Cops love me, I tell ya. We have a special relationship.
Cops and me have met on official business while on the road.
Three times between 2008 and 2010.
But I have not seen the inside of a police car, paddy wagon or jail.
Don’t you wonder why? I had three chances to do so in two years.
During the first two-plus years after customizing my car, I was lit up by CHP, police and sheriff black and whites.
Just once for each law enforcement branch to be modest.
The first time was on my way back from a Ford Mustang car show in San Diego. Heading north back to LA and after passing Camp Pendleton – home of the US Marines’ famed 1st Division – I noticed a CHP motorbike merging onto the freeway in my rear view mirror
I am very good at spotting CHP, you know. Especially since the CHP – for some silly reason – is attracted by bright orange¹ Mustangs without mufflers.
Traffic was heavy heading away from historic Camp Pendleton being a Saturday evening; the entire 1st Division must have just been issued liberty. I was pretty much boxed in on the highway. Going with the flow, you know. There were SUVs and passenger cars all around me, most with tinted windows which are illegal here in California. I remember one SUV with limo tint.
But sure enough, before Las Pulgas Road and the border check point, the motorcycle cop lit me up. Hmmm. I wonder why? Could it be because my car is orange with racing stripes? Nah.
So I pulled over, rolled down my tinted windows, put my left arm and hand out my driver’s side window, with my right hand on the top of the steering wheel. Common sense given the car.
The CHP officer carefully walked up to my passenger window and peered in. He walked to the front then came back. “You were speeding back there, have tinted windows and no front license plate. Driver’s license, registration and insurance, please.”
Speeding? No problem. I wasn’t going to bicker with him about the speeding since we were all going at XX mph. I told him I need to get into my console to which he nodded his head. He looked at my driver’s license. He pulled down his sun glasses. I could see he was MUCH younger than I. He then looked up from my license, stared at me, then stared back at my license. He looked into my back seat area, hoping to see if anyone else was back there like a 16 year old son. “Is this YOUR car, sir?”
I yelled over the traffic noise, “Yes, sir… and I bet I’ve been driving longer than you’ve been alive.” He smiled.
He walked back to his bike and I’m sure he checked for wants and warrants. No big deal. I would want him to do that on every stop. I want to protect my kids, you know.
He came back and handed me a “fix it” ticket while saying, “I’m letting you off on the speeding but you have 60 days to get these violations fixed.” I now had to officially get my window tint removed and front license plate installed on my then show-quality car, then have an officer sign it off.
“Ok, sir. Thank you… but you never answered my question if I’ve been driving longer than you’ve been alive.”
He grinned, patted my passenger door’s window sill and said, “Have a good day, sir,” while smiling and walked back to his bike.²
Gee. I didn’t get tackled to the ground, handcuffed or guns drawn on me. I wonder why? Instead, he just smiled.
And I am glad he didn’t ask me to pop the hood… That’s a whole different type of fix it ticket under there. It would have been a gold mine for the CHP money bucket.
Another time was at lunch. I can’t exactly say for sure but perhaps I was speeding just a teensy-weensy bit. Anyways, a Fullerton PD black and white lit me up.
Same routine. Pulled over, rolled down my tinted windows and put my hands where he could see them. He did say he had seen the car driving around before and that he was going to let me go on the window tint, the missing plate and a VERY loud car…this time. But I do think he recognized the “Voss Performance” stickers all over my car. Voss knows a lot of cops around there, thankfully.
The other time, the same routine and results, thankfully. I think the LA County Sheriff felt sorry this nice car was being driven by a decrepit old man in a higher crime area.
But each time, I did not make mainstream mis-media. You know, CNN and the like.
I followed the officer’s orders. Plain and simple.
Nobody came out to say I was being discriminated against because I got picked out of a dozen cars going the same speed, some with a LOT darker tint than mine. What if I were of a different race and I went after the cop? Is it because the cop is a racist?
And please don’t say it was just a traffic stop. It’s the same if a cop approached me on a street corner. I interacted with a cop.
But one thought I do have. Slavery was abolished more than 150 years ago. There’s nobody alive today from that time – well, at least not since George Burns passed away. Yet, they still speak to it in volumes in our children’s US history books. But don’t you find it curious they pretty much overlook WWII which was only 70 years ago?
And if any one “race” has a reason to scream discrimination, it would be my father’s generation about 75 years ago. People of Japanese descent in the “West Coast Exclusion Zone” had all their citizenship and rights stripped away and worldly possessions taken. I don’t recall any other “race” en masse having their citizenship taken away by the stroke of a President’s pen and put behind barbed wire.
I do feel one thing. All this poppy-cock about it being solely the cops that caused the riots in Ferguson, Baltimore and unrest in Philadelphia. It was WRONG for anyone to have NOT complied with the officer’s orders in the first place. Simple as that. Why resist arrest or fight a cop?
If someone doesn’t have drugs, weapons or outstanding warrants on their person, complying would be the end of it… like with me. The only crime I committed was being old. Well, I guess the tint, no license plate, no mufflers and supposed speeding, too.
Why isn’t attention being focused on why these so called race incidents occurred in the first place? Some jerk did not comply with an officer’s orders. Plain and simple.
Has NOT complying become accepted as an appropriate behavior for thugs when stopped by law enforcement officers… and then for it to be pretty much overlooked if something happens just because of their race? That a cop can be assaulted and to say afterwards its part of their job to be a glutton for punishment and not have the right to protect himself/herself? If they fight a cop, what would they do to YOU?
No, I am not condoning someone dying for whatever reason. But we have to stop overlooking the perpetrators themselves and then using their upbringing as the excuse for their behavior… and make them – and their parents – be accountable for their own actions. We need to stop giving them hall passes in every way, shape and form. In essence, we have to stop making ANY race feel special just because of their race. I blame the DOJ, too, for not placing any blame on the “victims”.
If we don’t, this spiral will never end.
1. It is orange. Not yellow!
2. By the way, there are no more “fix it” tickets here in California. You are cited for tint, no plates or whatever else with no chance to appeal. Each type of infraction, I believe, is about $160.
32 thoughts on “Cops and Me”
Se, I had a feeling you would be finding yourself in a pickle, should of offered the officer some spam ‘n musubi 😉
This made me laugh out loud! “That’s a whole different type of fix it ticket under there.” What a hilarious way to put that.!!
Wonderful article; you are SO right. If you do what the cop asks and are friendly and respectful…….NO PROBLEM.
(even if you are a different race 🙂
I will add, however, that so many cops operate in areas where Black challenges to their safety are rampant, they might approach Blacks and others with a different , well, approach. See, MY feeling is that if the Black community does start treating cops with respect and, indeed, isn’t as threatening, cops might approach them in ways that make everybody comfortable, even in the giving of a deserved ticket.
Let’s face it, you have to be a MORON to actually believe a ticket you’re getting isn’t deserved….way down deep, WE KNOW 🙂
I guess that’s the point, Geeez. I was driving a car knowing that I had put on tint that was illegal, had no front plates, etc. As such, the chances of being stopped by a cop increased. And when I did get stopped, I complied. I consider having illegal tint the same as a guy knowingly selling drugs on a corner. If only he would comply instead of running, let’s say, things would be much, much better.
My hubby had one of those fix it jobs in the engine of his 944 turbo. One of his hobbies is porsche racing instruction. He gave me an audi and bought himself a boxter spider at a significant discount. I said, “thanks for the audi, but I’ll take the boxter.” Laughing. The boxter likes to take me driving fast on The Holler’s curvy roads. Love fast cars~
LOL. He got a fix it on his engine? Ouch!! No longer cheap! In some locales, the cops can impound and crush your car if your engine is modified illegally… And your Boxster “takes you” on fast curves. Blahaha!
Having lived in a number of countries (including the US) I have to say that your comments on history teaching would hold true in many western countries. The same ideologues are at work everywhere.
I find that sad, but reassuring. What the heck is up with this?
I would think it to be a case of politics determining what is to be taught?
I tend to agree, sir. I know Japan buries its past.
Thanks for having the courage to write this post, Koji. As for copy, I am sure that some of them just wanted to look at your car. It happens.
I wish that were true, sir, that cops just wanted to look at my car. 🙂 The only time they do is at car shows. They even have the cops pick a “Most Likely to be Pulled Over” car. 🙂 Never won that one.
I love your car. And I love your thoughts. I don’t have experience with being a minority. It’s been quite some time since I was pulled over by law enforcement and I was so scared I kept thanking him for my ticket. So going on only my limited experience, I know I don’t compare. I knew I was speeding that day, and as upset as I was for having been ‘caught’ it was a consequence. And I had to pay the price. Responsibility. We all have to carry our own load.
(And I agree with the other who thinks someone wanted to look at your car) 😉
Koji, when I had my ’67 Mustang, I was twice pulled over. In D.C., I actually was told to put my hands on the hood and lean because I had made the mistake of getting out of the vehicle. They checked it as a stolen vehicle, then let me go. I had a similar incident in Montana. My car must have matched the description of some stolen Mustang. That time I was already out of the car, having a snack at a picnic area. A third time, in Chicago, I was a pedestrian and pulled aside by two cops (bring enough guys?) clearly and entirely and admittedly because of racial profiling — I was the wrong color to be in that neighborhood. They asked, “What are you doing here so late at night?” I was coming home from working at a gym in the neighborhood. I used to be “recreation director” at a juvenile detention center on evenings and weekends while a student. I was too white, apparently. Like you, I did not attack any of those officers of the law because, well, I was raised to respect police. What a concept!
Does Ms. Sugar know you were such a scofflaw, sir? 🙂 We all have our thoughts about being approached by cops. But I do not fear any brutality as I know by cooperating, it will end quickly. I wouldn’t reach into my pocket suddenly nor even touch a cop. That would be plain stupid but it happens very frequently. No sense…and for what purpose? But cops have to approach each situation with the proper caution – they don’t know if that person already has two strikes.
If I didn’t make it clear, I strongly support our law enforcement officers. Sure, there are always a few “bad” ones but that certainly does NOT even come close to ALL of our politicians. Have you ever heard of a “broke” one?… other than one who CLAIMED she was broke. 🙂
How can you be speeding on your bike with Orange Wheels? 🙂 I guess that’s the point of all this. When you get caught, take your medicine… and nicely.
😉 I suppose my speeding on my bike is in a different category. But you’re point is spot on.
Japanese internment then-and-now photos, recently on Mother Jones
Interesting images. Dorothea Lange did “side” with the Nisei’s back then.
You’re a wild guy on the freeway, Koji! For every ticket we somehow pull in there are probably a thousand we have earned yet successfully dodged, right? There are dishonest and dangerous police as well as the finest, most honorable men and women serving their communities with tremendous courage. We’ve seen examples of both in recent events and it’s very sobering. Your observations about history in your son’s textbooks is really interesting, as well. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but then again, it’s not a surprise! Very challenging to find balance in education today! 😦
Indeed, there will be some bad ones but for the most part, they are decent folks in a very hazardous job. That is VERY unlike our politicians. I’d say 90% of them are profiteering crooks. I support our police if that wasn’t clear in my story. And I believe you are associated with higher education if my feeble memory serves me right? What are your thoughts on the focus on discrimination and prejudice in our children’s textbooks?
That’s why we drive an old banger 😀
LOL! But filled with all those cutie pie faces with whiskers and tails!
Whoa! This business of teaching kids discrimination is a new one on me. [It’s been so long since I’ve seen a text book!!] People tend to forget about those WWII camps because it’s convenient for them to do so.
That noise of you being pulled over – you HAD to expect that the day you bought the car!! Come on, Koji – you knew it and you loved it – didn’t you?! 😉
LOL, gpcox! Yes and no about enjoying it! It’s always a fun story to tell about how the cop smiled when asked if I had been driving longer than he’d been alive… but the fix it ticket was a pain. For fear of self-incrimination, let’s just say the fix it ticket got fixed. 🙂
I’m not hung up on those camps. It’s over with… but it shouldn’t happen again en masse. However, if jihad becomes classified as a “cult” of sorts (and not a religion), I’d support rounding them up. They’d be criminals essentially.
And that’s the point of my story: I knowingly did something illegal to my car (I plead the 5th). That makes my car a beacon. It is no different than somebody selling drugs on the corner. In my case, I complied with the police officer. Think of all the hassles we would have avoided if “they” complied instead of running or attacking a police officer.
Good points all-around, Koji. One more – if we rounded up the jihad now, it is after the fact that they attacked us and admitted they would do it again at every chance. A far different case than WWII when Nisei were picked up BEFORE any sort of anti-American activities occurred.
I agree with you, but over here in England there is certainly a problem with black males being stopped in their cars seemingly because they are black and the car is an expensive car. This is to check if it is stolen or not, presumably. It has happened far too often to mega-rich soccer players and politicians for it to be coincidence. It doesn’t seem to happen to white footballers or MPs. And yes, they may have committed an infringement, but it may be just touching a white lane marker with a wheel. That is enough to stop a car here. Ultimately, of course, such silliness by certain police officers is counter productive.
You may have a situation there that is slightly different in substance? I don’t know. But I guess the point of my story was by putting tint on my windows, it became a beacon. It was illegal and gave a cop the right to pull me over. It, in my humble opinion, is no different in concept from that of someone selling drugs on a street corner. It’s as illegal as my window tint… but I complied fully.
Gorgeous car, Koji. The surprise is when they pull you over and you don’t fit the stereotype.
Ha! There are old criminals, too! LOL I also have some thoughts about traffic stops that will remain in my head…
Wow, what an exciting beauty of a car! Once a cop pulls you over for anything, they will add whatever else they find to the ticket, hence the extra ding for tinted windows everyone else has, too. When we got our old lemon-yellow Mustang, I warned our teen daughter not to speed as she would be so noticeable. Unfortunately, our “Yellow Dream” was totaled on Lake Shore Drive Chicago by a driver who did not notice the bright yellow had stopped ahead of her.
Yes, the protesting public makes no acknowledgement of the life-threatening danger police feel whenever they are in crime-ridden neighborhoods – of any color. Be polite and do what the cops tell you. Complain later if you feel you have been wronged, the media will be happy to back you these days. Discrimination and unwarranted excess force does happen and needs to be stopped, but the huge, attacking Mr. Brown and people pointing guns are not the poster children for this. (I live in St. Louis, aka The New Wild West).
I sincerely hope you or others that were in your car escaped serious injury, Linda. But it is a complex social question/situation, isn’t it? I feel what fuels a person’s mindset to become combative is no excuse for attacking a police officer. But I take it one step more – if that person will attack a police officer, what would he do to my family?