Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Teaching The Cops The Law

After far to long off the bike due to the crud that's goin' around, I rode north on Sunday for a nice easy spin.

Little did I know that I would get "buzzed" by johnny law. It was a Brookfield cop on Pilgrim Rd at Burliegh. It wasn't the worst buzz I've ever gotten, but hey it was a cop, they are supposed to know better, right? Well we know that's not always the case. Notice that there was also oncoming traffic at the time he made the pass. Um officer, that too is against the law. But so is passing a cyclist closer than 3 feet.
So I called and talked to a Sergeant, who, after my repeated explanations of the incident, asked me why I kept referring to 3 feet. He wanted to know if there was something in the law that specified 3 feet. I told him which statute it was and asked that he inform this officer as well as the other officers under his control about the statute.

I decided to follow up with the Chief on Monday, but he was on vacation so I talked to the Assistant Chief. I brought him up to speed on this incident and he said he would look into it. He called back a few minutes later to inform me that the statute he found only referred to bikes having to give 3 feet of clearance when passing someone. I told him the proper statute and he then agreed to inform his officers of the law that, even he and his Sergeant were unaware existed.

Are police officers not trained before they become police officers? Do they not at least need a basic understanding of the laws they are sworn to enforce. I could understand if they said, "oh yeah that 3 foot statute, I think I remember that, let me double check." But to almost universally hear, " is there some statute that says 3 feet?" just boggles the mind.

Good Lord people, this isn't some obscure law prohibiting spitting on the sidewalk on Sundays, it's part of the basic traffic laws. And even the police are breaking this law.
I plan to follow up with the Chief when he gets back from vacation, let's just hope until then the Brookfield Police Department gets a better understanding of the law.


scott said...

so what did the chief say?

Anonymous said...

As a whole I don't think people are educated well in terms of driving with types of transportation outside of cars and trucks in general. For instance drivers ed programs in areas without train tracks brush over train crossings in 2 minutes top but if in a farming community they certainly cover what to do in the event of farming equipment on the road. Bikes were not cover in drivers ed when I took it a number of years ago, primary because outside of parks bikes were not used (northern wisconsin) with the only exception being if there was race in which case roads or lanes ended up being closed to separate the traffic.