Has It Come To This?

Letter to the editor in the Webster Kirkwood Times:

On Mother’s Day about 2:40 p.m., I was driving west on West Lockwood Avenue. As I went under the railroad trestle just past Sherwood, I came upon a large tree that had blown over, blocking the westward lanes. The only people there was a crew working to clean it up.

I swung over to go west on one of the two eastbound lanes. Very quickly flashing lights from a police car came up behind me. I don’t know where it had been. While I was waiting for the police officer to get out of his car, a woman going east went by and said she was going to court. She had gotten a ticket too.

The officer told me to pull onto a side street. He followed me and after he got out of his car ran back to hail another car going west on the eastward lane. The officer said I should have turned around. When I said people go around obstacles all the time, he said it was dangerous and I could have had a head-on collision.

I wonder how the police chief would assess the situation. The road must have been blocked for some time before I arrived, since a woman had gotten a ticket, done her business and was on her way back, and a clean-up crew had to be assembled and brought to the location. I wonder how many tickets the officer managed to write.

Shouldn’t the police be helping drivers get around the obstacle rather than waiting (where?) until drivers get into a “dangerous” situation so they can give them a ticket?

Law enforcement not as concerned with public safety as with writing tickets and generating revenue? Say it ain’t so!

Granted, all we have here is the letter-writer’s version of events, but the story too easily falls into an anecdote supporting a cynical mindset that couples red-light cameras (sometimes with shortened yellow lights), rules allowing law enforcement to seize assets easily, and ticket quotas.

I’m very disappointed that the Webster-Kirkwood Times didn’t see this as a lead on a story, because either there is some dereliction of duty or behavior that’s not in the interest of public safety here, or there’s a letter writer spinning his tale of woe for all of us to see. Maybe signs were clear that the road was closed. Maybe there were even detour signs up. Hard to say. The paper only presents an allegation and lets it go.

But we’ve got a letter and our own cynicism that keeps us cold at night.