More Malfeasance from VA Beach Police

No one likes getting a ticket. But there are times when the injustice involved should be an issue for everyone. Such is the case for a traffic ticket my daughter was given on Nov. 11 of this year.  At issue is Section 46.2-921.1 which requires drivers passing a stopped emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights to give way by changing lanes when possible. This is a reasonable regulation, one of the major dangers traffic policemen face is being struck by a car while tending to their duties. But, like many laws, its purpose can be perverted by a lazy or corrupt officer. Such is the case in VA Beach. Officer S. M. Stein of the Virginia Beach Police is making a regular practice of obstructing traffic in order to cause careful drivers to violate this law to avoid a hazard. My daughter’s incident was as follows:

On Nov. 11, she was driving East on Northhampton BV, slowing to exit on Independence BV South. Immediately in front of the exit ramp, Officer Stein was parked on the shoulder with his rooftop lights flashing. There was no other car stopped.

Being aware of the law’s requirements, but also aware that changing lanes would have required her to exit from the middle lane, with the risk that, as she was slowing for the exit, other cars behind her might pull alongside her on the right and a collision could result, she continued to slow and pulled as far over as possible without changing lanes, leaving ample clearance so that if the officer opened his door and exited, she would still pass him safely.

The law states:

  • (i) on a highway having at least four lanes, at least two of which are intended for traffic proceeding as the approaching vehicle, proceed with caution and, if reasonable, with due regard for safety and traffic conditions, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change into a lane not adjacent to that occupied by the stationary emergency vehicle or (ii) if changing lanes would be unreasonable or unsafe, proceed with due caution and maintain a safe speed for highway conditions.

So, she believed she was complying with the law. None-the-less, Officer Stein pulled her over and rudely issued her a ticket.

The ticket was not prepayable and she had to go to court. On Dec. 8th, she appeared in Traffic Court A before retired Judge Thomas Ammonds, who was filling in for Judge Patricia Hutchens and, when her time came, explained the circumstances and her belief that she had complied with the law. The judge told her she should have changed lanes and bypassed her exit. She was fined a total of $286.

Taken as a single instance, this could be seen as a difference of opinion on what constituted ‘due regard for safety and traffic conditions’ with the judge’s opinion prevailing. However, on that court date, there were no less than ten other citations decided for the same offense, all with Officer Stein, and in every case, Officer Stein had positioned his unit immediately in front of an exit or intersection, forcing drivers to either make a dangerous turn from an improper lane or drive miles off their route if they changed lanes. An individual blocking an intersection in this manner would certainly be ticketed for obstructing traffic.

Further, Officer Stein remarked to the judge that ‘he wrote a lot of these tickets,’ confirming that this is, for him,  a regular practice.

In none of these cases did Officer Stein have another car pulled over. He was simply positioning his vehicle strategically to cause drivers to violate his interpretation of this law in order to generate tickets, clearly as a revenue measure, and not in the course of furthering public safety. To the contrary, he was deliberately creating a dangerous circumstance to induce drivers to incur an infraction.This is not proper police procedure, nor does it conform with the public safety purpose of the law.

Apparently, Virginia Beach trains its patrolmen at the Boss Hogg School of Law Enforcement, as this is a perfect caricature of the corrupt Southern hillbilly sheriff method of generating fines for revenue.

Officer Stein and his Third Precinct supervisors who permit this malfeasance to go on are a disgrace to their uniforms.

Such abuse of the powers of government should not be tolerated in a free society.

http://tinyurl.com/6xn693

Advertisements

22 Responses to More Malfeasance from VA Beach Police

  1. CEH says:

    Has your daughter made a formal complaint w/ VBPD and expressed her concerns? Has she decided to appeal to Circuit Court?

  2. Don Tabor says:

    The cost to appeal in Virginia Beach is greater than the cost of the ticket and the appeal would fall during her busy season at work (she works for a tax accounting firm) so that is not a practical option for her.

    A complaint might be a good idea, I will have to look into the process. I imagine it would be necessary to contact and get the cooperation of many of the others who were victimized.

  3. vinnie says:

    Sounds like entrapment.

  4. KBCraig says:

    This sounds like a bad case of an attitude we see too often in street cops: the attitude that laws are just a way to play “gotcha”. Right and wrong and justice are irrelevant, only whether one can make a case that some law was technically broken.

  5. Sailorcurt says:

    The cost to appeal in Virginia Beach is greater than the cost of the ticket and the appeal would fall during her busy season at work (she works for a tax accounting firm) so that is not a practical option for her.

    No offense intended, I’m probably as guilty of it as the next guy, but that’s exactly why these policies and practices continue. Because we let them get away with it for the sake of convenience.

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”
    –Edmund Burke

  6. Don Tabor says:

    In general, I’d agree with you, and I would gladly pay the cost of an appeal for her myself, but her firm does not allow time off during tax season and I would not ask her to put herself in jeopardy at work over this. Aside from which, a State Trooper friend of hers has already advised her that appeals of traffic fines in the beach are never successful.

    So, I’ll have to settle for as much adverse publicity for Officer Stein and his supervisors as I can manage.

  7. Chad P says:

    If you can find out where this cop likes to sit, I would not mind taking a day off to film his exploits, if you’re up for it.

    Alternately, contact our local news outlets and get them involved.

  8. Terri K says:

    Lee R. recently got a ticket for the same “offense”. He also slowed down but did not change lanes. I wonder if it’s the same cop? If so, is he targeting young(er) people by chance?

    And yes, it sounds like entrapment. I would approach it as a misuse of taxpayer dollars and perhaps file a formal complaint with the Chief of Police. Of course, the cop is raising revenue for the city but is that really what he’s supposed to be doing??

  9. Lee R says:

    It wasn’t the same cop but i have noticed that they are doing that a lot now, making traps to pull people over and give them tickets. I saw one just last night on Laskin Rd. Fortunately I got off my ticket but the lawyer fee was higher than the ticket she got. Judge Patricia Hutchens was my judge and she let every person who received that ticket before me off so she knew it was a bogus ticket. She just got an @sshole judge and an @sshole cop.

  10. Don Tabor says:

    Interesting.

    Judge Hutchens was supposed to be the judge in Traffic Court A, but she was out that day and Judge Ammonds, who is retired,was there as a a Temp.

  11. Hunny Bunny says:

    Most of the tickets were issued by officer Stein on Northampton Blvd, just prior to either the Independence Blvd exit ramp, Pleasure House Rd or Shell Rd and all of them were issued in the evening.

  12. Blake D. says:

    And my friends wonder why I refuse to spend a penny of my money in Virginia Beach! I do alot of work in VB but never spend a dime there.

  13. Perry says:

    Know any friendly faces in the district that would have access to the freeway’s video cameras? Get copies of these or a statement from the operator of how many hours this pig sits there and how many victims are taken from that spot?

    Get enough of the victims together and surely something should give from the public outcry.

    Friend in the traffic court who could look at the number of citations involved?

    Many news stations have investigative departments/shows. Contact all of them and let them do the footwork, maybe news helicopters watching for this guy.

    Renting a helicopter ride would probably be prohibitive in cost.

    There is probably a public area on the cross street that you could set up a camera to film this guy.

    Just brainstorming. Shit ain’t right.

  14. Ken says:

    “The cost to appeal in Virginia Beach is greater than the cost of the ticket and the appeal would fall during her busy season at work (she works for a tax accounting firm) so that is not a practical option for her. ”

    “I would gladly pay the cost”

    I’d appeal it on principle for her. Then get it continued so your daughter can attend. Frankly, I think it’s worth it.

    Until then, tell your daughter to exit at the first one available with no police nearby. She’ll have three in a row to choose from that essentially take her to the same spot without driving miles out of the way.

    A PITA I admit, and one that shouldn’t have to be considered.

  15. So You Really Thought It Was About Public Safety…

    Unintended consequences.

    If you’re reading this from here in Virginia, I bet you thought the new “move over law” was a good idea. Of course it’s good to require drivers to move into the next lane when a cop has someone pulled over on the shoulder….

  16. Burt B says:

    This is an old blog but I have some experience in the operation of an emergency vehicle. First reference 46.2-920 of the state code. It is basically the section that exempts emergency vehicles from many traffic regulations as long as they are exercising due regard. The key here is when this exemption is applicable.

    § 46.2-920. Certain vehicles exempt from regulations in certain situations; exceptions and additional requirements.

    A. The driver of any emergency vehicle, when such vehicle is being used in the performance of public services, and when such vehicle is operated under emergency conditions, may, without subjecting himself to criminal prosecution:

    3. Park or stop notwithstanding the other provisions of this chapter;

    Now if the officer is simply parking on the side of the road and turning on his warning lights he is not meeting the intent of 46.2-920 and therefore his display of lights would not be valid and a charge under 46.2 921 would not be valid.

  17. T W says:

    I highly doubt that an officer would try to entrap a person to get a simple ticket. I’m sure Virginia Beach, like most other cities, are not allowed to require quota’s for ticket numbers and the officer would therefore would have no reason to need to entrap your daughter. The officer would get nothing from writing a ticket other then ensuring the dangerous behavior did not occur again and having to drag himself to court for hours. Do you know how many officers are iunjured or killed every year from ignorant people who try to drive by them or think they have enough room. Ignorance is not an excuse in court for not complying with the law. It seems to me the problem here is a lack of education when your daughter was laerning to drive. To see how serious this offense is you should visit this website.
    http://www.nleomf.com/TheFund/programs/DriveSafely/testimonials.htm
    These are testimonials from officers who narrowly escaped with their lives because of people not changing lanes. It’s a shame that people like you feel they are above the law and assume that someone else has to be at fault or trying to “entrap” you just because something doesn’t go your way.

    • Don Tabor says:

      I understand the importance of giving way to emergency vehicles, however this officer was repeatedly stopping immediately before intersections and off ramps to write these tickets with no other vehicle stopped for a citation and was writing this kind of ticket almost exclusively.

      Whatever his reason for doing so, he was creating a dangerous situation in order to get careful drivers to break the law. I have since learned that the regular traffic court judge has begun to throw these tickets out, my daughter had the bad luck to get a temp judge on her day.

  18. Va Beach Resident says:

    I have heard of Va Beach’s corrupt officers. One in particular Medlin (older cop)… And the entire police dept sood behind this creep.

    I heard of a case where a husband and wife were driving behind Medlin for miles in the country and keeping a safe distance between them, all of a sudden, he turns on his lights and whips around us and gives the driver a speeding ticket. It was like a
    nightmare to them. Needless to say, Medlin never showed in court after 2 times of rescheduling and the case was dismissed.

    They lodged a complaint against Medlin and the Police dept said that Medlin was a “fine” officer.

    My tax dollars at work? You decide?

    • Bruce says:

      Medlin, I won’t call him officer….Issued me a ticket for plates on my motorcycle being improperly mounted. As soon as I got home, 7 minutes after he wrote the ticket, I got my camera and took a photo of my plates. I took that same photo to court, I showed it to the judge, the judge nodded as if they were OK. The judge handed the photo to Medlin and he said plates were OK now. WOWl ! ! ! I never moved the plates , nor had time to move them. What a piece of work ! ! ! He stopped me for no reason and wasted my day to prove he’s an idiot.

  19. Dave says:

    Dr. Tabor, any updates on this particular issue since the last post? I drive home from work this way often and often turn onto Shell Rd. (to Independence) to avoid the the super-quick merge required at Independence, and I’ve never seen this guy out there.

    By the way, it would create a MAJOR hassle if this particular cop decided to pull such a stunt at the offramp to Shore Drive. I believe this is the last exit off Northampton before the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and as such would require assistance turning drivers around at the toll gate if it was not feasible to do so before then.

  20. anna says:

    I was targeted by officer on Shore Drive…1:30 am Sunday June 2011 morning ..he used his unmarked car to create an obstruction in the road by nosing almost out into the street I was driving down, east on Shore Drive. I veered around him but stayed in my lane as did the white SUV in front of me…as would any careful driver going down the road that night . There was more police activity with lights up ahead on right which is why I veered and stayed in my lane rather than change lanes. I got a ticket for not maintaining my lane. I haven’t had a ticket since 1983 and feel like he was overly aggressive in his technique . If anyone else has had issues with officers smarmy ticketing procedures on Shore Drive , please comment. I did not resist arrest yet I have bruises on my wrists…I asked him to loosen my handcuffs and he refused. I’m an almost 50 year old woman with no previous record. All of the girls down at the station who were being held were also bruised yet all claim they never resisted arrest…can u have officers tested for steroids?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: