay down tire puncturers. At worst, they lose him and fail to make the arrest, but also put fewer lives in danger, including the officer's. Most chases are not after a serial killer. In our town a store called to report a woman shoplifting diapers. She had just gotten in her car when the officer arrived, and a high speed chase commenced at speeds over 120mph with the woman's two small children in the car, which the officer knew and reported. He still persisted in chasing the car and she finally stopped and was arrested, among other things. for child endangerment. To me, the cop was equally guilty of endangering those children by continuing to chase her knowing they were in the car.


Our police (and military) can only be accountable to the extent that they enforce themselves. Which is odd and disturbing. How can you call it "professional courtesy" when in the act of providing this "courtesy" they have to betray the essence of their profession?

Who watches the watchmen?

That said, not all cops abuse this privilege, and not all cops turn a blind eye. But enough do to concern me. (And no, I don't mean enforcing minor traffic infractions, like driving 5 over.)


@jsoko: It was a police officer, in a police car.

I don't really know what the magical speed number is in regards to catching a someone vs identifying that the road conditions warrant a different approach.

I do know that there are quite a few municipalities that have changed their high-speed pursuit policies to help reduce injuries and fatalities.

Just in case you think my thoughts on the matter are unreasonable...


@jsoko: Basically it comes down to this...

At what point do you personally justify the death of an officer or bystander because an officer was chasing someone who ran after attempting to be pulled over for not having their seat belt on?


In my city, police officers frequently get calls that pretty much require them to travel and arrive quietly without sirens. More critical calls require lights and sirens both. I used to participate in civilian ride-alongs, and it was not unusual for us to haul off on an assigned call only to get a cancel notice midway to the destination; usually another officer had been able to get their quickly and did not need us for backup.

On the other hand, officers are also expected to obey all the usual traffic laws unless running with [at least] their flashing lights on.


@atd15: You just haven't been to Florida then!!


@kmeltzer: The practice of answering a police call without lights and sirens is legitimately used in many jurisdictions; I've ridden with officers on many of those calls.


@xavoc: A seat belt violation is completely different from a possible stolen police car traveling in excess of 120 mph not knowing that they are being pulled over. Most people that run are hiding something, like a stolen car for instance. If it was simply a seat belt violation, the suspect should pull over (like every suspect should) and take the $XX ticket and go on. There is no reason to run, if you have nothing to hide. Hence why officers pursue.


in new york they have to follow every single regulation unless there's an emergency. If there is an emergency they are required to have at least their lights on, and lights + siren if there's pedestrian and vehicle traffic.

Reality: rules mean nothing if they aren't enforced. If you see a really blatant misuse of authority try to catch the car number, and phone it in to the civilian review board...


@xavoc: In most states not wearing a seat belt is not a legal primary reason for a traffic stop. Got any other anecdotes?


@magic cave: Currently 21 out of 50 states list it as a primary actually

So, while your statement of "Most" is factually accurate, seat belt enforcement is trending nationally towards primary alongside failure to use a hands-free device.

In one of the incidents I linked above someone ran after the officer attempted to pull them over for failure to use a hands-free device. The chase ended in a bystander fatality.


@jsoko: What difference does it make if it's a police car or a prius?

How does that justify adding a 2nd (or more in many cases) speeding vehicle on a busy road at night?


@magic cave: And I've also been on several ride-alongs as a civilian. Thus why I stated above that it's possible to speed without using lights/siren, but it requires a radio call to be legal.

The Seattle/Puget sound has a bit of an issue at the moment. In the past couple of years we've had a couple of unjustified officer shootings, including one recently where they shot a mentally ill man in his home in front of his parents, then kept his parents from attempting to render aid/talk him down.

The police chief then went on record stating that the gentleman attacked the officers, and was shot in the driveway of the home. Rather than, he was shot in his bedroom by police.

On the flip side of the coin we had one newly released convict execute 4 officers in a coffee shop.


@magic cave: Actually, I linked outdated information

We're up to 32 states + most American territories. So, actually yes. In MOST states, it is a primary offense.


@xavoc: If you have one speeding vehicle on the road... the one following it with light and sirens won't add that much more danger to the situation. I'd rather have the suspect, running for a reason, off the road in the safest way. If the safest way is to have one officer following and radioing others to close in, I'm ok with that.

Again, are you saying officers shouldn't go above 80 mph in a chase with a suspect going 120? Are you assuming that the suspect will magically give up?


@jsoko: Here is where the FBI states statistics involved.

Exactly what information are you basing your thoughts upon? Cites?

By initiating pursuit you add a 2nd high-speed vehicle to the equation, lights-or-no, and the pursued tend to increase their speed while being chased, which actually increases the likelihood of a crash and/or fatality.

You keep asking the same question, where I said I don't know when it becomes acceptable. The longer pursuit occurs, the more desperate the pursued becomes, and the more risks they take.


@xavoc: Did you even read the conclusion of your link???
"While more research needs to be conducted on the actions of fleeing suspects after a pursuit has been terminated...It is important to consider that pursuit policies are based on the belief that fleeing suspects will slow down at some point after a pursuit is terminated... Of course, whether or not police officers should terminate an active attempt to apprehend a suspect is a different question that depends on what they know or have reasonable suspicion to believe that the suspect has done."


@magic cave: If it's not so important to have your lights on, it's not so important to break the law.


So you're telling me you don't speed? Not even 5 over?