This is a pretty astounding story out of Denver, and your inclination is going to be to get mad at the police officer involved, but you should fight that urge. It isn’t really his fault, and I’ll explain why.
The apparently undisputed facts of this case are as follows: Denver resident Nick Berlin was given a ticket in Adams County, Colorado for having a broken windshield. The truly exceptional part of this story was that the man’s windshield had been broken by vandals the previous day and he was literally pulling into a windshield repair shop where he had a confirmed appointment to get it fixed when he got the ticket:
A day after a vandal had thrown a rock at his windshield, Berlin made an appointment at a local auto glass shop to have it replaced.
Just as he was about to pull into the auto glass shop, an Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy pulled Berlin over and issued him a ticket for an “unsafe vehicle.”
The ticket was issued in the parking lot of Absolute Auto Glass at Broadway and West 64th Avenue on Aug. 19.
9Wants to Know acquired the ticket from the Adams County Sheriff’s Department and reviewed invoices and schedules provided by Absolute Auto Glass.
Records corroborate Berlin’s account of when and where he was issued the ticket and his set appointment at the shop.
The ticket shows the officer wrote up the citation at 3:39 p.m., just minutes after Berlin’s set appointment.
“We were just standing here in our door and were ready for his appointment and all of the sudden we see a cop out there writing the guy a ticket,” shop owner David Sprague said. “We were pretty astounded to think that was what happened.”
Listen, this sort of behavior does not occur in a vacuum. Generally speaking, in the absence of some sort of personal animus, a patrol officer would not have behaved in this way – unless he had some identifiable driving force motivating him to write tickets at all costs. As I’ve written before at some length, police officers are coming under increasing pressures at all levels to act as revenue generators rather than as protectors of the public safety.
After perusing Adams’ County’s budget, it is difficult if not impossible to determine how much of their budget they have allocated specifically to the collection of moving violations but I would be stunned if that were not a number that is constantly going up. The end result is more interactions like this where police are not concerned with protecting anything other than the county’s budget.
Thankfully, this particular confrontation appears to have gone over without further incident other than the indignity of the ticket itself. But in so many other cases, particularly among populations that tend to have pre-existing beliefs that the justice system will not treat them fairly, it doesn’t always go that way, as in the case of Eric Garner – who was killed for the crime of wanting to have his say about being harassed for depriving the city of New York out of several cents of tax revenue.
The fault here is not with the officer, it’s with the city hall and the county executives who regularly put even good officers into impossible positions without regard or thought for how those situations might degenerate or lead to unnecessary violence or disrespect for the law or the agents thereof (their police force). It’s tempting to pad your budget with hidden tax, extracted by the police, but counties and cities that do so face potentially dire consequences down the road that might make the game not worth the candle.