Sunday, February 10, 2013

THE SHIELD OF GOLD, Ch. 13 Traffic Stops

When you turn your patrol car’s lights on and pull someone’s car over for a traffic violation, you never know what’s going to happen. It’s like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates: you don’t know what you’re going to get until you bite into it.


In one instance, we were chasing down a speeding car. We had our flashing lights on. Instead of slowing down, the car sped up. This led to a high-speed chase, and then a sudden stop. The driver jumped out of the car and raced to a nearby woods. We gave chase, but weighed down with our equipment, we couldn’t keep up.


We went back to the car. Before inspecting it more fully, we radioed in the license plate number. It was a stolen car. We approached it with caution.


There was nothing in the front seat, but in the back seat was a man lying down, bleeding from a gunshot wound. Apparently, we had come upon a situation where one criminal was racing to bring a wounded partner to get medical care. As we prepared to get the victim to a hospital, we asked him who did it to him. His response, “Go f---- yourselves.” You are welcome, sir.


We are trained to stop our patrol car part-way out on the side of the roadway, so that when we approach the driver, we are somewhat shielded from the passing traffic. If our car is hit, we may well be hit, too, but at least it makes us more conspicuous. You would be surprised at how oblivious some drivers are. Then again, if you have driven much in the City, this won’t surprise you at all.


We are also trained to tell the driver to stay in the car, while we come to him. Not everybody listens, and when a driver emerges from his vehicle, we have no idea what to expect.


On one such traffic stop, the driver --- dressed a bit unconventionally --- ran back to our police car, knelt by our driver’s side and said in accented English, “Please grant me amnesty, sir. Please grant me amnesty, sir.”

We told him to get back into his car. We “ran the plates” and found no prior violations. My partner and I conferred, and I marched up to the foreign gentleman’s window and said, “You are granted amnesty.” He thanked me vigorously in almost-English and drove away a free man. You, too, are welcome, sir.





Excerpted from the memoir THE SHIELD OF GOLD, by former NYPD detective Lenny Golino and Douglas Winslow Cooper, published by Outskirts Press in 2012, available in paperback and ebook formats from Outskirts, and others.

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