Ask the Motor Cop | Officers setting an example of safety


Question: Hi Jerry. How great it would be if police officers and other public safety individuals use their turn signals and set a good example for all other drivers. 

— Gary 

Answer: Gary, what can I say. You have all the right to expect drivers of police vehicles to set an example regarding safe driving. Drivers of police vehicles are subject to the same rules of the road as anyone else. 

After motor school, I attended a rigorous vehicle code course so as to be prepared to satisfactorily enter the streets of Los Angeles and enforce our traffic laws. 

During that course, it was drilled into us that we should set a good example for others while working our beat. But I hope you can understand that, on occasion, there are situations whereby that officer is preoccupied responding to lifesaving situations and communicating with the dispatcher while looking for addresses or locations. 

As a motor officer, I might observe a traffic violation or a suspected DUI and I am now making an effort to initiate a stop. I may be making numerous turns and lane changes while not signaling. In these cases, it would be unreasonable for me to signal all the time and, I would hope, not expected. 

How about this: A true story and this is firsthand. Before applying for motors, I was working patrol in a black-and-white in North Hollywood Division. I had just requested (Code 7) “dinner,” at a location close to a bank on Laurel Canyon Boulevard. Communications came back, “15A67, continue patrol and handle this call. A 211 in progress at the Bank of America on Laurel Canyon. Your call is Code 3.” Note: A 211 is a robbery in progress and a Code 3 means red lights and siren. Upon arrival, I received from communications, “15A67 Code 4 and OK 7.” (Code 4 means “no further assistance needed.”) 

Can you imagine what people observed? Be advised that I am the center of attention with my red lights and siren activated only to shut it down, pull into a restaurant, exit my black-and-white, and I walk into that restaurant. I would imagine that people still talk about this today and what they observed. But they didn’t understand the chain of events that led up to this. 

Maybe this might offer some understanding, Gary. Otherwise, I agree with you. 

Continue to drive carefully.  

Jerry Schlund, a Santa Clarita Valley resident, is a retired Los Angeles Police Department motor officer with over 24 years riding. He was a certified radar instructor — both laser and doppler — and was instrumental in California vehicle code amendments. He was a traffic school instructor for 25 years. Have a question for the motor cop? Send your questions to [email protected] 

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