Traffic stops are much less about enforcing traffic laws and much more about making money

Some days I get calls. I don’t respond to any of them. This is because I know what they want: money. I just don’t want to give it. I’ve been stopped at least six…

Traffic stops are much less about enforcing traffic laws and much more about making money

Some days I get calls. I don’t respond to any of them. This is because I know what they want: money. I just don’t want to give it.

I’ve been stopped at least six times. The first one was in 2014. The police told me they were doing a traffic stop, and that I had illegally entered an intersection on foot. I told them that is not how they work. But the officer told me that I had to pay $15.99 to avoid a ticket. When I refused, he told me I had to pay that ticket and that if I didn’t give him money, I could go to jail. I gave him a few dollars.

I was scared and asked the officer why he took the money. He said he didn’t know, but when I tried to take a picture of him holding the money he threatened to arrest me. I told him, “I don’t believe that,” but he said, “Show it to me.”

I told him I’m not going to turn over $15 to someone who doesn’t have a job. He yelled at me and said, “How dare you say that.” But I knew that if I handed him the money, he would put it in his pocket and take it. So I hung up the phone.

The last time was in 2016. I’d gotten off a bus a little early. I used my U-Turn to go into the subway station. I went to the next exit and went into the subway. I realized that after the subway I was in a different stairwell than where I normally park my car. I thought, “Oh, that’s weird.” Then I saw that the car I got off was in the stairwell. The officer told me that I was given a ticket and that the ticket is not valid for release until I paid it. When I tried to pay it, he said, “Just give me your ID.” That’s when I told him I was paying on my credit card. “Pay me first,” he said. “I have nothing to lose.”

He took the money and made me pay it and then came back and arrested me and took me to jail. I was scared. I sat there for a few hours until a judge dismissed the case and released me.

I’ve been called many other names at these traffic stops, too, like “being paid off by liberals.” But I know this is the truth. These stops are not for enforcement, but to make money. And if they can make money without fear of being caught, then they will keep making more traffic stops.

The special-ops officer from my 2014 stop came to my house last summer. He told me he knew that officers from other departments came into my neighborhood and stopped and harassed people for no reason. He asked if I knew who I was. When I said no, he said, “I don’t care who you are. I’m here to get you.”

The way the system is now, these stops don’t even have to be for any real reason. That’s why I try to tell people they don’t have to give money or give their IDs when a cop comes up to them and says they need to. This time, a friend of mine stopped at the same intersection as me and was stopped. He was arrested. It is a police stop, but an officer who wanted money. No one is beating people on the street with a baton just to make money. But sometimes it’s just a bad situation. It is out of control and that’s when people give money.

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