By Ken Martin
WELL. IT’S MY TURN!: Anyone who has read this column over time is aware that I have always supported our local law enforcement agencies. However, I have had a couple of incidents recently involving Sheriffs Deputies that merit some comment and criticism.
INCIDENT #1: About a week and a half ago I was waiting in the left turn lane on Redwood Road at Somerset Avenue. When the arrow turned green I proceeded to make my turn through the intersection. Suddenly I saw a Sheriffs car coming through the red light with no warning lights and starting to make a right turn in front of me. Fortunately, I saw him in time to slow down and let him turn ahead of me, which he did without benefit of a turn signal, as usual. Had I not slowed, I most likely would hit him right in the driver’s door.
INCIDENT #2: Five days later I left my house and stopped at the stop sign at Somerset and Santa Maria. When it was my turn, I went on through the intersection. As I did I saw a Deputy Sheriff on a motorcycle come onto Somerset and attach himself to my rear bumper. He used no lights or siren. He then accelerated and went over the double line to pass me. He cut sharply back in front of me with less than a car length to spare and braked quickly. I had to apply my brakes hard to keep from hitting him. He turned left onto San Miguel, again without using his turn signal, again as usual.
In both cases it was my action that avoided accidents. Had these officers used their flashing lights, I would gladly have moved over and given them clearance. Instead, they compromised my safety by not-too-smart actions.
I have been told by officers that they don’t always use their lights and sirens because they might panic drivers. Equine-processed hay!! Fire engines and ambulances use their lights and sirens regularly and I don’t see them causing any panic!!
I am growing tired of public safety officers compromising the public safety while hiding behind a badge. On two occasions I have clocked speeding officers – one CHP going 90 MPH on 880 and one deputy going 60 in the 35 MPH zone by Fairmont Hospital. Both times I followed the officers to their respective offices, their destination. When I went in and complained, I was told that they were probably on a call! A call? To where? Their headquarters parking lots?
I frequently see CHP officers and Deputy Sheriffs going by my house – a 25 MPH zone – at speeds close to 50 or more miles per hour with no lights or sirens. We have residents backing out of driveways, we have school children walking here as well as elderly citizens. Do these agencies care? It doesn’t seem so at times.
As I said, I completely support our public safety people. They have a very dangerous job and we would be in big trouble if they weren’t there. But I don’t think it is unreasonable to expect them to use some discretion and not create more dangerous situations than we already have. Please give us some warning and a break!!