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Not just “because we can” July 20, 2010

Posted by southbendpolice in Feature Stories.

I overheard a woman talking the other day to another male at a restaurant while I was off duty and the part that perked my ear up was “and this COP was driving about 80 and flew by me with no siren or nothing”.. She assumed that the cop must have been driving that way for no reason, or ‘because they (we) can’.

There is a perception amongst the civilian public that just because police officers are driving ‘fast’ without our lights and or sirens in emergency mode operation that we are driving that way because we want to. Truth is, driving that way is dangerous to everyone, us included, and for the most part, we are not just driving that way because I have nothing better to do when working…. or off duty.

The calls that police officers get are dynamic, and many times officers respond with a minimum of information. Most often police are responding to back one another up. Officers make dozens of traffic stops in a day in this city, and while most stops do not require us to back one another up by running lights and siren, it is critical that we are able to arrive quickly and safely. As an example, rpr. Randy Vetter of the Texas DPS was murdered on a traffic stop August 7th 2000 after stopping a man for a seatbelt violation.. The dash cam video is on the internet. If you take the time to watch, from the time of stop until the man brandishes and fires shots with his rifle is TWELVE seconds.

Other times, we are responding to burglar alarms at residences, or businesses. If someone was breaking into your home do you want the police to arrive in 2 minutes or in 10? Telegraphing “police are coming” from several blocks away with sirens blaring and lights blazing can have a detrimental effect to the criminal deciding to stay inside and be captured on the scene.

There are many many more situations that I can go on about, but the point is that if people see officers driving fast, please consider the circumstances. When someone calls 911 and states that someone is physically hurting or trying to kill them (usually in a very frantic manner), those calls have to be taken very seriously. Admittedly, and unfortunately, many times it is not as bad as what the caller had stated initially in the phone call to 911, but on the other hand sometimes it is.

So help arriving 30 seconds to a minute earlier could mean the difference between life and death. Every second counts when it comes to emergencies whether it be medical or criminal.

As a further P.S. to the post, please remember to yield the right of way to police/fire/EMS vehicles any time you see lights or hear sirens. It’s the law. Do so by immediately pulling over to the right side of the curb as possible. including one way streets.

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