ASK A COP — Why do police officers have to hide?

Published 12:04 am Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Meaux asks: I really don’t have a problem with being caught by a police officer for breaking a law while driving, but why do police officers have to hide in order to catch someone? Why can’t officers just be in plain sight to catch someone? I’ve even seen officers on the side of the road at night with their vehicle lights off in attempt to catch speeders, I assume. Is there a course officers must take in the academy that specializes in hiding to stop violators?

Answer: To be transparent, there are times where police officers don’t need their presence to be publicly known so they can observe violations, as many citizens report them. When we receive a complaint about speeders in neighborhoods, or a certain street, the violation occurred without police presence. If you put a marked police unit with a police officer inside, the violations would stop. So in order to observe the violators in their normal driving behavior, we like to not be readily visible. There are many instances where officers need to be undercover in order to suppress crimes. I guess that’s a form of hiding too. Police officers are allowed to have darker tint than other vehicles, well that’s a form of hiding. Hiding in law enforcement is vital, whether it’s for officer safety reasons or to observe violations, because most won’t drive the same when they see a marked police vehicle next to them. Consider this, if you’re not committing a crime, a police officer “hiding” should not be a problem to you, because they are looking for someone breaking the law.

Zoom asks: There seems to be a total disregard of motorists respecting other vehicles on the road with their bright lights on. Even when I flash them to turn off their bright lights, they simply refuse to turn off their bright lights. Do you think it’s a generational gap with younger motorists not respecting other motorists on the road, because I believe experienced motorists would turn off their bright lights when flashed by another motorist on the road.

Answer: I’m not certain if it’s a generational issue, but then again it could very well be. A lot of motorists are installing light emitting diode, commonly known as L.E.D, aftermarket lighting to their vehicles. The LED bulbs are brighter than the normal halogen bulbs. The LED bulbs do give the thought by other motorists that someone is driving with their high beams on. At this time, LED bulbs are legal in Texas, and we all know, unfortunately this won’t be legislated until something happens. It depends on a case-by-case or car-by-car situation, the LED bulbs could be too bright. It is recommended motorists purchase the entire LED kit and have it professionally installed, instead of just buying the bulbs for the replacement of the factory bulbs.

Pearl asks: I travel a lot. If there’s a crash on the highway and traffic is backed up, normally without fail, vehicles will start to cut over the grassy median to avoid waiting in the standstill traffic. Is this practice of cutting across the median legal? Once one does it, there’s almost a domino effect, where many other motorists will cross the median.

Answer: If you travel on the highways of Texas, at some point you will find yourself in stalled traffic. This is when we, as responsible motorists, have to exercise this long lost thing called patience while driving. This is an issue that definitely needs to be addressed. Cutting across a median to avoid waiting in stalled traffic is ILLEGAL in Texas, and should NOT be undertaken unless directed by a law enforcement officer on scene. Keep in mind, just because you see someone else doing something, doesn’t mean it is legal or that you should do it as well. Just as luck would have it, “YOU” will be the one caught and immediately your excuse will be “everyone was crossing the median,” which will not mount to a hill of beans! Pearl, crossing any median without the guidance of a police officer in Texas is wrong, no matter how long the wait seems.

Join Me, Officer Rickey Antoine and the crew of Stephen “Buzzard Boots” Mosley, Lelo “mouth of Hwy 69/73” I. Washington and Tejas “Lil Man” Morning Star for Ask A Cop live on KSAP 96.9 FM, The Breeze radio station every Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m. Tune in via the Internet at ksapthebreeze.org. Call in questions live at 409-982-0247. Email questions to rickey.antoine@portarthurtx.gov, call 409-983-8673 for voice mail or mail them to 645 4th Street, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640. If you happen to see me in public, you can always approach and “Ask A Cop!”