A common theme heard among police officers is the reason why they wanted to be police officers in the first place – variety. For most officers, the idea of a traditional job sitting behind a desk was not very attractive. However, it’s easy for people to get stuck in a rut doing the same monotonous job over and over and over again. Nothing could be truer for truck officers who only concentrate on vehicle weight enforcement.
Truck enforcement programs which focus on weight enforcement only are synonymous with the damaging reputation of revenue enhancement. Truck enforcement programs which empower a police officer to diversify his efforts, strengthen the reputation and perception of a police department.
There has never been a time in modern policing quite like today as it pertains to diversity. While the social and mainstream media outlets paint the diversity of police work on a cultural canvass, truck officers can do themselves a favor by not being weight-only enforcers.
Within the enforcement of laws, there is a lot more truck officers can do besides weight. They can enforce size laws, commercial driver’s license violations, safety tests and fuel tax. What local police officers in Illinois cannot do is stop and inspect trucks under federal law (which is reserved for the Illinois State Police) or creatively shoehorn a truck inspection into the Illinois Vehicle Code.
Weight laws are complex in and of themselves, but each discipline of truck laws is just, if not more, complicated than weight laws. Sometimes it’s easier to take the easy road, but those who do rarely last more than a couple years doing trucks.
It’s human nature to want to learn and be challenged. The thrill and excitement of overweight tickets can pass fairly quick. If truck officers want to build a reputable program for the long haul, they will need to learn to do more than just use scales.
The ITEA offers a 40-hour Advanced Truck Officer course every fall, and in 2015 it is being held October 5th to the 9th at the College of DuPage. The purpose for this class is two-fold. First, to go deep into truck law with the best and brightest in the craft. The second reason is to show them there is way more to do with trucks than just weight.
Good truck enforcement is not only about law enforcement. Truck officers, especially those assigned full-time, need to embrace the components of community policing and apply it to trucks. Any police officer can learn to write tickets. Becoming a true student of the industry means investing themselves into education, training and regulatory authority.
Truck officers should regularly train fellow officers on basic truck law, officer safety around trucks, and truck crash reporting. They should be actively involved in local permitting. Local businesses and trucking companies appreciate a pro-active and educational relationship with truck officers. They should be assigned to handle complaints from citizens about trucks, and complaints from truckers about citizens!
Truckers and trucking companies should not settle for mediocre, ticket writing truck enforcement programs. Being a taxpayer does not mean you always get your way, but a good taxpayer should be involved.
The trucking industry professionals who work constructively and cooperatively with local government can expect the same in return. There is nothing wrong with asking your local truck officer to sit down and discuss ideas on how you two can work together. There is nothing wrong with engaging local officials in a meaningful conversation about the diversity of their truck enforcement program.
Offer to help promote a day where the officer can be at your shop so other local truckers can stop by to meet, greet and ask questions. Offer to help the officer learn how to drive trucks so he can get a CDL. Offer to be eyes and ears for the officer when he knows companies are breaking the rules.
The trucker-police officer relationship surely does not need to be adversarial. Much like society as a whole, the more diverse things are, the better everyone gets along.