I’ve heard some absolutely atrocious stories about New Jersey police before. Some were so far out that I was more than a little skeptical even if the teller had an excellent reputation for honesty and claimed first hand experience. All that doubt has now been erased:
Clocked at 95 MPH in the 65 MPH zone, the convoy of about a dozen vehicles was asked to pull over by Augusta County, Virginia Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Roane. Six of the New Jersey police sped away without stopping.
“We’re not above the law,” Roane said in an interview with WHSV-TV. “We have to obey the speed limits. We cannot run emergency equipment when there’s no emergency.”
In what was described as an initially hostile stop, Roane politely asked the New Jersey officers to turn off their lights and slow down. The Passaic officers claimed that returning from helping with Hurricane Katrina rescue duties gave them the right to speed.
“We just had guys down there for the last 14 days… helping our brothers in blue,” Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale said in a recorded telephone call to Roane after the incident. “You know what? You need to get off of that highway, pal, and wake up and learn what law enforcement is all about — supporting each other.”
“It’s a disgrace,” Speziale said of Roane’s conduct. “If you think that that’s not a disgrace, you should take the badge off your shirt and throw it in the garbage.”
It is unlikely that ordinary motorists returning from equally hazardous volunteer rescue efforts would receive the same courtesy. Under Virginia law, it is illegal to operate emergency lights when there is no emergency. Moreover, driving 80 MPH on any highway is considered reckless driving and carries a sentence of 12 months in jail, a $2500 fine, a six-month license suspension and possible car confiscation (VA code § 46.2-862).
And from TheNewspaper.com
Other police officials agree with Speziale that police should be exempt from the laws binding other citizens.
And yet some people will tell you we don’t need an individual right to keep and bear arms. When the private citizen is disarmed the police, and government in general, develop an attitude that is unacceptable in a free society. New Jersey is a prime example of this.
Had I, with the data currently available to me, been the sheriff in Virginia I would have put them all in jail and put out a warrant for arrest of their chief and attempted to extradite him for aiding and abetting.
Update: Another report indicates the rogue cops did more than just speed and ignore the local police:
For nearly 200 miles, New York and New Jersey police also wreaked havoc from morning until night by forcing motorists from their lanes as well as by tying up traffic.
I-81 motorcyclist Dick Graham recalls a speeding New Jersey caravan that remained in his sights only for seconds during a morning ride north of Roanoke.
“I look in my mirror and, good God and low and behold, the horizon was red” with police lights, said the Fishersville resident and chief executive officer of Augusta Medical Center.
“I had my cruiser going 70 [mph], and they just blew right past us,” Graham said. “It was just a whole snake of them. It looked like a NASCAR race where they draft each other” bumper to bumper.
The News Virginian, through the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, obtained transcripts of five 911 calls to Virginia State Police dispatchers.
One call shows that the convoy broke up by the time it neared Augusta County. A splinter group continued to force motorists off the road while passing through the Raphine stretch of I-81, though.
Said one caller at 10:25 a.m.: “Coming northbound 81. Should be at the 204 [mile marker] now. There are three New Jersey sheriffs’ offices vehicles … and apparently they’re using their emergency equipment to get people to move out of their way.”
The next call logged by State Police came from the Augusta County 911 center, which apparently also had tracked the convoy via I-81 motorists.
“Did you get the BOL [Be On the Lookout] for three New Jersey police cars running lights and sirens on the interstate?” an Augusta County dispatcher asked.
“Yes, we did,” replied a State Police dispatcher.
Though the caravan extended for 80 cars, one state trooper reported, some motorists complained of smaller groups of New York police that refused to yield the right of way to traffic for nearly 100 miles.
Said one caller: “There are four New York police cars running side-by-side with flashers on. … They are not letting traffic go by, going approximately 50 to 55 mph.”
New York police also hogged the road to the point of forcing others cars out of the way.
“The four New York police vehicles … just cut me off,” the driver said. “They have the right lane blocked and won’t let anyone around them.”
The dispatcher taking this called listed the caller as “very upset.”
Emergency calls seem to trace this convoy for roughly 88 miles. One call comes at 11:07 p.m. from a tractor-trailer driver warning of the resulting traffic jam crawling through Blacksburg at 30 mph.
“Yes … I’m driving an 18-wheeler here on Interstate 81 going north at Exit 130,” the tractor-trailer driver said. “Um, we’ve just about had several wrecks here because of New York State Police and I guess New Jersey police vehicles are blocking both lanes and letting nobody pass.”
Cops, as group, don’t get that out of control where the people they serve exercise their right to keep and bear arms.