Enough With The Anti-CHP Rhetoric

In response to so many letters to the editor of Feather Publishing newspapers…

CHP Shoulder PatchCan we finish up with the complaints about our local California Highway Patrol real soon, please? It’s getting tiresome and some of you are sounding like whiners. Really. Because there have been so few cheering for the CHP, allow me.

I’ve been driving the roads of Plumas County most of my adult life. That totals around 12 thousand days I’ve spent behind the wheel of a car, truck or motorcycle just here in Plumas County. For much of that time, I did floors all over Plumas 5, 6 and sometimes 7 days a week, which adds up to a heck of a lot of driving miles. I’m not the best driver and I don’t always follow every law, so consequently, I’ve been stopped by officers on a number of occasions through all these years.

Not once in my 44 year driving history, here and elsewhere, was I ever stopped because I didn’t do something wrong. Every single time I was doing something I shouldn’t have, something that endangered myself or others. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I forget that I don’t really have as much control behind the wheel of a three or four thousand pound vehicle as I think I do. I do like to think I don’t need many reminders, but when I do, the CHP is there to do just that.

My last ticket was about 3 years ago. Speeding – driving too fast while towing a trailer. It broke a personal best of 16 years without a ticket. I was upset because I felt I was driving safe. But the cop did his job because I wasn’t doing mine.

Even though there was a very long span between tickets, I had been stopped for infractions on a number of occasions. I firmly believe it was my attitude and demeanor that saved me from tickets I so deserved. I was not always aware of what law I broke, but I always knew when I was wrong. Infractions were always explained to me and I never denied committing any of them. As a professional in a different field of work, I knew that this professional prob’ly knew better than me. The customer is NOT always right. My feeling is that being humble and willing to learn from someone who knows better, saved me money, time and very well could have saved me or someone else from harm. I have always been grateful for warnings. After a little wound-licking, I have even found gratitude in a couple of real scoldings (I remember thinking once, please, just write me a ticket instead).

My preferred transportationThings are a little different for me now. I spend more hours on my “handicap device” than I do behind the wheel of my car. I know I stick out like a sore thumb (it’s actually sore lungs) gliding around wherever I can on my Segway – standing straight up, seemingly balanced precariously between 2 wheels. But as visible as a 260 pound, 6′ 8″ man on two fat tires is, I can’t tell you how many auto drivers just don’t see me. California Vehicle Code considers me a pedestrian, which means I have to follow the rules any other pedestrian follows – and cars are s’posed to regard me as a pedestrian too, but they don’t always.

I rely on law enforcement, particularly the California Highway Patrol, to protect me because drivers don’t always know to let me glide across the street in the cross-walk or otherwise give me the right-of-way as they would any other pedestrian. My complaints are with drivers who don’t look carefully before entering an intersection. I don’t like it when people park right on the sidewalk. I don’t like it when drivers flip me off for gliding on the left side of the roadway, toward oncoming traffic.

I am where I should be, most of the time, and I try hard to follow the rules because my chosen mode of transportation is unconventional. That isn’t to say I want everyone to get a ticket for not letting me use the cross-walk, but I do appreciate that the CHP is there to let you know my rights and keep me and other mobility impaired people safe.

We should support our law enforcement and stop with the public ridicule. They aren’t politicians, they are men and women doing a very difficult job – not even to mention the enormous risk to health and life they face. No doubt they make mistakes, as do we all. I don’t know what I would have done if anyone had written to the editor about a bad carpet seam or a gap I left in the hardwood. A phone call is what it took to make those things right and I suspect that’s what might work when you feel an officer has done their job poorly.

If you feel changes to the laws and policies are in order, then take it up in the appropriate manner. Save those stories about your woes at the hands of lawless law men and women for your friends and associates that enjoy hearing them. Everyone likes a good cop joke, but this recent CHP bash-fest isn’t entertaining at all.

Let’s try to make the patrol officer’s job easier by practicing better driving habits. Report drunk drivers, call about road hazards and take a little responsibility to help make our roads and highways safer, cleaner and more fun to travel. And let those patrol men and women know you appreciate their helping your time on the road to be safer – give them a wave.

Jim McClain

Born 1949 and not dead yet.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. concerned citizen

    i have to say you are partaily correct. There are some great CHPS in Plumas however there is a particular cocky and self imposed bully that cruises the canyon. I recently heard of a young chp harrasing a traffic control person on Rush Creek. The person was doing there job as contractually required the bully cop skidded to the person and treated them like a criminal. In fact he the told the person they had jurisdiction on a county road. It was utter harassement. This crew cutted sunglass wearing rookie needs to take his cocky attitude back to the valley where he belongs. The police are public servants and need to treat citizens performing there job which was contractually required and permited by the government in a polite and civil manner. This officer has given another black eye to the agency.

    1. Jim McClain

      Thanks for your comments, SML. I’m not so sure the officer was wrong about having jurisdiction though. I was forced to call the CHP last year regarding a persistent problem with a person blocking access to safe passage around a street corner to anyone using a mobility aide. It wasn’t a concrete sidewalk, but it was a common path. I felt it especially dangerous because the corner was blind because of trees and a telephone pole. In order to make the corner on a mobility device, I had to maneuver into oncoming traffic.

      When the officer arrived, he said the vehicle did not break any traffic ordinances, but he could speak with them. This was not the highway, it was a residential area in Quincy. He does in fact have jurisdiction and I think they may also have jurisdiction on other county roads. To be sure, of course, a call could be made to the local CHP office in Quincy to ask for a definitive answer.

      I am not defending the officer you speak of. Whether or not the Highway Patrol officer had jurisdiction, his business with the traffic controller should have been handled professionally. There’s no way to know the whole story here because it involves 2 people who have not been heard in this regard. I believe the best course of action for anyone experiencing a problem with any law enforcement officer is to speak with that officer’s supervisor – and continue up the chain of command until someone is found that can help resolve the issue best.

      Thanks again for your comments.

  2. ed ferguson

    Plumas CHP officers are parking outside restaurants and bars at night and stopping anyone who drives away. No probable cause, if you walk out of a restaurant or a bar you’re it..
    If you’ve had a drink you’re most likely going to jail. It didn’t used to be like this. What are the CHP planning to do when all our restaurants and bars are gone? Nothing much has happened to these officers for violating the 4th amendment on a daily bases. I don’t understand how they’re getting away with this.

    1. Jim McClain

      This has not been my experience, Ed. I’m not saying it has never happened, or that it won’t happen, but I believe it is a rare occurrence. When a driver is .08 or more, they SHOULD go to jail. I would rather die from my lung disease than from someone who doesn’t know when not to drive.

      Thanks for commenting on this article.

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