Chicago Sun-Times

The Cranky Commuter #3

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Today's cranky commuter topic -- when the police don't follow traffic laws.

A lot of readers say they get angry when they see a squad car blowing through a red light, without using his sirens. I've also gotten several reader letters about illegal parking when the officers are not responding to an emergency, but going to breakfast. Why is this OK? Aren't police officers, like parents, supposed to set a good example for us civilians?

Chicago Police Department spokeswoman Monique Bond explained to me that officers are exempt from traffic rules like stopping at red lights and stop signs when they're on duty, because they're on patrol and have to keep moving. "For a number of reasons tactically, they should be mobile and continuing to move whenever necessary," Bond said. She said even when it's not an obvious emergency which requires sirens and lights, patrol cars are constantly hearing calls over their radios, and need to move quickly.

Bond said patrol cars aren't supposed to do anything that would impede public safety, like parking at fire hydrants.

What do you think? Should the police be allowed to disregard stop signs when they're on patrol, as long as they're safe about it?

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I don't have much of an issue with police going through lights on the way to calls, but I'm tired of seeing police leave their cars parked illegally (in front of hydrants, on the corner at intersections, occasionally halfway up on the sidewalk). These guys are on meal breaks, not on calls. Everyone else has to park legally, why is it so tough for the CPD?
On the other hand, I do see a lot of officers that are careful and considerate. It's probably a few guys making the rest look bad.

While there needs to be consideration in order to ensure the police are able to do their jobs, there is no excuse for cruising through a red light when headed back to the station at end of shift, nor is there any reason for overweight cops to illegally park so they can hit Dunkin' Donuts.

Both actions I've observed here in the Near South Loop.

Monique Bond is a complete idiot. Police and other emergency vehicles have the right of way only when the lights are flashing. That's driver ed 101. C'mon, Monique, show us the law that exempts them from driving in accordance with the laws. I for one would love to take a hit and sue them. Moeny in the bank!

Yes, I agree that they should be allowed to break traffic rules.

I am not wanting my tax dollars taken from me and paid to people to be like my 'parents'. Who even thinks of that? Are you still in Jr. High?

I do not need to live in a nanny state; I am an adult and I will act like one.

How about you?

Ridiculous column.

I've spent a little time in my line of work observing police vehicles. The amount of technology in place inside a police car is astounding. It's much tougher than turning a key or flipping a switch if the ignition is off. All those computers need to reboot, which takes an unacceptable amount of time and affects public safety. They should never park in front of hydrants. A sudden siren can be a bit alarming to people and might cause more harm than good. I'm told when the police are observing pedestrians or vehicles from a distance, they're often waiting for information to come back to them on the radio or a computer. They may go through a sign or a light, so as not to lose someone they think might be suspect. Is there abuse? Probably. I'm willing to give a little bit of that up if it means they might get to me quicker when I need them. Cut them a little's a tough, tough job.

uhhhh, duh??? If you were a burgular and heard/saw lights and sirens coming towards you - you would run. There are many reasons that the police do what they do. mostly to protect citizens and catch the bad guys. You should be ashamed of yourself for always thinking the worst. Why not critize the fire department for sitting around and doing nothing betewwn calls??? that's just as stupid as your critism of the police. get real.

Imagine: someone breaks in, starts raping you, the neightbors hear something, call the police . . . and now two options, sneak up and catch the guy - or drive up with enough noise that he gets away. your choice.

Mary, you should ask Monique Bond to provide you with legal documentation of this "exemption." We'd love to see it.

I believe police must set an example by abiding by all possible laws. That includes proper parking. In particular, please don't park in my bike lane; I'm using it. Thanks.

On another note, there are now cop cars idling 24-7 throughout downtown, in a two-block circle around the federal building. While I know we must protect our president, cops can manage to start a car in an emergency. Is it worth a full day of spent fuel to save the possibility of two seconds it takes to turn a key in an emergency??? Are city cops even the first line of defense, should such an emergency arise?

We need better governance and accountability in Illinois.

get over it people!!!!!!

I don't think it's safe for the police to keep running lights and stop signs without any sirens or lights alerting those around. Other cars or pedestrians rely on all cars to follow the traffic laws to make safe decisions on when to stop, go, turn, etc.
It is difficult at times to distinguish police cars; many taxis resemble police cars from a distance, especially on days of bad weather. There should be some signal to those around to show that they are getting ready to break the rules, for everyone's safety. Besides, how hard is it for them to flip a switch?

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This page contains a single entry by Mary Wisniewski published on December 19, 2008 11:40 AM.

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