Letters to the Editor

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LAKEWOOD: Police need better communication skills

Letter by K.I. Lyons, Vaughn on Jan. 5, 2012 at 12:11 pm with 64 Comments »
January 5, 2012 12:11 pm

Recently on my way to work I was a victim of a speed trap in Lakewood. The Lakewood motorcycle officer was strikingly arrogant and with an angry voice and manner issued me my ticket.

I am also a public servant, a hospital nurse of 42 years. Being treated as if I was a criminal was totally unacceptable. Discussing this matter at work revealed that many of the nurses and doctors have also been treated without respect by Lakewood police.

I called this officer’s supervisor, whose comments were, “Did he use profanity?” and “You were speeding. I don’t see a problem.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

I am disgusted about paying the wages of public servants who treat us with so much disrespect. I am not confident that this officer could or would protect me if I needed help.
I think they need training to tell the good guy from the bad guy and reprimanded for treating hard-working taxpayers so poorly.

Leave a comment Comments → 64
  1. BlaineCGarver says:

    Wah….I’m glad your “hard-working” self didn’t hurt someone speeding.

  2. bigredone says:

    1) you are not a “victim”. You broke the law. That is a crime. There fore:
    2) you ARE a criminal so being “treated as if I was a criminal” is appropriate.
    3) disrepect is in the eye of the beholder.
    4) so who is the good guy and who is the bad guy?

    Slow down, obey the law and you have no problem.

  3. TacomaDad79 says:

    SO according to you, he was the bad guy for giving you the ticket and you were the good guy for having your feelings hurt?

  4. slugoxyz says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHA. “I was a victim…blah blah blah…” Wait a minute? You were a suspect in this case. Victim? You just crack me up.

  5. keepinitreal says:

    What is a “speed trap” ?

  6. Misunderestimated says:

    KI Lyons, you should remember “T’is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

    You were speeding, you were caught.
    Now quit whining about the meanie police officer and pay your fine.
    What a fool!

  7. itwasntmethistime says:

    I live in Lakewood and I’m sick of people racing around. Believe me, the cops don’t need to trick people with a “speed trap.” They can just park anywhere in plain sight with a radar gun and bust plenty of people, which is probably what happened to you, not a “speed trap.”

  8. APimpNamedSlickback says:

    When I was 16, I got pulled over in Ruston for going 2 mph over the limit. And, yes, the officer was a jerk, as Ruston police are (or at least were at the time) known to be. I challenged the ticket and tried making a similar argument to the judge that the letter writer presents.

    The judge interrupted me and said: “Wait a minute… ‘Speed Trap?’ What is a speed trap?” I told him that it was a place that police hang around looking for people who are speeding. The judge said: “As if there were something wrong with that. Isn’t that part of a traffic officer’s job?… And aren’t you supposed to drive at or below the posted limit?” I said yes to both questions. Then the judge said: “So ‘Speed Trap’ is a misnomer, right? Sort of like a ‘Tax Evasion Trap?”

    He went on to tell me that since the officer never used profanity or gave me an improper instruction, chances are, my perception of his rudeness was likely colored by my indignance at getting pulled over. He also said the world was full of rude people, and if I didn’t learn to deal with that, I’d have a rough life ahead of me.

    Then he dismissed the ticket, because the officer didn’t show up to the hearing. He said the police aren’t there to make you feel good about being you; they’re there to catch people who break the law. And lastly, “the easiest way to avoid an unpleasant conversation with moody traffic cop?… drive 2 mph slower in Ruston.”

  9. now if I could just get the woman driving the car with the fish symbol to get off the phone and quit tailgating me in the outside lane….

  10. beerBoy says:

    Not sure why the officer needs to give you hugs and kisses when you broke the law and he in engaging in an activity that is assumed to be extremely dangerous for the officer (research suggests that it might not be as dangerous a popularly conceived)

  11. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    The cops are like the teachers, cut their budget and they punish the parents and the taxpayers.

    This lady was just going to work, was she speeding? Just getting a ticket doesn’t make you guilty. I have had lots of speeding tickets and every one was thrown out of court because the police didn’t follow procedure. I hope she fights the ticket, lots of lawyers will work for you for the price of the fine. I would rather give the cash to a lawyer instead of the city courts that demand the cops go out and ticket the low hanging fruit as a source of revenue.

    Hopefully when the day comes we fire the union cops the private cops are somewhat nicer to the people that pay them. Bottom line is this lady has every right to be upset. Cops should always be polite unless they are given some lip. This lady sound like a good citizen and we should join with her and be outraged at the Lakewood cops.

    How about catch the guy that broke into my neighbor’s house not just hide in the bushes and ticket the hard working out there for 5 MPH over.

  12. Copper2Steel says:

    Better communication, huh? I think the POSTED speed limit signs are a perfectly acceptable and appropriate form of communication.

  13. bigred: “1) you are not a “victim”. You broke the law. That is a crime.”

    Nyet. Traffic violations do not constitute crime. And yes, many police go about their day with a bad attitude and questionable professionalism. Some cops will even joke about how some person failed the “attitude test”. Nevertheless, as has been written, you were in fact in violation of traffic law, and really don’t have a valid complaint. It would be nice if everyone in the world acted absolutely professional, but people are people, and cops are merely people.

  14. dinseattle says:

    I’m married to a cop and get speeding tickets. Quit whining. You were speeding and got caught. So do I. I just pay them and go on my merry way. They have a job to do and so do you and I. Like I haven’t ever met a crabby, rude and unprofessional nurse? They’re a dime a dozen just like the crabby cops. At least you don’t have to hear the lectures on a daily basis about how I could learn to do the speed limit, occasionally check my speedometer, and about all the RCW’s ever instituted by the legislature for my safety. Sheesh! It’s not the end of the world. It’s just a traffic ticket. Get over it.

  15. SadujTogracse says:

    Yeah because the fish symbol was all important to that story (eyeroll)

  16. If I have to explain which lane is the outside lane, you have no business telling me how to drive.

    I thought her fish symbol meant she was into fishing.

    I can see the Holiday Spirit is still alive.

  17. Murigen says:

    K.I. does have a point. K.I. was speeding and stopped. Okay. Just because K.I. was breaking a civil law, which does not make him/her a criminal, the cop shouldn’t be rude. The cop should be totally professional in dealing with the driver. If he/she isn’t he/she isn’t doing the job properly. Just because you haven’t been taking care of your teeth properly and end up in the dental chair getting a deep cleaning doesn’t mean the hygienist should be allowed to be rude while trying to clean the garbage out from under your gums. Same with the cop. A rude cop should be counseled and sent through some kind of training and if he/she keeps getting complaints about being rude and unprofessional should be fired.

  18. How many times working as a nurse have you been treated
    “with disrespect”?

  19. ItalianSpring says:

    Sorry nurse. I’ll bet you have a bad day occasionally yourself??? I’d bet my new flat screen that if you weren’t speeding the cop wouldn’t have even stopped you. Then you could have avoided his arrogance all together. Man up.

  20. taxedenough? Nice, if we privatize our police force then WHERE is the accountability? We’ll be like Mexico! The law only follows the highest bidder, and pretty soon traffic violations/ tickets will be determined by who has the most $$ or biggest breasts- BTW If she was speeding, she got caught, she deserves the ticket. Perhaps the “rudeness” she accuses the officer of was because she wasn’t willing to accept responsibility for her unsafe driving.

  21. Murigen? Are you suggesting that before an officer apprehends a criminal, that s/he says, “Please stop what you are doing- its not nice!” ???

  22. Tuffgal74 says:

    I think I met this same cop last week by way of Lakewood “speed trap”. Three motorcycles in one spot, pulling people over right & left. However, I was indeed speeding (breaking the law) so yeah, I wasn’t expecting the officer to come up to my car smiling & skipping! He’s probably pissed at all the speeding people in the “speed trap”. I’m donating my $157 to the city & moving on. It’s a speeding ticket. Life sucks, then you die. :)

  23. keepinitreal says:

    Glad to see some folks can stay on topic.

  24. itwasntmethistime says:

    Murigen — You automatically believe the cop was indeed rude just because this person says so? I wasn’t there, but it sounds like this person was highly irritated that he/she was pulled over in the first place, so it’s my guess that if there were any bad attitudes involved, the letter writer was the guilty party.

  25. surething says:

    Professionalism, it belongs in every line of work.

  26. concernedtacoma7 says:

    X6, are truly that ignorant that you did not know what the fish symbol represents?

  27. Which fish symbol do you speak of, concernedtacoma7? There is more than one seen on automobiles.

  28. And people wonder why the public has such a low opinion of cops. I’ve had cops be professional or at least curt;(I speed a fair amount, and accept th civil penalty that comes with the choice). However, when one is an arrogant jerk to me, I go off right back at them. As long as you don’t threaten, you can tell them what they are, what there mother does for money and thrills, and be just as rude. When they get angry, then I give them the option of treating me professionally and with courtesy. I also ask them if they need me to sign their paycheck while they are at my window since I am their boss and employer :). Lots of people think a cop can do something to you if you are rude back. They really can’t. Long as your lights aren’t out, you are recording the stop on your cell phone, your insurance is current etc. you are good to go. I’ve had a few cops over the years apologize. I then apologize for being an a#$ back to them, they write me my ticket; I pay the atttorney to get it tossed and we all go about our business.

  29. meant their mother

  30. Murigen says:

    Frida, I’m suggesting that a cop making a traffic stop be professional. I’ve been stopped for speeding, the cop was polite and professional while giving me the ticket. Not rude, not arrogant.

  31. Murigen says:

    itwasn’tme…Yes, I’m taking what the write said at face value. I’m not assuming that K.I. was snarky to begin with. While I mentioned being stopped for speeding and the cop being professional I’ve also been stopped and accused of running a red light. That cop was rude. I didn’t say anymore, took the ticket, contested it and won.

  32. ReadNLearn says:

    Dude, you were speeding. Pay the ticket and quit whining.

    Besides, you’re a male nurse. nuff said.

  33. SadujTogracse says:

    There is a hammer and sickle symbol on X6’s vehicle!

  34. So Saduj… What symbol do you have on the back of your car? A swastika?

  35. ruthann says:

    Since when does getting caught speeding and paying the consequence make one a victim? I wonder if the victim was polite to the offensive officer…

  36. auwing1978 says:

    Cops on motorcycles are there for Traffic Enforcement. It is their job which includes writing tickets to offenders. If you are speeding you are breaking the law and suffer the consequences if caught. In this case we don’t get to see a video or hear an audio of the discussion between the cop and the offender. Might prove interesting.

    As a side note, I got pulled over by a Kitsap Co. Sheriff recently. 46 in a 35. I had my 4 way flashers on, had the glove box open, had my hands 10/2 on the steering wheel and if it had have been evening, I would have had the interior light on. The officer looked at me and advised I was going a bit fast. He asked if I had a clean driving record. I addressed him as Officer. He did not even ask for my driver’s license or registration. He asked me to slow down so I could keep my good driving record and wished me a nice day.

    I too called his supervisor……what a good experience and I wanted his boss to know. The officer’s technique on me sure slowed me down.

  37. Dave98373 says:

    KI Lyons- Quit trying to plead your case to the masses. You are not getting much sympathy here anyway. There are systems in place for both of your gripes. First, if you feel you were not speeding then contest it in court. Second, if you have a complaint against an officer then file a formal complaint (if enough legtimate complaints are made by citizens then the officer can be disciplined). Finally, the LPD has been through enough these past years and has made many sacrifices for all of us. Be grateful for what they do and stop taking a traffic ticket (and how it was given to you) so personal.

  38. beerBoy says:

    Amazing how ReadNLearn managed to sneak in a homophobic remark on this thread.

  39. muckibr says:

    beerBoy, are you saying you think ReadN… was making that up about K,I, Lyons being a male nurse? I just assumed it meant that ReadN… had some special “intimate” knowledge about K.I. Lyons from “personal experience.” How else would ReadN… know such a thing?

  40. I wrote this editorial and am Not complaining that I got the ticket as I was going 7 over the speed limit but I should have been treated as another human being not a criminal. if you had been there you would agree. I was very nice to him no need for complete hostility. i have never committed a crime except a speeding ticket.

  41. auwing: “The officer looked at me and advised I was going a bit fast. He asked if I had a clean driving record. I addressed him as Officer. He did not even ask for my driver’s license or registration. He asked me to slow down so I could keep my good driving record and wished me a nice day.”

    Cops belong to certain units. I don’t know about Kitsap County, and I don’t know how Pierce County does it these days, but years ago, there was the traffic division, which were the “pumpkin” cars, and bikes on nice days. It was their job to hand out traffic tickets and respond to accidents on the west side. (Lakewood and UP. The WSP took care of the east side) Patrol deputies had ticket books, too, but they were in fact unofficially encouraged to not write traffic tickets. Traffic tickets by themselves don’t require too much time, but people might be surprised at how often a traffic stop results in a positive warrant check, which cannot be ignored. So now the cop who’s supposed to be responding to actual crime in progress or taking burglary or other reports is tied up for an hour or better because some dude didn’t pay his parking ticket. That’s why often, you’ll see cops ignore traffic violation, or if it’s truly blatant or stupid, they’ll pull the guy over for PR value of onlooking drivers, tell the guy to do better, and leave without ID’ing the driver. Those are the patrol guys, and if you don’t come to a complete stop at a 4-way, they’ll be looking the other way.

  42. keepinitreal says:

    What remark would that be beerBoy ?

  43. keepinitreal says:

    Ms. Lyons, if you weren’t handcuffed, patted down, and read your miranda rights, it difficult to claim you were treated as a criminal.

  44. muckibr says:

    klyons: Mr.? Ms.? or Mrs.? Just curious.

  45. slugoxyz says:

    So, you’re not upset about the ticket but you are upset at the tone the officer used when you got the ticket. You weren’t forced out of your car, you weren’t roughed up in any way, you weren’t cursed at or I’m assuming even yelled at. But you didn’t like his tone? Good grief. You used words like “victim” and “strikingly arrogant” meaning he was not just arrogant but above that. I’m trying to understand how in the space of time he shows up at your window, asks you for license, registration and proof of insurance, you can pick up that he is “strikingly arrogant” and “angry” at the same time?

    Then you don’t like the response the supervisor gives you. He or she asked you whether the officer used profanity (a possible clue that the officer was excessive or rude) to whit I’m assuming you said no or you would have mentioned it. You were unable to convey your offense to the supervisor just as you are unable to convince us since the majority of people seem unsympathetic. So, having exceeded a posted limit (thus endangering your self, your fellow drivers and pedestrians), you become righteously indignant at the perceived tone an officer used when issuing you a ticket. The tone?

    I don’t get it. Your victimization was not for the ticket as you wrote but for the tone? A perceived arrogant and angry tone? That’s your complaint here? You are indignant that the officer wasn’t as nice as you think he should have been. Was he dressed all right? Were his boots shiny? Was his car clean? Did he bring an umbrella to shade you from the rain or the sun during the ticket process to assure your comfort? Did he offer you a beverage or a Danish? No? How rude? You just can’t get good service when you screw up and endanger your fellow citizens these days!

    Let’s face it. If he had come up smiling you would have found fault. If he had come up monotone, you would have found fault. Anything that officer did, would have been rude in your eyes. This conversation is just silly. You were speeding and you got a ticket. Suck it up, pay the ticket and stop your whining. Good grief…

  46. LibertyBell says:

    Everyone knows the City of Lakewood, just always make sure you have that recorder running, it works the same in every state.

  47. keepinitreal says:

    Here’s an idea.
    Since it’s apparent the way you were treated has upset you, file a freedom of information request for the video/audio from the officer’s car.

  48. slug…the tone of voice means a lot and no you can’t just explain that and have everyone understand. Tone and body language tell you lots of things. Tone and body language can be used to intimidate. They can change the meaning of what’s being said.

  49. cclngthr says:

    You can be pulled over for speeding if you are going 1 mph OVER actual speed, particularly Lakewood.

    However, industry standard of speedometer accuracy according to the federal DOT is the speedometer must be within 10% high or low of actual speed.

  50. ItalianSpring says:

    Libertybell- WA is a two party consent state, meaning it is illegal to record another person’s voice with out their consent, expressed or implied. Sorry.

  51. muri, you’re quite right, many cops take pride in their ability to intimidate regular citizens. Lots of people on this comment forum have dumped on the letter writer for whining, and to a degree, they’re right, but on the other hand, there’s a lot to be said for good PR. If two cops pull over two people for doing exactly the same thing, and one person smiles and bids adieu to the cop, knowing that they were wrong, and the other person comes away thinking what an arrogant pig the guy was, which one of those people are most likely to cooperate or respect the police in the future?

  52. italian, I believe that in public places, there is no expectation of privacy, including voice recording.

  53. ItalianSpring says:

    NO lanq- you are incorrect. Stealthily recording the conversation is illegal.

  54. BlaineCGarver says:

    I get stopped every five years or so….I have a clean record. I’m polite. I say Sir and Maam. I don’t get tickets. Find the Chris Rock YouTube “how not to get the **** beat out of you by the cops” LMAO!!!!

  55. slugoxyz says:

    Murigen- Officers use posture and position to assert their authority in every contact. A weak officer might be an endangered officer. So his voice should be firm, his position should be one that anticipates you doing something to harm them. Anything less than that is negligent and dangerous on their part. That is why they often stand behind you and make you talk over your shoulder. Intimidating? Paaaleeeez. Thank you for the lecture on tone and body language. Drive the speed limit or think of the ticket as a toll to drive faster.

  56. seattlePoliceDepartmentSucks says:

    testing 123

  57. seattlePoliceDepartmentSucks says:

    Nobody likes a loud mouth cop…ask around & you will see what I am talking about. Speeding is one thing, but when a cop thinks he is above the law and likes to talk like a white trash uneducated baby that is another. A good cop is appreciated but disrespectful cops that take the law into their own hands will eventually be dealt with….just ask the seattle police dept. They have some dirty pigs working in that department and they are being dealt with finally. I love it when loud mouth cops get caught ! REMEMBER ITS NOT ABOUT THE TICKET BUT THE MANNER OF THIS TRASHY PIGGY.

  58. ReadNLearn says:

    Interesting…I don’t have a negative opinion of police because I don’t have any interaction with traffic because I follow the laws.

    Well gee…someone who commits a criminal act gets upset about being corrected and other criminals chime up.

  59. keepinitreal says:

    If you want to know haw many innocent people are locked up, just ask them.

  60. Murigen says:

    slug – Obviously you having had enough classes on tone and posture. Tone and posture don’t have to be submissive to not intimidate and they don’t have to be intimidating to show authority. There is a happy medium. That happy medium shows that the cop isn’t going to take any crap but also isn’t condescending. The cop that likes to intimidate a driver for a simple speeding ticket (we’re not talking high speed chase here) is a cop who might use physical force or worse when it’s totally unnecessary.

  61. italian, I believe you’re wrong on this one. When I was a deputy, we were warned that many people, not just reporters, had tape recorders (sony walkman and the like) and to be very professional. I asked a lawyer about this recently, who said that you can record events which occur in public places without permission from the participants, and yes, a roadway and its shoulder is a public place.

  62. keepinitreal says:

    I bet you could find a person who is intimidated by a dust bunny.

  63. slugoxyz says:

    Murg: Every stop is a dangerous stop. Even what you consider to be a minor stop. If an officer is relaxed and not enforcing in his manner, that is when he gets killed. Nope. That is police work 101. No safe stops. So, give him a break and allow him to charge you the toll for speeding. If you don’t want to endure or be a “victim” to his “mean” tone, then obey the law and wave at him as you pass. If you want a smile and a wink, go get a coffee from one of the bikini baristas. Don’t forget to tip…

  64. Murigen says:

    Slug: you like to go to the extreme don’t you. I said I don’t expect the officer to not be on his/her guard or not have an authoritative posture. I do expect him/her to be polite and professional, not condescending. Any officer who uses tone and body language to INTIMIDATE is a potential threat to him/herself and others.

    Being smugly superior isn’t proof of superiority, just the opposite.

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