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Interview With Veteran South Beach Traffic Cop

Interview With Veteran South Beach Traffic Cop

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Published by davidwalters
South Beach Traffic has gone Plumb Crazy
South Beach Traffic has gone Plumb Crazy

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Published by: davidwalters on Jan 11, 2012
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12/22/2012

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MIAMI MIRROR ² TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 
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INTERVIEW WITH VETERAN SOUTH BEACH TRAFFIC COP
The Traffic is Plumb Crazy
January 11, 2012By David Arthur WaltersTHE MIAMI MIRROR MIAMI BEACH²I buttonholed veteran Miami Beach traffic cop Alan Chin at Starbucks onWest Avenue, where he meets regularly with other motorcycle cops to discuss the business of theday. Some people think cops are goofing off when seen in coffee houses, but that was not thecase when I listened in on their discussion. They were not even drinking coffee, which all copsare supposed to love, so I was attempted to offer to buy them some, but then thought it would beinappropriate.³Excuse me, Officer Chin,´ I said after reading his nametag, ³What is that wheel-like emblem onyour shirts?´³It means that we are in the motor unit.´³You¶re a traffic cop?´
 
MIAMI MIRROR ² TRUE REFLECTIONS 
 
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³Yes, for sixteen years.´³Do the cops in the squad cars also give traffic tickets?´³Well, yes, they can, but we do most of the citations. We provide escorts, say, for inaugurations,and crowd control services, and we have other duties besides, so we are not always out citingtraffic violations.´³Is it true that the regular cops in the cars do not like traffic duty, and think it is beneath them?´³It can be a hassle for them. They are out there
responding 
to calls and going after the bad guys.We are more
 proactive
, stopping all kinds of people²residents, tourists²it could be anyone.´³But your job is just as dangerous?´ I suggested. ³I hear about a cop being murdered on a trafficstop almost every month.´³Yes, that¶s true. And if you noticed me leave and come back a few minutes ago, I went downthe block to respond to an alarm at the bank.´³So you could have encountered an armed robber?´³Yes, but it was a false alarm.´³I¶ve been writing about traffic issues lately. There are accidents all over the side streets, andmany people are getting run over on Alton Road. You know, pedestrians and cyclists are scaredto death by the crazy traffic, especially around Alton Road. Old folks and even young merchantsand their employees around there tell me they are afraid to leave their blocks on foot to get asandwich.´³Yes, Alton is a raceway,´ he observed. ³We periodically attempt to educate the public. Officersgo out on the street in special uniforms, gather at certain places, where they do what they can to bring the public¶s attention to the problem and educate drivers as to what they can do about it.´³I saw a driver nearly run over a woman carrying a baby in her arms in the crosswalk by theSouthpointe charter school on Alton.´³We watch that place during certain hours.´³You used to have a decoy there.´³Yes, but drivers got wise to it, knowing there was nobody inside.´³Maybe you could put a dummy in it that moves around. Do you believe handing out tickets likecandy will help educate the public?´³No, not at all,´ he said. ³I¶ve been a traffic cop for sixteen years, and let me tell you that ticketsdo not stop the violations.´
 
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³I don¶t drive, but I have heard people complaining about getting a ticket, and swearing they willnever do it again,´ I argued. ³I figure each person that gets a ticket will tell a hundred people.´³Oh, that will wear off, and they will do it again and again. We stop the same people around herefor the same violations.´³The problem with careless driving seems to be getting worse and worse,´ I offered. ³Iassociated it in one of my articles with what I call massive narcissism, with drivers so self-interested they stop looking out for others.´³It is getting worse,´ he confirmed. ³Drivers tend to think of their cars as their private homeswhere they can do what they please.´³How many motorcycle traffic cops are there?´³Fourteen²seven on one shift, seven on the other; remember that we have other duties.´³Do you believe that is enough?´³There never are enough officers, but there are enough violations out there that each additionalunit could bring in far more revenue than it costs. We could make the city a lot of money. Howmany we have depends on the administration.´³One of my pet peeves with the city manager, when he was negotiating with the police union, isthat he would have people believe that the major crime index should indicate what our lawenforcement needs are, but that is not even half the story.´³That is something we learn to put up with.´³Thank you very much for speaking with me,´ I said gratefully. ³It is good to have the benefit of experience.´³We meet here, as you know, so feel free to communicate with us.´I was pleased to meet Officer Chin, and thought that it would be great if all police officers wereas communicative in the interest of public education. There may be some characteristicdifference between pro-active traffic cops, who deal with everyone, and reactive cops, whoroutinely respond to the offenses of bad guys. Still, the three best ways to elicit mutually beneficial information and eliminate misunderstandings is to communicate, communicate, andcommunicate.

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