The ITEA fields many calls and emails about truck enforcement. Sometimes the person is just looking for answers to questions. Other times the caller is looking to pass along information. The troubling calls are the ones with complaints about enforcement practices. This past week two items of note came to the attention of ITEA.
First, a member police officer contacted the ITEA regarding a crash he was investigating. The crash involved a small bus, resulting in serious injuries to a police officer. This was a complex situation…was the bus large enough to consider it a commercial motor vehicle? What classification of CDL, if any, did the driver need? Was the driver required to have any endorsements? Was the registration appropriate?
The officer had poured through all the ITEA resource documents and SOP’s looking for answers but still had questions. Turns out the crash involved a “Multi-function School Activity Bus” (MFSAB). This is a relatively new definition in the law and quite confusing in its application. The ITEA was able to resource with regulatory authorities to provide the officer with solid information to make an informed decision about what enforcement action should be taken.
Contrast that story to this one: A couple months ago another police officer stopped a truck for several “infractions” of the law. The ITEA was contacted and looked into the case. The officer wrote multiple tickets for various overweight and CDL offenses, none of which appeared to be issued correctly. As is customary, the ITEA checked this through a plurality of authorities who agreed. Another officer from the arresting agency (who is a member of the ITEA) was contacted, looked into the tickets himself, and confirmed our suspicions. This officer talked to his partner about the quality of the tickets and the officer refused to back down. The truck driver has been without his license and unable to work during this time. The ITEA received a call this week the case is set to go before a jury for trial…in March 2012. What an unfortunate and unnecessary series of events.
Why would one police officer humbly admit he did not understand something, ask for help, and receive it well – yet another police officer takes enforcement action with a lack of knowledge and refuses to listen to counsel? The answer is pride. Nobody likes to make mistakes and nobody likes to be corrected…fair enough. This is all too true for police officers who are trained to never back down…if a police officer loses a fight he may lose his life. The problem comes when the survivalist mentality carries over to aspects of police work that are not life or death.
Truck law is complex. It is confusing. The ITEA does not have all the answers, but does have the resolve to find the answers and are willing to help those who ask for them. The ITEA is encouraged by the actions and attitude of the first officer and expects great things from him.
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