Tuesday, August 11, 2009

11 AUG 09: Pull Over, Pull One Over?

The life of a police officer is seldom easy, even during routine traffic patrols. The Monday evening news showed a man accused of pulling a knife on a Columbus officer during a traffic stop -- only the suspect was shown with a bandage on his forehead. Car roofs apparently are as hard as ever.

We spent part of Monday going over Columbus traffic records. A woman who said she had a "story" for us prompted it....


I was doing some research on the internet and ran across this blogg.Found it very imformative! I'm a Columbus resident and recently had an awful experience with a couple of officers at CPD. On Friday, August 7th at 8:00am I arrives at recorders court to answer to a July traffic citation.

I was pulled over on July 3rd at around 10:40 am by this officer who introduced himself to me as officer [X....] He struck me as a pleasant, attractive young officer, was very nice, even struck up a conservation with me. Well after he issued me a citation for apparently violating the "move over law" he was on his way. I looked behind me and saw him drive away.

After I called and found out how much the citation was I decided right there I had to dispute this due to no knowledge of such a law nor did i really feel I should be charged with this violation. So, on Friday morning I show up and sit in the courtroom awaiting my name to be called. I don't see the officer anywhere, I think maybe he won't show. Well after about 20 minutes he shows up. After several more minutes, I see him walk out of the court room. I think...hmm, is he coming back? Well he didn't.

Here comes the strange part. I was called by the clerk lady to the front, still no officer. After Judge Cilenski reads my violation, I glance to my side and see this stalky little officer standing there with papers in front of him. Well, this officer who has began reading my charge and stating HIS facts about that morning he pulled me over, I get this awful gut wrenching feeling that somethings going on.

As the judge asks me how I would like to plead, I'm standing there in shock! THIS IS NOT THE OFFICER WHO PULLED ME OVER AND WROTE THE CITATION! How can HE testify against me!!?? So i manage to get out the words " sir, this is not the officer who pulled me over". This judge looks at the officer and says " did you yourself pull this lady over"? "YES" states the officer after looking me dead in the eye with a smirk on his flushed little face.

I again say to the Judge " this is NOT the officer sir". A frustrated and aggraveted judge looks at me and asks if i have my ticket then? Yes sir, "It's in my purse" I immediately get the ticket out and hand it to the deputy for the judge. The judge looks at me and says THIS IS THE OFFICER ON THE TICKET LADY"!

NO IT"S NOT! I described the officer and tell the judge that he already left the courtroom! The judge yells at me and tells me im fined $710, left to eat the points on my liscense,then they take me back in the holding area to pay. By now I'm in tears and can't control my emotions. WHAT IS GOING ON!? This can't be happening! I had no choice but to plead guilty to the charge and pay a hefty fine after ticking this judge off. I felt so HAD!

A couple of deputy's say they remember the officer in the room and that he DID walk out! OK....I'M NOT CRAZY!!!! They proceed to look for him and he has apparently left. Then walks back another female who is concerned and asks me what the officers name on my ticket is. I pull out my ticket again and we compare names. IT'S THE SAME OFFICER!! She say's this officer didn't pull me over either! It was YOUR officer!

What the H**K is going on at CPD! I myself had a long lived dream to become one of columbus's finest, went to college and earned my degree. I have experienced little bits of corruption here and there with CPD but this takes the cake!!!!

How can one officer impersonate another officer with ticket writing!? Was he trying to help with quotas, I'm shocked, hurt and flabergasted. I know it sounds crazy but I've experienced my first nightmare of a CPD officer pulling me over and relived the whole experience, waking up in a sweat!

I have filed a formal complaint with CPD, called the Mayors office, the DA, and plan to file a civil suit against CPD with everything it takes in me!

How can we as citizen's be upheld to the laws if some of our "finest" are breaking them right in front of our faces! I think Columbus should know! Citizens should be aware and make sure they aren't being taken advantage of by the legal system. (if you post this...please leave out the officer's name).


Nicky Peters

We'll get to Nicky's court trip, but we should start at the top. Yes, Georgia has a "move-over law." It went statewide early last year -- and I recall it receiving TV news coverage in Columbus when that happened. Some people probably wish the "move-over law" would expand to include movie theatres.

The Georgia law (also in effect in Alabama) says drivers must move over one lane, if an emergency vehicle is stopped along the roadside. If traffic does not allow you to move over, you must slow down. This rule is designed to keep emergency workers safe - and allows you to be a better witness, if an officer decides to beat someone senseless.

But there's an old phrase when it comes to court cases: ignorance of the law is no excuse. So claiming a lack of knowledge of the move-over law probably wouldn't have gained Nicky much in Recorder's Court. And to not "really feel I should be charged" - well, the Muscogee County Jail is probably full of suspects who feel the same way.

Of course, the "strange part" of Nicky's trip to Recorder's Court is her main issue here. But I'm not sure why she wants me to leave out the name of the police officer -- especially when it's in the court record, and she's talking about a lawsuit. Perhaps she's concerned the officer might be offered a promotion, for enforcing the law....

Our review of Recorder's Court records found Nicky was among at least nine people who appeared last Friday morning, to answer tickets by "Officer X." He stopped five drivers for move-over violations, four more for speeding -- and I saw NO case where anyone was accused of impersonating an officer.

We wanted to talk to some of the other alleged scofflaws cited by Officer X. But several of them lacked listed phone numbers -- and a woman with a listed number in Manchester didn't return our message. We tried to explain she was NOT under suspicion, and we are NOT affiliated with Ken Nugent offering "big bucks."

We also called the Columbus Police Department's Patrol Division Monday to ask about this story. Major Julius Graham told us he was in a conference, and he took our number - but he never called us back. That call may come today, after the usual criminal background check....

In a short conversation, Major Julius Graham indicated an officer does NOT have to appear in Recorder's Court if a suspect had to post bond. In this case, that didn't happen. Nicky Peters had to pay up to avoid having her 30-day suspended sentence.... well, uh.... I guess the suspension might have been suspended.

One question I have involves the circumstances of this ticket. Based on Nicky Peters's e-mail and the information we learned Monday, this seems to have been a holiday weekend highway crackdown. If officers worked as a team, could one appear in court on behalf of the others? You know, like winning the Oscar for Best Picture?

It might not make Nicky Peters feel any better, but an online petition drive is underway to reduce the $500 fine for violating Georgia's move-over law. Trouble is, only about 20 people have signed it since Memorial Day - and the petition deadline passed two years ago. Perhaps the people have spoken, and they're driving in the left lane.

With 100 new police officers hitting the streets of Columbus, all of us might do well to brush up on our traffic rules. For one thing, make sure your turn lights are working. Of course, this will be no problem for some drivers - because the turn-light test might be the first time they've actually used one.

P.S. When we stopped by the Recorder's Court Clerk's office, we were surprised to find jail inmates cleaning inside - during the lunch hour. There's a clear difference between this courthouse and the one where Judge John Allen works....

BLOG UPDATE: A check of today's Columbus Council agenda shows a couple of curious things. A commendation for "Thunder on the Hooch" will be given to WTVM General Manager Lee Brantley. After what he said on the air about the proposed Crime Prevention Director, don't be surprised if one of his assistants shows up to accept it.

But WTVM's Monday night news indicated Mayor Jim Wetherington may not demand a vote on the Crime Prevention Director today after all. He said some Columbus Council members still have questions and concerns. Hmmmm - would the Police Department like to learn from the School Board, and schedule some furlough days?

Today's agenda includes a handwritten proposal from Councilor Glenn Davis, with his own ideas for a Crime Prevention Director. It says the pay grade should be lowered, the department should NOT be "quazi-governmental" - and the director's qualifications should include skills in public speaking. After all, that director may have to defend his budget before Council often....

It also happens that Bert Coker and Paul Olson are on the "public agenda" today. But the only tax they plan to discuss is a sales tax exemption on vehicles and car dealers. C'mon now - aren't these conservative folks supposed to like Rob Doll?

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. People from around the world are visiting "On the Flop!" <--

OVERHEARD OVER HERE: A young woman is doing business at a Columbus post office on a credit card. When she's given her receipt, she's surprised to learn no signature is necessary.

"If it's under 25, we don't require a signature," the postal worker explains.

"That's good, because I'm under 25."

Let's see what else might have had people talking Monday:

+ The Ledger-Enquirer reported Colin Martin is giving up the special campaign for State House. The reason: his teenage daughter broke both legs, while training for cross-country season. So if she can't run, he can't either?!

+ The new school year opened across East Alabama. Wacoochee Junior High School students returned to a cafeteria damaged by the February tornado. I presume no cotton candy will be served there for awhile - because students might think it's mixed with insulation.

+ The Muscogee County School Athletic Director told Dick McMichael's blog the proposed school sales tax could pay for artificial turf at Kinnett Stadium. Why would this require tax money? Simply recycle the old carpeting, when Carver High School is torn down.

(Dr. Gary Gibson also wants a new sports stadium built on open land along Martin Luther King Boulevard. He envisions something small, for events which don't draw big crowds - which means Jordan High School finally can have a true home football field.)

+ Richard Hyatt's web site confirmed Georgia football broadcasts are moving away from WRCG, and will be on WGSY "Sunny 100." Maybe this will convince Larry Munson to come out of retirement - since Sunny 100 is known for those "Totally 80's" weekends.

(After six decades of Bulldog broadcasts, WRCG apparently will have to settle for carrying Georgia Southern games this fall. Uga Ugh - is that the best they can do? At least LaGrange and Tuskegee broadcasts might have a chance to reach those campuses.)

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