Exemplary Police Work #12
In 1989 a movie was made which will forever be ingrained in American movie culture. This sequel was about four individuals who started their own business to capture and eradicate the supernatural and unwanted ectoplasmic entities of New York City. In Ghostbusters 2, New York City is overcome by psychomagnotheric slime that is created from all the negativity within the city. In the end, the residents join forces to create enough positive energy to overwhelm the negativity, and the movie happily ends.
It seems the law enforcement community of this country is also overcome by never-ending negativity, and positive reflection is needed now more than ever. The ITEA will take any chance to share a positive moment when trucking and law enforcement cross paths, and one of these moments happened last month.
In late January 2017, an ITEA certified truck officer was on routine patrol when he stopped a two-axle truck showing signs of being overweight. The officer told the driver what he observed. From the truck officer’s perspective, there was nothing special or unique about this truck compared to the hundreds of others he had stopped during the first few years of his truck enforcement career.
The officer escorted the truck to the scale, obtained the axle weights, checked the driver’s CDL, insurance/registration paperwork and certificate of safety. Everything appeared to be in order and up to date.
However, the officer learned two things during his investigation. First, the truck was overweight on its rear axle by 3,450 pounds, and second, it was overweight on registration by 3,100 pounds. Both citations combined carried a fine of more than $1,000. In the world of overweight vehicles, these are relatively low amounts, but still a hefty sum for any trucker.
The officer issued the driver a citation for being overweight on the rear axle, and a citation for being overweight on the registration. To keep business moving, the officer released the driver on nothing more than a signature and told him he was free to drive away once the load was legalized.
At the end of his tour, the officer handed his tickets and paperwork into his supervisor. The supervisor, whom is also a member of the ITEA, was reviewing the paperwork and recognized the name of the company cited as a local business in a nearby town.
The supervisor and officer discussed the traffic stop, the nomenclature of the truck and the citations that were issued. During this discussion, it was learned the truck was a ‘rendering vehicle,’ and not an ordinary truck. The supervisor showed the officer the Illinois Vehicle Code and an ITEA Resource Document titled the Hamilton Weight Chart that shows two-axle rendering vehicles in Illinois receive an extra 2,000 pounds on an individual axle.
Without being prompted by his supervisor, the truck officer began taking steps to correct the mistake he made. He immediately contacted the company and confessed his error. He explained to the company why their vehicle receives an extra weight allowance, and told them the citation will be cancelled without any prosecution.
The company was extremely impressed with how the officer took the initiative to correct the problem, and even admitted to the officer that they were unaware their own vehicle received an extra weight allowance.
Police officers make mistakes. It is reasonable to believe officers assigned to enforce a complex area of policing which has special guidelines, unique restrictions, temporary exemptions and rules which change from season to season, will make mistakes. Making mistakes is only an issue when the officer who made it does not have the conviction to fix it.
This situation involved a small dollar mistake. Unfortunately, other truck officers have made mistakes which cost the industry much more. The dollar amount of the mistake is not of the highest concern. It’s what takes place after the mistake is discovered which makes an officer’s actions relevant.
This officer did not fix this problem because he feared it would be discovered, he fixed it because he had integrity. His actions protected the trucking industry. Protecting the trucking industry through proper enforcement is the prime directive of the ITEA.
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