Archive for Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Letter: Shawnee police should use only marked cars

October 2, 2013

Why is Shawnee regularly using unmarked police vehicles for routine traffic duty? Is it to catch drivers committing violations or to promote traffic safety? In either case, studies show marked cars accomplish both objectives just as well, if not better.

When drivers see a marked police car, they instinctively slow down and refocus on driving safely, and the city knows it.

If the objective is to not be “seen” by drivers, this can be effectively realized by using fully marked cars without the giveaway lights on the roof. This solves two problems: Speeding drivers can’t readily identify these vehicles on roadways, and the officer’s credentials are never in question.

The use of unmarked vehicles for traffic stops has produced unintended, and very tragic, results. People become so accustomed to seeing unmarked vehicles employed in traffic duty that they instinctively pull over for any vehicle behind them with flashing lights. In Mississippi, two people were gunned down on roads by a police impersonator, who, it appears, used a fake unmarked police vehicle to pull over his unsuspecting victims.

This practice smacks of coercion and intimidation, and makes ordinary citizens feel they are living in a police state. Our police should “serve and protect,” but when they employ such tactics, respect turns to resentment.

In a free society, routine police duties should be done with full transparency, free of deception and intimidation, utilizing only equipment and uniforms that unmistakably identify them.

Ask yourself: Do I feel safer in Shawnee having a daughter or grandmother pulled over by an unmarked vehicle? Let your council person know.

-- David D. Morris, Shawnee


CCShawnee 5 years, 1 month ago

David, no disrespect, but WHAT??

Unfortunately the crime rate in this town has gone up quite a bit in the past 14 months or so, including violent crimes. The city, any city, needs unmarked police cars to conduct various duties of the police force. Have you considered the fact that a police station runs on a budget, a fixed budget, and they must operate within it. I'd bet that the use of marked or unmarked cars is soley due to the use of available assets, nothing more. An officer assigned to squad 1, unmarked, has numerous duties throughout the day which may include transport, school talks, traffic, and call pickup. Do you propose that that officer go back to the station eachtime they conduct a different duty?

So, lets get past the budget and efficiency logic, or logic all together, and go back into your comment about marked versus unmarked. In a radar situation, the police have a car's speed clocked in most cases at least 150 to 200 feet way. If drivers aren't smart enough to figure out that a caprice classic or chevy impala parked on the shoulder is probably a cop, then....ticket. By the time you pass a squad or come close enough to figure out that it isn't marked, they've been clocked already.

Onto your next point, how exactly is the use of an unmarked care any more or less intimidating than a marked cruiser? It isn't, unless you have something to hide, then the onus of there being an unmarked car in the area may act as more of a deterrent than anything else.

Lastly, your comment "This practice smacks of coercion and intimidation, and makes ordinary citizens feel they are living in a police state. " HUH? coercion and intimidation? How? How is an unmarked car coercion? How does it intimidate? It doesn't. Speak for yourself here, as you are entitled to your opinion. But once you speak for ordinary citizens, be prepared to hear from a few that don't agree with you, like me.

The police and fire departments in this town are among the best I've seen, having lived in 3 different states and 7 different towns, that is saying something. They work long hours and take risks that "ordinary citizens" may not comprehend, or others, like yourself, may be too ignorant to understand and thus spend their time knocking them instead of either supporting them or keeping their opinions to themselves.

Have a great day!


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