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Thread: Oregon LEO broke "letter of the law" and was fined for it

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    http://www.komonews.com/news/local/25852314.html

    Story Published: Jul 24, 2008 at 7:40 AM PDT


    Story Updated: Jul 24, 2008 at 7:40 AM PDT

    By Associated Press
    PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Portland police are not above the parking laws.

    Officer Chadd Stensgaard, who parked his patrol car in a no-parking zone while making a dinner-break stop at a Japanese restaurant, must pay a $35 fine, Traffic Court Judge Terry Hannon ruled Wednesday at a well-attended hearing that included several uniformed officers.

    Hannon said he didn't personally think Stensgaard did anything wrong, but had to find him guilty because he violated the letter of the law.

    The letter of the law was first noted by Eric Bryant, an attorney who filed a citizen complaint against the officer in March. He was at the restaurant with friends when Stensgaard parked in a curbside no-parking zone.

    About five minutes after the officer arrived, Bryant walked up to him and told him he was parked illegally. "He told me he was allowed to do so," Bryant testified. "I responded, 'No, you're not.' I told him he was an officer of the law. He's not supposed to break the law. He's supposed to enforce the law."

    Oregon law allows emergency responders to park in no-parking zones when responding to emergencies or chasing suspects. The law says nothing about sushi.

    Stensgaard testified that he needed to park his car close by in case he had to respond to an emergency call or someone tried to mess with the vehicle.

    But Thomas Elliott, the attorney representing Bryant, argued that Stensgaard could have chosen at least half a dozen restaurants in the general vicinity with parking lots.

    Stensgaard responded that some of those restaurants close before he usually stops for dinner, some he's not familiar with and some he considers unhealthy.

    "I don't eat fast food," Stensgaard said.

    Stensgaard declined to comment after his defeat.

    Portland police leaders say they plan to ask city commissioners to make it legal for officers to park in no-parking zones when ordering food or stopping for a restroom break.

    Bryant, meanwhile, saw the ruling as a victory for those who don't carry a badge.

    "I tried to represent the best interests of Oregonians," Bryant said. "And I believe that Oregonians believe police don't get to ignore the law."
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    So, it looks like the Attorney Eric Bryant, who first filed the complaint about the minor police abuse of power, and Judge Terry Hannon, who upheld that complaint, have done us OCers a favor. (Granted this story took place in Oregon.) It does send a clear message to LEOs that are alright with using their position and badge for whatever reason, e.g. personal gain, harrassment of legal activity like OC, etc. that such behavior is against the law. And LEO's must abide by the same law as the rest of us.

    This is not to become an LEO-bashing thread. That is notwhy I posted the story. I do find it interesting that the Police "leaders" say that they want the commissioners to make this illegal activity legal for them, thus creating (even ifby just a small margin) a privileged class. Violation of such a policy, were it enacted, would be quite impossible to enforce, considering theillegally-parked officer could then just say that he was trying to find a bathroom or having a food break, whenever he wanted to park where the red paint was.


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    I agree that the law applies to LEOs as well as civilians. There are some concessions I am willing to make, however, and these are based on practical reasons and not some awestruck reverence.

    It makes sense to me that a cop on a lunch break should have his cruiser parked as close as possible and that his choice of what to eat shouldn't be dictated by parking restrictions (although a handicapped spot should be respected). If the squad car needs to be moved in a hurry, it shouldn't take too long to find the driver (he'll be the one in blue with the shiny nametag).

    It's also important to note that cops are subject to a broad range of rules and regs that we civilians never have to worry about.

    A friend and I were sitting in traffic, crawling through a construction zone. A cop ahead of us flipped on his rollers and pulled out of line, making his way ahead of the rest of us. My friend complained that this was b.s., that the cop only did that so he wouldn't have to wait in traffic like the rest of us poor slobs.

    I disagreed. I said that the cop's salary comes from our taxes, and I'd rather not have my tax money sitting in traffic doing nothing.

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    3/325 wrote:
    I agree that the law applies to LEOs as well as civilians. There are some concessions I am willing to make, however, and these are based on practical reasons and not some awestruck reverence.

    It makes sense to me that a cop on a lunch break should have his cruiser parked as close as possible and that his choice of what to eat shouldn't be dictated by parking restrictions (although a handicapped spot should be respected). If the squad car needs to be moved in a hurry, it shouldn't take too long to find the driver (he'll be the one in blue with the shiny nametag).

    It's also important to note that cops are subject to a broad range of rules and regs that we civilians never have to worry about.

    A friend and I were sitting in traffic, crawling through a construction zone. A cop ahead of us flipped on his rollers and pulled out of line, making his way ahead of the rest of us. My friend complained that this was b.s., that the cop only did that so he wouldn't have to wait in traffic like the rest of us poor slobs.

    I disagreed. I said that the cop's salary comes from our taxes, and I'd rather not have my tax money sitting in traffic doing nothing.
    I agree, 3/325. I think that responding to calls in a timely manner is an important concern for officers and the public. Unfortunately, the same people who complain about cops who park in no parking zones or speed without their lights on or who flip their lights on just to get through traffic or traffic lights are the same people who will complain when the cops don't show up fast enough to their calls.

    However, I also agree that the law should be written to accomodate this concern, and that the judge probably made the right decision (kind of like when the court lets criminals off due to a violation of rights; it doesn't sit quite right, but it is what has to be done to maintain the larger picture, that is our civil rights and the integrity of the legal system).

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    3/325 wrote:
    I agree that the law applies to LEOs as well as civilians. There are some concessions I am willing to make, however, and these are based on practical reasons and not some awestruck reverence.

    It makes sense to me that a cop on a lunch break should have his cruiser parked as close as possible and that his choice of what to eat shouldn't be dictated by parking restrictions (although a handicapped spot should be respected). If the squad car needs to be moved in a hurry, it shouldn't take too long to find the driver (he'll be the one in blue with the shiny nametag).

    It's also important to note that cops are subject to a broad range of rules and regs that we civilians never have to worry about.

    A friend and I were sitting in traffic, crawling through a construction zone. A cop ahead of us flipped on his rollers and pulled out of line, making his way ahead of the rest of us. My friend complained that this was b.s., that the cop only did that so he wouldn't have to wait in traffic like the rest of us poor slobs.

    I disagreed. I said that the cop's salary comes from our taxes, and I'd rather not have my tax money sitting in traffic doing nothing.
    Unless he was responding to an emergency the use of lights is illegal. So if he did it just to avoid the traffic jam, he was a criminal.

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    Exactly - make the law read as the people of that governmental jurisdiction believe it should, and then enforce it without favortism.

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    Bear 45/70 wrote:
    3/325 wrote:
    I agree that the law applies to LEOs as well as civilians. There are some concessions I am willing to make, however, and these are based on practical reasons and not some awestruck reverence.

    It makes sense to me that a cop on a lunch break should have his cruiser parked as close as possible and that his choice of what to eat shouldn't be dictated by parking restrictions (although a handicapped spot should be respected). If the squad car needs to be moved in a hurry, it shouldn't take too long to find the driver (he'll be the one in blue with the shiny nametag).

    It's also important to note that cops are subject to a broad range of rules and regs that we civilians never have to worry about.

    A friend and I were sitting in traffic, crawling through a construction zone. A cop ahead of us flipped on his rollers and pulled out of line, making his way ahead of the rest of us. My friend complained that this was b.s., that the cop only did that so he wouldn't have to wait in traffic like the rest of us poor slobs.

    I disagreed. I said that the cop's salary comes from our taxes, and I'd rather not have my tax money sitting in traffic doing nothing.
    Unless he was responding to an emergency the use of lights is illegal. So if he did it just to avoid the traffic jam, he was a criminal.
    Not quite Bear...

    Unless there is another law I am not aware of (and couldn't find), the law specifies what things and officer can do while responding to a call, and requires that he use his emergency equipment while doing it. Those things specifically are:

    (a) Park or stand, irrespective of the provisions of this chapter;

    (b) Proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation;

    (c) Exceed the maximum speed limits so long as he does not endanger life or property;

    (d) Disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions.


    (From RCW 46.61.035)

    It places no requirements on when he can use his emergency equipment. So while there is certainly an understandable disdain for an officer using equipement to get out of the jam, it isn't illegal for him to do so unless one of the specified things occur.

    If a cop is in a traffic jam, hits the lights, others are required to move out of his way. He gets through the jam, but likely won't be exceeding the speed limit. Even if he goes down the shoulder, he is still going in the right direction.

    Evern if he does break the rule, he would be subject to whatever traffic cite for the actual act. 46.61.035 doesn't specifiy a penalty for offense, so it would default to the actual act. All of those things are infractions and not criminal.

    It might leave a sour taste in themouth, but as another poster mentioned, they are on the job and are supposed to be doing things, I would rather they get a pass than collect a check to sit in traffic.

    I get at least 1-2 complaints each month about one of our units cruising the HOV lane. Most folks are shocked that there is a specific exception to the HOV rules for emergency vehicles and thatit doesn't require they be responding to a call.

    I think it is just sour grapes that cops "get" something they don't and the usual mentality of "hate the cops unless you need a cop".

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    Nice to see we have someone that will police the police. If hehad won this case, next time a handicap person has to find a parking spot, a delivery truck has to make a delivery, a ambulance has to pick up a causality, a fire truck has to fight a fire, or a LEO has to respond to a 911 call in a supermarket. All the immediate access spots would be taken with patrol cars.



    But even with this being said we all make mistakes in our professions. I rather him havea misunderstanding in where he could park his car, then have a misunderstanding with his sidearm on a civilian simply OCing.

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    Alwayspacking wrote:
    If hehad won this case, next time a handicap person has to find a parking spot, a delivery truck has to make a delivery, a ambulance has to pick up a causality, a fire truck has to fight a fire, or a LEO has to respond to a 911 call in a supermarket. All the immediate access spots would be taken with patrol cars.
    For most of those situations, the "offending" cop will hear the call on his radio and will be on the scene before the ambulance/fire truck/other LEO.

    I personally have never seen a cop park in a handicapped spot. Nor do I ever expect to.

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    Yeah, I was being sarcastic.Its hard to tell from reading forums

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    911Boss wrote:
    Bear 45/70 wrote:
    3/325 wrote:
    I agree that the law applies to LEOs as well as civilians. There are some concessions I am willing to make, however, and these are based on practical reasons and not some awestruck reverence.

    It makes sense to me that a cop on a lunch break should have his cruiser parked as close as possible and that his choice of what to eat shouldn't be dictated by parking restrictions (although a handicapped spot should be respected). If the squad car needs to be moved in a hurry, it shouldn't take too long to find the driver (he'll be the one in blue with the shiny nametag).

    It's also important to note that cops are subject to a broad range of rules and regs that we civilians never have to worry about.

    A friend and I were sitting in traffic, crawling through a construction zone. A cop ahead of us flipped on his rollers and pulled out of line, making his way ahead of the rest of us. My friend complained that this was b.s., that the cop only did that so he wouldn't have to wait in traffic like the rest of us poor slobs.

    I disagreed. I said that the cop's salary comes from our taxes, and I'd rather not have my tax money sitting in traffic doing nothing.
    Unless he was responding to an emergency the use of lights is illegal. So if he did it just to avoid the traffic jam, he was a criminal.
    Not quite Bear...

    Unless there is another law I am not aware of (and couldn't find), the law specifies what things and officer can do while responding to a call, and requires that he use his emergency equipment while doing it. Those things specifically are:

    (a) Park or stand, irrespective of the provisions of this chapter;

    (b) Proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation;

    (c) Exceed the maximum speed limits so long as he does not endanger life or property;

    (d) Disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions.


    (From RCW 46.61.035)

    It places no requirements on when he can use his emergency equipment. So while there is certainly an understandable disdain for an officer using equipement to get out of the jam, it isn't illegal for him to do so unless one of the specified things occur.

    If a cop is in a traffic jam, hits the lights, others are required to move out of his way. He gets through the jam, but likely won't be exceeding the speed limit. Even if he goes down the shoulder, he is still going in the right direction.

    Evern if he does break the rule, he would be subject to whatever traffic cite for the actual act. 46.61.035 doesn't specifiy a penalty for offense, so it would default to the actual act. All of those things are infractions and not criminal.

    It might leave a sour taste in themouth, but as another poster mentioned, they are on the job and are supposed to be doing things, I would rather they get a pass than collect a check to sit in traffic.

    I get at least 1-2 complaints each month about one of our units cruising the HOV lane. Most folks are shocked that there is a specific exception to the HOV rules for emergency vehicles and thatit doesn't require they be responding to a call.

    I think it is just sour grapes that cops "get" something they don't and the usual mentality of "hate the cops unless you need a cop".
    That would depend on the level of the call too. For a taking of a report on a break in, lights and sirenswould beinappropriate and most departments have policies on when and where the lights and sirens are appropriate. I doubt stuck in a traffic jam is one of them.

    FYI, I never needed a cop or really wanted one. The only time I evercalled them, about my car being broken into and the attempted taking the CD player and the theft of a couple of high dollar shotguns, the lazy azzwipes never even bothered to come out and finger print the car, only took the report over the phone. Guns never recovered by the way. They were real worried about the guns being stolen, NOT!

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    I think I would like to see a "Manditory Investigation Law" for any stolen weapon. I have here many times that the police dont even come out to talk to the owner. I wonder how hard it would be to get this on the books.

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    But Thomas Elliott, the attorney representing Bryant, argued that Stensgaard could have chosen at least half a dozen restaurants in the general vicinity with parking lots.

    Stensgaard responded that some of those restaurants close before he usually stops for dinner, some he's not familiar with and some he considers unhealthy.
    He could also have choosen to brown bag it like so many others who work and do not park illegaly.

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    Alwayspacking wrote:
    we all make mistakes in our professions. I rather him havea misunderstanding in where he could park his car, then have a misunderstanding with his sidearm on a civilian simply OCing.
    +1 I agree. I'm not saying LEOs are above the law. The story doesn't show me a gross abuse of authority. So the guy "broke the letter of the law". Of all the laws he could have broken I think a parking infraction is about as minor as you can get. Who here hasn't been guilty of the exact same thing? This story is no where as serious as most of you are making out to be.

    -Badger
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    badger wrote:
    Alwayspacking wrote:
    we all make mistakes in our professions. I rather him havea misunderstanding in where he could park his car, then have a misunderstanding with his sidearm on a civilian simply OCing.
    +1 I agree. I'm not saying LEOs are above the law. The story doesn't show me a gross abuse of authority. So the guy "broke the letter of the law". Of all the laws he could have broken I think a parking infraction is about as minor as you can get. Who here hasn't been guilty of the exact same thing? This story is no where as serious as most of you are making out to be.

    -Badger
    Sorry, but if the cop will cheat on something little, he will cheat on something big sometine down the road. Besides the cops choose to enforce the law and should be held to a higher standard because of that choice or they are not worthy to enforce the law.

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    Bear 45/70 wrote:
    Sorry, but if the cop will cheat on something little, he will cheat on something big sometine down the road. Besides the cops choose to enforce the law and should be held to a higher standard because of that choice or they are not worthy to enforce the law.
    Yes, illegal parking is a "gateway crime".

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    badger wrote:
    Bear 45/70 wrote:
    Sorry, but if the cop will cheat on something little, he will cheat on something big sometine down the road. Besides the cops choose to enforce the law and should be held to a higher standard because of that choice or they are not worthy to enforce the law.
    Yes, illegal parking is a "gateway crime".

    -Badger
    No but it is a damned indicator that the azzwipe doesn't follow the rules and thinks he is special. That's BS and how the hell can anyone repect a two faced moron that cheats himself but writes you a ticket for doing the same thing. It WRONG no matter how you spell it!

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    Bear 45/70 wrote:
    badger wrote:
    Bear 45/70 wrote:
    Sorry, but if the cop will cheat on something little, he will cheat on something big sometine down the road. Besides the cops choose to enforce the law and should be held to a higher standard because of that choice or they are not worthy to enforce the law.
    Yes, illegal parking is a "gateway crime".

    -Badger
    No but it is a damned indicator that the azzwipe doesn't follow the rules and thinks he is special. That's BS and how the hell can anyone repect a two faced moron that cheats himself but writes you a ticket for doing the same thing. It WRONG no matter how you spell it!
    Let he who has never exceeded the speed limit or committed ANY traffic violation cast the first stone. That too is an infraction, and do you believe that anyone who has ever sped, will also cheat on something big? I personally do not agree with the Officer parking in that zone to merely eat lunch, but should I judge YOU the same way as you have ALL violated traffic laws?
    If you have to fight, do not fear death. We will all die one day, so fight skillfully and bravely! And if it is to be that you die, then at least go to God proudly. Meet him as the proud warrior that you are, and not as a sniveling coward. Nobody lives forever.

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    I think Fred is driving at (no pun intended) the fact that LEOs are held to such a high standard that a minor infraction should be a much bigger deal for them. That said I tend to agree. If you see the cops violating even a small law out of convience for them, and in this case seeming to rely on their marked cruiser for that purpose then they should be held more accountable.

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    sv_libertarian wrote:
    I think Fred is driving at (no pun intended) the fact that LEOs are held to such a high standard that a minor infraction should be a much bigger deal for them. That said I tend to agree. If you see the cops violating even a small law out of convience for them, and in this case seeming to rely on their marked cruiser for that purpose then they should be held more accountable.
    I can agree with that, but does that make him a "azzwipe, two face moron, or indicate that he will"cheaton something big"?as Bear claims? Is it then acceptable for Officers to categorize citizen violatorsas these things as well? or is it just okay because they are citizens, and not held to as higha standard.

    I hear those preaching complete equality, but then gripe when an Officer violates, and scream for them to be held to a higher standard.
    If you have to fight, do not fear death. We will all die one day, so fight skillfully and bravely! And if it is to be that you die, then at least go to God proudly. Meet him as the proud warrior that you are, and not as a sniveling coward. Nobody lives forever.

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    I think Bear has the right to his opinion, and it is formed from his real world experiences.

    I can say this much, based on my experiences with officers over the years for various reasons I would be more inclined to trust the ones who found a legit parking space than those who didn't. It's the little things that add up.

    I am very much aware of the nature of my job and the company I represent. When I am wearing anything with their logo on it, I am VERY careful about my behavior because it will reflect on the company.

    Same thing with cops. If officers are allowed to get away with little infractions it WILL hurt the image of the officers and the agency, justified or not.

    I'm careful to make sure the image of those I represent is not tarnished when I wear their logo, and I think the same is needed of LEOs. If I piss someone off wearing my work shirt I may lose one or two customers. If a LEO does something wrong while in uniform or in a cop car, they may lose the trust of an entire community.

    It's tough, but I have some understanding of what it is.

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    sv_libertarian wrote:
    I think Bear has the right to his opinion, and it is formed from his real world experiences.

    I can say this much, based on my experiences with officers over the years for various reasons I would be more inclined to trust the ones who found a legit parking space than those who didn't. It's the little things that add up.

    I am very much aware of the nature of my job and the company I represent. When I am wearing anything with their logo on it, I am VERY careful about my behavior because it will reflect on the company.

    Same thing with cops. If officers are allowed to get away with little infractions it WILL hurt the image of the officers and the agency, justified or not.

    I'm careful to make sure the image of those I represent is not tarnished when I wear their logo, and I think the same is needed of LEOs. If I piss someone off wearing my work shirt I may lose one or two customers. If a LEO does something wrong while in uniform or in a cop car, they may lose the trust of an entire community.

    It's tough, but I have some understanding of what it is.
    You are a wise man sv, and I agree with your opinion (although not always Bears). Here's a good example for you; We are allowed to stop at a grocery or whatever type of store (on our way home, in uniform/patrol car, off duty) to pick up food or necessities. Even though I am off-duty, I will not do this, as I do not wish to be seen by other customers "doing my shopping on company time". Although most would never make a verbal comment, I know some would assume that I am shopping on the taxpayers dollar. I personally care enough that I do not want to be seen in this light, and do not want my Dept's image tarnished either by those who may "assume".
    If you have to fight, do not fear death. We will all die one day, so fight skillfully and bravely! And if it is to be that you die, then at least go to God proudly. Meet him as the proud warrior that you are, and not as a sniveling coward. Nobody lives forever.

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    Johnny Law wrote:
    sv_libertarian wrote:
    I think Fred is driving at (no pun intended) the fact that LEOs are held to such a high standard that a minor infraction should be a much bigger deal for them. That said I tend to agree. If you see the cops violating even a small law out of convience for them, and in this case seeming to rely on their marked cruiser for that purpose then they should be held more accountable.
    I can agree with that, but does that make him a "azzwipe, two face moron, or indicate that he will"cheaton something big"?as Bear claims? Is it then acceptable for Officers to categorize citizen violatorsas these things as well? or is it just okay because they are citizens, and not held to as higha standard.

    I hear those preaching complete equality, but then gripe when an Officer violates, and scream for them to be held to a higher standard.
    You claim to not be one of the cheater. Then why the hell are you so bent on defending anything they do? If he is a cheater, enforcing the rules on the rest of us, but ignoring them himself he deserves no respect from anyone. But then I've made it plain how I feel about the blue line and their total denial of the facts.

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    Bear 45/70 wrote:
    You claim to not be one of the cheater. Then why the hell are you so bent on defending anything they do? If he is a cheater, enforcing the rules on the rest of us, but ignoring them himself he deserves no respect from anyone. But then I've made it plain how I feel about the blue line and their total denial of the facts.
    This was clipped from a previous post, and hopefully answers your question.


    "I personally do not agree with the Officer parking in that zone to merely eat lunch,"

    If he had been on a call, it would be acceptaable.
    If you have to fight, do not fear death. We will all die one day, so fight skillfully and bravely! And if it is to be that you die, then at least go to God proudly. Meet him as the proud warrior that you are, and not as a sniveling coward. Nobody lives forever.

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    Johnny Law wrote:
    Bear 45/70 wrote:
    You claim to not be one of the cheater. Then why the hell are you so bent on defending anything they do? If he is a cheater, enforcing the rules on the rest of us, but ignoring them himself he deserves no respect from anyone. But then I've made it plain how I feel about the blue line and their total denial of the facts.
    This was clipped from a previous post, and hopefully answers your question.


    "I personally do not agree with the Officer parking in that zone to merely eat lunch,"

    If he had been on a call, it would be acceptaable.
    I agree withthe statements. But the arrogance to think thatthe no parking zone did not apply to him for a meal break is beyond any reason.

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    Did anyone stop to think for a moment, that just maybe the officer truly believed he was allowed to park there? Maybe when he was new others did it, or a supervisor told him it was allowed.

    Yup, a judge decided it was wrong. So wrong in fact, that the lawmakers seem to think the law should be tweaked to allow it in the future.

    Kinda going to an extreme with the ASSumption that it was an intentional violation with indifference to the law and what not.

    Quite the leap to say if a cop bends the rules for parking he will also perjure himself, plant drugs, abuse civil rights and any host of other things. If you want to suggest they will, then turnabout is fairplay and don't bitch if they decide every traffic infraction warrants a felony stop.

    The world isn't black and white, there is a whole lot of gray in between...

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