When there are legal questions to be answered, the best person to go to is a cop. We did exactly that. We had a chance to sit down with Sgt. Jen Kolb from Tumwater Police Department and ask a few questions. Here are her responses.
If everyone is going over the speed limit, is it ok to go with the flow?
“You should maintain the speed limit. I say that because going with the flow does not protect you from getting a speeding ticket. The laws are set there for a reason, and I understand how easy it is to go with the flow of traffic, when it comes to enforcement that’s not something they take into consideration necessarily.”
Based on that, what are your parameters on who you pull over if there is a bunch of people going the same speed?
“How we do it is we use two different radar units. There is a radar unit and a lidar unit… but it’s just whoever we pick up using the lidar unit, which is just a vehicle specific unit, and just pick one out of the crowd, and that’s the one that they stop.”
So it’s just a random basis thing?
“It could be, it’s a case-to-case scenario. It depends on how many vehicles, depends on where you’re traveling. If it’s State Patrol they might have different ways of handling their enforcement than we do.”
So the rumor that a certain color vehicle will get pulled over faster is just a myth then?
“I’ve heard that, I don’t know what that color would be! I haven’t seen any actual statistics put out about the color of a car versus how many tickets are issued, or stops that are made.”
How should we react if we do get pulled over?
“First thing you want to do is find a safe place to pull over along the side of the road. Don’t stop in the middle of your lane, don’t park in an area where it’s gonna be a hazard to drivers around you. Roll down your window, turn off your stereo so you can hear us and we can hear you. Always keep your hands visible and make sure your passengers in your vehicle are also keeping their hands visible, and are not creating a problem for you. A lot of times we get passengers in the vehicle who are creating more of a problem than the driver is, being mouthy, making suspicious movements all over the vehicle. That’s something that causes a concern for us, because ‘what are they hiding’ or ‘what are they reaching for,’ so make sure that you’re responsible for the passengers in your vehicle and that they are also doing what they should be doing. When the officer comes up, always try to be friendly. The officer should show respect to you and you should respect them. That officer will ask you for what he or she needs, license, registration, and proof of insurance. You are responsible for the vehicle that you are in, so you should know where those items are so when the officer asks for them you don’t have to go searching around your car. Also, don’t have anything that is going to create a concern for us. If you have knives, you wanna make sure all your knives are put away. Just be respectful, we will be respectful to you, and just communicate. That’s all we ask for.”
In light of the approval of the firework ban, how do you plan on enforcing said ban?
“Well, education always comes first, and i’m sure starting off we will continue to do what we’ve been doing, and that’s respond to fireworks complaints now. We do enforcement patrols a couple days before and the day of the Fourth of July. We have enforcement patrols that will respond to illegal fireworks complaints and let them know that what they’re doing is illegal, and we educate our community because we want to make sure that they understand what the ramifications are before we just go in and start citing. It’s a case by case basis, it depends on what the scenario is. I can’t say that every situation is going to be handled this way. I know a lot of it is education based.”
Do you know how much the citation will be roughly?
“No I don’t. That’s not something I’ve researched. There’s probably a number in our book but I don’t know what it is.”
How do you feel about the new body cam bill that passed, that limited public access to the video archives?
“Do I have an issue with wearing a body cam? Absolutely not. I think that it’ll help more than it hurt us just because it’ll help support what we’re doing out here. The concern with the cams is the storage space. We’re trying to store our in-car video and I see how much room that takes up. Each officer wearing a body cam, thats a lot of hard drive space. That’s one issue, and the other is public disclosure. That’s something that’s gonna have to get worked out. Who has access and what they can disclose, there are some fine lines there. Once they get that all figured out, I don’t see an issue with wearing body cams.”
Do you have anything you would the students to know?
“Be respectful, respect goes a long way. Respect goes a long way with us and how we enforce a lot of times.”
We appreciate Sgt. Kolb’s willingness to sit down with us and answer our wide variety of questions.
By: Cody Grondin