Sunday, September 04, 2005

Kings of Arrogance and Traffic Tickets


Call Troop C Connecticut State Police, Tolland, CT, to report teens drinking and fighting 24 hours a day, a man shooting up heroin in your back yard in front of kids, or for just about any downtown criminal complaint and you might just expect rudeness, excuses for lack of service, and threats of arrests and worse if you make complaints regarding their lack of manners and refusal to protect and serve certain segments of the population based on one's race, economic status, profession, and whether you live downtown or the suburbs.

Prey For The Radar Gun
Handful Of Speed Traps Snare Thousands Each Year, And Also Bring In Millions
September 4, 2005 By TRACY GORDON FOX, And STEPHEN BUSEMEYER Hartford Courant Staff Writers

UNION -- Along a straight, 6-mile stretch of I-84 near the Massachusetts border, Trooper Christopher Sharland aimed his laser gun at oncoming traffic. In less than 30 seconds, a lead-footed driver came into range.Sharland targeted the bright-red Ford Mustang he saw barreling down the center lane, passing a tractor-trailer and an SUV.

"Here we go, 95 mph on the red Mustang," he said, throwing his cruiser into gear on a recent afternoon.

A few minutes later, 18-year-old Holly Hansen, a hairdresser from Southbridge, Mass., sat at the side of the road pleading her case.

"I'm late," she said. "My grandmother is wicked sick, and I've got to get down there."

Sharland was not moved. He pointed out that he was giving her a break by not taking her to jail for reckless driving for going more than 85 mph. She continued on to Maryland with a $420 fine.

Out-of-state drivers, such as Hansen, accounted for almost half of the uncontested speeding tickets issued by state troopers between Jan. 1, 2000, and the end of July 2005. In all, those tickets contributed more than $30 million to state coffers.

And tiny Union, population 735, is by far the most lucrative hunting ground for troopers. Of all the speeding tickets issued by state troopers during those five years, more were handed out along I-84 between the Route 89 overpass and the Massachusetts border than anywhere else in Connecticut. Bridgeport was second, with 10,660 uncontested tickets, followed by Westport, with 9,633.

Drivers from Massachusetts paid more in fines from no-contest pleas on speeding tickets received in Union than drivers from Connecticut, or any other state, according to records from the state's Centralized Infractions Bureau.

But why is Union the hot spot? Why not communities with larger sections of more congested highways, such as Stamford or Hartford?

"The funny thing is, a long straight section of roadway promotes safety, but it also has the counter-effect of promoting speeds that are unreasonable," said Lt. Alaric Fox, who commands Troop C in Tolland, responsible for I-84 from Vernon to the Massachusetts line.

Drivers fly along the smooth, six-lane portion of highway that leads to or from the Massachusetts Turnpike, lulled by the wide, grassy shoulders on both sides and visibility of a half-mile or more. Less traffic congestion invites drivers to pick up speed.

On average, motorists who pleaded no-contest to speeding on I-84 in Union since 2000 were cited for traveling 17 mph over the 65 mph speed limit, according to records on which the driver's speed was noted. The 65 mph speed limit went into effect in October 1998.

But often, drivers go even further over the limit, state troopers say.

"I cruise down the road at 74 or 75, and I come across somebody doing 95," Fox said. "It certainly is an area where the speed is typically above the norm."

Cars regularly exceed 100 mph on the stretch. A few weeks ago, Sharland caught a sports car doing 122 mph. On several days last week, troopers had their pick of drivers going 80 mph or more.

David Wattie, a truck driver from Harrisburg, Pa., said he and most other truckers know about the straight stretch of I-84 through Union. They warn each other on the CB radio.

"You know to slow down when you come through here," he said.

Municipal police departments give out fewer uncontested speeding tickets largely because they don't cover highways. Many smaller towns don't even have their own police, relying on state troopers for their service.

Among the local police departments, those in Fairfield County account for the majority of uncontested speeding tickets, although West Hartford police top the list in central Connecticut and rank in the top three towns statewide.

"We have more complaints about traffic than we do about crime," West Hartford Police Chief James Strillacci said, explaining why his department focuses on motor vehicle violations.

"Speeding tends to exacerbate accidents."Accidents caused by speeding and other unsafe driving are the focus of state police this Labor Day weekend, with troopers out in force in Union and on every other major road across the state.

Although severe accidents are less frequent on I-84 through Union because it is not as congested as other highways, crashes there occur at such high speeds that they often are fatal.

"They are putting people's lives at risk," said Lt. David Aflalo, who commands the 58 troopers in the department's traffic services.

"We have an obligation to remove those people from the road."

If it's easy to speed along this stretch, it's just as easy to be caught.

Troopers have perfect visibility, with plenty of places to hide, allowing them to aim a laser gun and clock a vehicle nearly a half-mile away. By the time the driver sees the police cruiser, it's too late.

State police from the Tolland barracks and from the traffic services unit monitor the highway in traditional cruisers as well as in undercover cars that blend with traffic.

"In a cruiser, they'd spot us a mile away," said Trooper Brian Becker, who drives an unmarked Chevrolet Impala.

People tailgate him, pass him, cut him off. They don't realize he's a trooper until he activates the red-and-blue strobe lights.

He has watched cars pass a police cruiser on the highway, slow down for a couple of miles, and then speed up. That's when he stops them.

One trooper has made the fish-in-a-barrel game his specialty. Trooper Scott Prouty has been behind more uncontested speeding tickets than any other trooper in the state. Since 2000, 8,200 speeding tickets with his name on them were paid without a court challenge, totaling $2.1 million in fines. His closest competitor is responsible for only 5,100 and $1.2 million in no-contest pleas.

"He is very active," Aflalo said.

"He is in a specialty vehicle that allows him to identify more violators, particularly the more egregious ones."

State police say they do not target cars from out of state. Often, they say, when they are using radar or laser guns they cannot read the license plates of the cars they are tracking.

"The state of origin of a vehicle has no bearing at all on what vehicles we stop or are cited," Aflalo said.

Once they stop cars, however, the troopers have a wide range of discretion, from a verbal warning to a custodial arrest if the charge is reckless driving, Aflalo said.

Troopers often cite the drivers for traveling at a lower speed than what the laser gun indicated, to give them a break. If a trooper writes a ticket for 85 mph when a driver was clocked at 87, the driver can pay the fine without going to court, for example.

"It is never helpful to be rude or belligerent with a trooper," Aflalo said.

"Attitude," Sharland said, "goes a long way."

A discussion of this story with Courant Staff Writer Tracy Gordon Fox is scheduled to be shown on New England Cable News each hour Tuesday between 9 a.m. and noon.

* * * *

Abolish the Connecticut State Police

An open letter I sent to Connecticut State Police Commissioner Leonard C. Boyle lodging complaints against former Commissioner Arthur L. Spada and other officers for police misconduct.

A Connecticut State Police Officer's Limp Winky, a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle, and a movie idea

* * * *

The History of Abuse of Citizens arbitrarily caught up in the legal system
(Former Governor Rowland, government for sale, bribes, a blowjob, a Connecticut State Police investigation fixed for Rowland cronies, and a court and law enforcement system so sleazy their crimes are obvious to the taxpayers getting screwed)

Can cops rape, rob, beat, and murder with immunity?
(pictures of young adults brutalized by Hartford Police, a 1978 L-82 Corvette, and the White Victorian I lost to police and judicial corruption)

What is Prison really like?
(and other links)

Cops decide what is Free Speech, if they don't like your opinion you can be arrested and railroaded to prison


Blogger Beatspeeding said...

Nice post!
Fight Speeding Tickets

Thursday, October 29, 2015 6:03:00 AM  

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