Sunday, September 27, 2009

A short-lived vigilante


In thinking back over my 24 hours of feeling like a vigilante, my greatest frustration was not being able to find anyone official to turn the problem driver over to. It wasn’t that I really wanted to personally enforce the law.

This raises the issue of whether citizens should or should not be involved in keeping the law. I’m sure you’ve seen your share of crazy drivers where you say to yourself, “That’s an accident waiting to happen.” There never seems to be a policemen in the vicinity when you need one. What if you had an easy way of reporting such a vehicle?

Is this something I’d want to subject myself to? I can tell you right now that if I knew people were watching me, it would have the same effect as the presence of those candid cameras I keep encountering. I would definitely become a better driver.

There’s the certainty that some people would use this as a means of ratting out their enemies. That means there would be some false reporting.

But the bigger issue is what law enforcement could possibly do with this information, most probably legitimate. Is there any way it could legally be used to prevent accidents? Or is this just another case of not being able to act until a crime is committed?

I’m always reminded of my orientation training at the FBI (the job in which I spent the first 3 months of my working life), where they actually encouraged us to report on each other, which I found repulsive. So I suppose I’ve just answered my own question. This is not a case where anyone could be immune. So now I’ll just go back to minding my own business on the road.

4 Comments:

Blogger Steve said...

I think it makes sense to report someone if they're posing an immediate danger and you can contact the cops right away. I think reporting significantly loses its value when it's after the fact.

4:37 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

Gee, I thought honking was the way it is done in the Nation's Capitol. We drove from Delaware several days ago, had to find our hotel in Ballston, then return the rental car to Reagan airport. I was honked at several times because I was not driving fast enough to suit those behind me! Trying to find one's way in a strange city is hairy enough without the added pressure. We got very lost, but eventually accomplished both tasks and breathed an enormous sigh of relief once we were rid of the car. God Bless the Metro!

And yes, you must come to the NW!

6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm belatedly catching up w/the Big Bad Truck story... I think the most beneficial thing TO DO (if something Must Be Done) is to not potentially aggravate the driver, but rather call 911 as it's happening and report a "reckless driver" (or intoxicated, or...), ideally with the make, color, license plate #, and location/direction of the offending vehicle, and a description of the driver. I've made such calls maybe a dozen times in 20 years in the metro/urban area where I live, and have never been told by the dispatchers that I was wasting their time, and I felt some satisfaction in knowing I'd done what I reasonably could, and just maybe helped the people who do this for a living catch someone before they really hurt someone. Do be careful, B!

F.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I can imagine the frustration and anger, knowing you can't really do anything and feeling intimidated by someone else, especially someone else in a big black truck with tinted windows. I'm sorry you had to go through it.

3:37 PM  

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