Why do some cops drive like shit?
By Lt. Patrick J. Ciser (Ret.)

Guess I got your attention huh? Many of you know I’m right; we just don’t like to talk about it. But why, and it’s probably a smaller number than it seems, do cops violate so many motor vehicle laws when they are being paid to enforce them? Hey, everyone screws up once in awhile, including me, but let’s have an honest discussion and look inward to correct these character flaws.

Among the general population, there’s always going to be a certain percentage of drivers that consistently violate motor vehicle laws; it’s what they do. Is it because they’re ignorant of the law, arrogant, or both? I used to tell cops under my command that assholes who commit crimes also drive like assholes, because it’s in their DNA, so be sure to pull these idiots over, and you just might find criminal activity afoot. You would think that a smart crook wouldn’t speed away from a robbery and draw a lot of attention. But a lot of these idiots can’t turn their aggressive/arrogant behavior on and off, and they’re probably not going to grow a brain anytime soon. Ignorance of the law is another problem. People take the written driver exam at age 16, and many by the time they're in their 20s are riding the left lane doing 50 mph. Then when you stop them, they claim ignorance of the law. But when they no longer use a blinker, zigzag in and out of traffic, and routinely hit speeds of 90 mph plus, it’s usually arrogance.

But when an off-duty cop, someone who should know better, is imitating a rocket ship after his 1500-2300 shift on Rt. 80 or the Garden State Parkway etc. it’s a problem! I’m not going to mention actual speeds here that were reported to me as the Watch Commander on midnights by irritated State Troopers, but I think you can all imagine what I’m talking about. If it takes me an hour and 15 minutes to get to Seaside Heights, or an hour and a half; what the “bleep” difference does it make? Some people, including cops, crank it up a little when they’re late for work, and this can be a forgivable foible. But do you have to speed leaving work when there’s no time clock to punch, or line-up to attend? Many people drive emotionally, and again, this includes cops!

Cops can’t claim ignorance of the law, as they study traffic laws at the academy. Recognizing that cops are people first, I have to attribute their poor driving habits then to “emotional” driving and/or arrogance. I suggest using your cruise control more often, and set it at a “reasonable” speed. Remember, if you speed excessively with your PBA or FOP Shield in the window, you make us all look bad.

I’ve been involved in more high-speed pursuits than most; 36 in 1992 alone actually, so here’s a tip to the new guys. If you’re sitting on the shoulder of a highway, listening to a chase that’s coming your way, DO NOT! I REPEAT! DO NOT! pull out to get involved until the primary and backup units pass you at warp 6. Now if you see the flashing lights approaching and you want to pull out ahead of time riding the right lane at 60, then go for it. I’ve had cops with limited chase experience pull out on me, and believe me, it’s NOT FUN!

Another quick tip: If you’re arriving at a medical, domestic or other similar call, whatever side of the street the first unit double parks on, that’s the side you need to park on. Just leave enough space between your bumpers that any of you can still pull out quickly and unimpeded. I’ve seen cops all hyped up, block the road and be unable to get out when the “actor” runs from the house and jumps in a car a few doors down. I’ve also seen cops block the street, not allowing an ambulance or fire engine to get through.

And pa’leeease, try to stay off your cellphone while driving. We’re developing a reputation of being hypocrites. Pull into a parking lot if you really need to take a call. Another thing that irritates me is when I see cops pull in a parking space at a diner, rather than back in. Remember, you’re never in a hurry to arrive, but you might be in a hurry to leave. Be safe out there!

Pat Ciser is a retired lieutenant from the Clifton Police Department, and a 7th Degree Black Belt. He was a member of 5 U.S. Karate Teams, winning gold medals in South America and Europe. He is the Author of BUDO and the BADGE; Exploits of a Jersey Cop (BN.com/Amazon), and is a guest writer for Official Karate Magazine.