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Traffic stop: Harassment or good police work? - The Galveston County Daily News: Guest Columns

August 26, 2016

Traffic stop: Harassment or good police work?

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Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 12:15 am

On June 4, I flew into William P. Hobby Airport in Houston and returned home around 9:30 p.m.

To my surprise, I was not very sleepy and around 12:30 a.m., I walked through the living room where my 14-year-old son, Joseph, was lying on the couch.

I did not make a big deal about him being up late since it’s summertime.

Matter of fact, to his surprise I asked, “Joseph, would you like to go to IHOP?”

He replied, “Yes sir,” and we made our way.

We enjoyed our meal and one-on-one time.

On the way home, I happened to see a police officer at the light on Lake Road by the Valero in La Marque.

For some reason, I had a bad feeling.

As I traveled down Main, I asked Joseph if he had his seat belt on, which he did.

I watched for the police car in my side and rearview mirrors.

Sure enough, the police car pulled up behind me, rode behind me for a few seconds and then turned on his lights.

I turned onto a street to get off the main road and pulled over.

The officer then shined a bright light toward my vehicle, asked me for my license and insurance.

He informed me that I was stopped because my license plate light was out.

He then went through a series of questions about where was I going, did I have drugs, weapons or alcohol and on and on.

I informed him that I had been traveling out of town and just returned back tonight.

My son and I had been to IHOP and we were heading home.

I also told him I had a feeling he would stop me from the time I saw him at the light by Valero.

He then said that I was driving 48 in a 40.

I doubt I was driving 48, but the side of the road is not the place to debate that issue.

After a few more comments and questions, I finally said, “Sir, you can write me a ticket and I will pay it or take defensive driving or you can give me a warning.”

He said OK and walked back to his car, where by this time another police car had arrived for backup.

He returned with my license and gave me a verbal warning plus a statement that all police officers are not bad.

I want to believe him, but my past experiences with the police have not always been good.

His passive-aggressive approach with his line of questioning bothered me.

When I checked my license plate lights, they both were working.

Was it harassment or was it just good police work?

Was it my perception of what happened or is it my reality?

Before sending this column to the newspaper, I checked my license plate lights again and the left one was out.

Maybe the police officer is right — they are not all bad.