Oklahoma Bill Would Outlaw Unmarked Police Vehicles
Here's a story that popped up right before the holiday and managed to get buried in the Thanksgiving festivities... An Oklahoma State Senator introduced legislation that would ban the use of unmarked police cars for departments all across the state. At least on the heels of the headline, that's the assumption, but it's not the full story.
What Senator Cody Rogers introduced is really aimed at traffic infractions. He's from Tulsa, and in T-Town there are 12 unmarked police vehicles used daily to issue traffic violations. Or rather, the 12 unmarked cars are used specifically for issuing traffic violations. Oklahoma's KFOR confirmed that OKC has a fleet of unmarked traffic citation vehicles too.
The question is, are unmarked police cars a way to deceive the public into generating additional revenue?
There's nothing in the bill that says unmarked police cars will then be illegal for departments to use, it just means an officer won't be able to write a ticket out of an unmarked car for a traffic infraction. Apparently, this is how the Oklahoma Highway Patrol operates, and it's a line being drawn in that "what's good for the goose is good for the gander" mentality.
I can remember a few times the Lawton PD stepping into posts on the Grapevine asking people to remove pictures of unmarked police cars. Obviously, they want to keep them a guarded secret, but what is the motive for that?
While I cringe at all of those videos of people doing so-called "Freedom Audits" walking around filming the PD parking lots just because they can (secretly in an effort to cause enough commotion to file a lawsuit), there is a sense of truth to that.
If I'm the taxpayer buying these vehicles, I'd want to know which ones were which too.
Spoiler alert, as LPD switches over to those cute little Ford Explorer/Interceptor's, if you're wondering if it's a cop or not, look for the luggage rack. Police versions of the SUV don't sport 'em, and you can usually spot it quite a long way away.
Here's the long and short of the argument being had in the state capitol...
Half agree that hiding your police is a type of entrapment aimed at boosting revenue.
Half agree that if it weren't for unmarked cars, more people would be breaking laws.
Perhaps this is why there is such a disconnect between police officers and the citizenry at the moment. Over the last thirty years, police departments have graduated from observe and report to borderline militant in nature. This is because our police train for the worst these days, and as a shooter myself, I like to play dress-up too in my tacticool stuffs.
The perception that the public now has is this... Police feel a person is guilty until they can prove they're innocent. Keep in mind, perception is rarely the reality.
Truth be told, I know quite a few police officers. Some of our own LPD's finest, a couple of OHP troopers, a handful of game wardens, and the sheriff in my own hometown. The one thing they all agree on is they hate being the bad guy in a traffic code situation. This is especially true among the OHP and LPD officers.
Next to a first-offense seatbelt ticket in Lawton, I think the cheapest ticket is somewhere in the $190-ish range. Most of these officers don't like handing out tickets any more than they'd like to receive one themselves, but sometimes they just don't have a choice in the matter. They're paid to do a job, and the orders come from on high.
One of the things they all agree with, and this is pretty eye-opening to the reality of a law enforcement job, on a daily basis, our law enforcement constantly deals with the worst people in public. A fifth, sixth, or seventh domestic dispute of a single shift... drugs, those that prey on other fellow humans, women, kids, etc... I don't have the mindset to be able to constantly be bombarded with that kind of negativity and maintain a positive outlook. As most people reflect the environment around them, I'm surprised how many of these LEO's can deal with the pressures of the job.
Case and point: I have a good friend that was a cop for about six months. He was called on for a welfare check in the small everybody-knows-everybody hometown he was working in. Walked in the door after knocking for a while, found a teenager who had been hanging for a day or two. I couldn't imagine being the person called on to deal with that kind of stuff. He understandably quit the next day.
Still, are unmarked police cars used to generate additional revenue in that Smokey and the Bandit sort of way? If they were lions, would we be the gazelle? I don't think it's unreasonable to require public servants to be proactively identifiable, but that's just me. I'd actually like your take on it, hit the email button below and let me know.