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
Originally published at: http://www.shawneedispatch.com/news/2013/oct/02/letter-shawnee-police-should-use-only-marked-cars/