Law officers seem overzealous
in traffic citations -- and I should know
By John Zeugschmidt
May 8, 2009 | Cache Valley residents are tired of
being pulled over and issued traffic citations. "I
have been pulled over so many times in Logan that I
drive the streets with a constant feeling of sheer paranoia,"
said Jake Dinsdale, a graduate of USU and current Cache
"When it gets to a certain point, police cease to
be productive public servants and become a useless drain
on citizens' checking accounts," said Dinsdale.
I agree with Dinsdale and I believe if any government
employees should get laid off during this economic downturn,
law enforcement officials should be the first to go.
We simply have too many for the population we have here
in the valley.
Morgan Quitno Press, a publication that ranks
cities based on safety, named Logan the safest small
town in America for the second year in a row. Many Logan
residents feel a sense of pride in the fact that they
live in the safest town in America. Some residents prosper
because of Cache Valley's reputation, especially those
in the tourism and real estate markets.
"We take care of the small things, which helps
eliminate the bigger problems," said Logan Police
Department Capt. Eric Collins in an issue of the Statesman
in December of 2007.
Jessica Duhadway, a student at USU says she has been
tailed on different occasions by the local law enforcement.
"One time I was literally tailgated for at least nine
miles. If I changed lanes they did and if I sped up
they did as well.
"The cop followed me into a parking lot and parked
right next to me. This cop yelled and chewed me out
for more than a quarter of an hour because I cut her
off a little while turning onto the highway. Whenever
I tried to defend myself I got shot down and yelled
at more. The cop never issued me a citation," said Duhadway.
Former USU student Brian Wilde was pulled over on
Nov. 3, 2008, while riding his longboard skateboard.
"He asked me if I knew that longboarding on the
road was illegal, and I told him I had never heard of
that law in my life. He issued me a citation. The ticket
stated my vehicle color as tan. I was shocked. It's
not a vehicle, a 6-year-old can ride a longboard! I
had to pay a $100 fine and I received a Class C Misdemeanor,"
According to cityrating.com, Logan's crime rate falls
below the national average in every category. In fact
Logan has the lowest crime statistics recorded in the
entire United States. There is no disputing the fact
that the efforts and policies of the local law enforcement
give Logan and the surrounding area this reputation.
"It's like a broken window. If you leave the window
broken, it could lead to graffiti and eventually burglary.
You have to take care of that window. Like the window
you take care of the theft, assaults, and drug problems.
Then you don't have bigger problems like homicides and
rape," said Capt. Collins in the Dec. 5, 2007, issue
of the Statesman. Some Cache Valley residents
including Dinsdale, Duhadway, Wilde and myself feel
that we have not been treated fairly and that the local
law enforcement has little to do because of the low
crime rate in the valley.
There seem to be two contrasting perspectives. One
is that Cache Valley is like a home that has a broken
window and that needs to be fixed so other crimes are
kept out. The other perspective is that the window in
the home isn't broken but that law enforcement officials
try so hard to keep crime out that they break the window
and cause damage to those inside.
People are being nickeled and dimed for minuscule
reasons and the quality of life that the local law enforcement
is trying to promote is being destroyed by their own
However, some freedoms must be given up in order to
receive some benefits. In order for Logan to be the
safest small town in America the law enforcement must
enforce the law and take care of the big and small issues
that put Logan residents in danger. I personally would
rather live in a place where the police aren't bored
or at least cut you some slack if you haven't really
made a mistake.
"Did I come to a complete stop back there or was I
still rolling a little? Did I have my blinker on for
a full three seconds? Basically, they will pull you
over and make up a reason later. I don't pay taxes for
that kind of asinine power tripping. I live in a state
of fear of being pulled over, hassled, and fined by
bored policemen," said Dinsdale.
There seems to be a question of where the line is
between preventing criminal activity and making ordinary
citizens feel paranoid every time they get in their
I am one of those citizens. I have received four tickets
in the last three years and I have been pulled over
11 times. The seven times I didn't receive a ticket
was because I defended myself and proved that I did
nothing to deserve a ticket.
I was also arrested in March because of a clerical
error on a ticket I took care of over a year ago. I
had to pay $650 to bail myself out of jail, $250 to
get my vehicle out of the impound yard, and spend a
day in jail because somebody at the courthouse didn't
do their job right. I was also never told by the sheriff
deputies at the jail why I had been arrested. I was
simply a criminal that popped up in their system and
that is all they could tell me. I only received $600
back after Judge Cheryl Russell realized the court had
made a mistake.
I was also harassed while in jail but I have recently
been called by both Sheriff Lynn Nelson and the deputy
involved, and I am satisfied with how they have apologized
and handled the situation. The harassment wasn't that
big of a deal to me compared with being wrongfully arrested,
losing $300 of my scholarship money, and the mental
and emotional stress that went along with this situation
right around finals time.
If you are at all intrigued by what I have stated
I encourage you to check out your own record. As far
as the local law enforcement is concerned, you could
be a criminal too. If you don't agree with what I said,
I encourage you to stand somewhere on 400 North in Logan
at about 3 p.m. If you don't see at least five cop cars
in five minutes and at least two of them pull someone
over, I take back everything I have said.