The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 29, 2012

Your View: Think about it

By Suzi Huntinton
Special to The Globe

JOPLIN, Mo. — I read Editor Carol Stark’s column “Traffic stop needed answers,” Nov. 25, 2012, and thought she’d had a light-bulb moment until she wrote: “Perhaps the perception could have easily changed if at the end of the stop the officer had told reporters Alexandra Nicolas and Ryan Richardson he was sorry the incident had occurred. Not an apology, because clearly the officer was doing his job. In fact, it sounds like he did it quite well. Still, an acknowledgment to Lexie and Ryan about the brief trauma they had gone through would have gone a long way.”

Well, here’s what Stark sadly missed — let’s call it “the bigger picture.” Had Lexie (driver of the vehicle) simply obeyed the traffic law, none of this would have happened. A cursory knowledge of the state statute, RSMO 304.022, is something every licensed driver in the state should have. There’s also the Joplin Municipal Code 114-98, which says virtually the same thing: Lexie should have immediately pulled to the right and stayed stopped until the emergency (police) vehicle had passed. In this case, the police didn’t pass and it’s irrelevant if Lexie “knows she hadn’t done anything.” She compounded the problems by continuing down the road, failing to stop at any number of other places immediately on her right — she chose a dimly lit parking lot.

How about Lexie, Ryan (passenger) and Stark acknowledging the brief trauma the officer went through when Lexi’s actions escalated the routine stop into a hot stop? I’d hazard to guess had the officer “acknowledged” their trauma, he’d have been accused of lecturing them. Having been a cop in San Diego for over 22 years, I can attest to the thoughts going through this officer’s mind when Lexie drove on. Over the years, all these “brief traumas” build up for officers, and no one ever seems to acknowledge people’s ignorant actions often are the cause of such traumas — for both sides.

Think about it.

Suzi Huntington

Editor of American COP Magazine