Sunday, June 08, 2008

Drive Time

A fellow officer spotted a car driving at night with slowly creeping down the street with its high beams on. The car was a few inches from the curb and the officer expected it to run up onto the sidewalk at any moment. He ran the license plate and found it did not belong on the car he was following. Anticipating a drunk driver with a possible stolen license plate he called for backup and pulled the driver over in grocery store parking lot.

I arrived a minute later and saw a man in his 50's wearing thick glasses standing next to the driver's door of his car. I asked him what was going on and he told me he was on the way to the bar to meet some friends. He did not have a driver's license so he never bothered registering his car. Instead, he 'borrowed' his girlfriend's license plate and affixed it to his unregistered car. I asked him if he realized what he did was illegal and he was immediately offended at the suggestion:

"All I did was borrow my girlfriend's license plate. What's the big deal?"
"Well, each car is assigned its own plate and these cannot just be placed on any car you want."
"But I needed to use her plate 'cause my car doesn't have one."
"Why not?"
"Because I don't have a driver's license or insurance so there's no reason for me to get a plate."
"There's also no reason you should be driving."
"But I only live a few blocks away and I told my friends I'd meet them at the bar."
"How were you going to get home after you had a few drinks?"
" my car."
"Why don't you get a driver's license so you can drive legally?"
"Because I'm legally blind. The MVD won't issue me a license. That's why I was driving slowly next to the curb. To make sure I didn't run into anything."
"Do you realize your headlights were on high-beam?"
"That's because I can't see, I told you!!:
"Instead of borrowing your girlfriend's license plate, why didn't you just drive her car?"
"Because she knows I can't see and her car is a lot nicer than mine and she needs it for work."
"So she thought there was a good chance you'd crash her car and it would be better if you collided into somebody in your less expensive car?"
"I guess so. I should have just taken a ride from my friends when they offered it."

I told him I found it hard to believe a grown man didn't understand driving a car without registration, insurance, or a driver's license, with a fictitious plate, at night while legally blind was illegal and dangerous. His reply:

"C'mon man, can't you just give me a warning and follow me home to make sure I get there safely?"

My reply:
"Negative. . . . . . . . . . . You're being issued citations for no current registration, no insurance, no valid driver license, and intentionally using a fictitious license plate."


It's hard to believe 6 weeks have come and gone since I took on my first trainee. He now moves on to a different Field Training Officer for another six weeks. If all goes well, he'll return to me for his final 2 weeks. I've tried to prepare him the best I could but he's very young and still has an issued with command presence. It's impossible to teach someone confidence, assertiveness, poise or self-assurance. I am hoping these things will come to him as he progresses through the next phase of his training.


At June 09, 2008 12:25 PM, Blogger *Goddess* said...

Is the purpose of a second FTO to learn more from another source or what? And then why finish up another two weeks with you? After this, is the officer officially "on his own" during his shift?

At June 09, 2008 8:53 PM, Blogger Officer "Smith" said...

I learned different things from all four of my FTO's. Each one had unique expectations of their trainees, and each one had their own policing style. I took a bit of each one and combined them to create my own style.

At June 09, 2008 9:36 PM, Blogger whimsical brainpan said...

"I should have just taken a ride from my friends when they offered it."

Ya think!

If this wasn't so scary it'd be funny.

At June 11, 2008 9:28 AM, Blogger makeumdothechicken said...

When I was a younger officer I used to think I would like being an FTO. After having observed numerous recruits and the stress they induce on their trainers I have changed my mind. If they let you pick who you wanted to train it would be a great and very rewarding job, but, that isn't how it works.

A huge number of the trainees don't make it. The frustrating part is that most of the time it becomes evident that the trainee isn't going to make it in the first 3 or 4 weeks. Everybody knows it including the brass but they insist that they keep working with them for weeks if not months. The frustration of trying to make somebody into something they are never going to be and watchiing them make the same mistakes a hundred times is a real morale killer. It is painful to watch from a distance. I can't imagine how frustrating it would be to be riding with it in the car day after day.

At June 14, 2008 6:13 AM, Blogger Thomas said...

Being an FTO must be like having a student teacher.

Six weeks of fun (supposedly) which usually turns into six weeks of frustration because most of the new teacher recruits shouldn't even be allowed to work the counter at Micky D's.


At June 14, 2008 10:09 PM, Blogger 5150Wife said...

So, what do you think, Gary? Will he even make it back to you?

At June 14, 2008 10:12 PM, Blogger 5150Wife said...

goddess, the answer to your first question is yes. Plus, each phase of FTO gets progressively more difficult, with the trainee supposedly taking on more & more of the responsibility. I believe most dept's have a total of 4 phases of FTO. By the time they get to the last phase (where this recruit would be returning to Gary) the recruit should be doing basically 100% of the work, with Gary simply observing. My understanding is they return to the original FTO so the FTO can see how far the recruit has come.


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