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Since I Don't Have Your Address I'll Just Leave This Here

An open letter to the Dekalb County police officers stalking traffic in my neighborhood.

Dear Dekalb County Police,

I’m a fan. Seriously. I spent three years working as a juvenile probation officer in Fulton County. I've seen your work.  Excellent. I mean, I don’t support the Fraternal Order of the Police or anything, but mostly that’s because 1. I no longer have a home phone so they can’t find me and 2. Clark Howard told me it’s most likely a scam.  But all in all I'm totally Pro-Police. Dude, I even rescued a dog from the Dog-Jail program two weeks ago in Gwinnett County. Thumbs up!

Except.

Except it’s been a year now and I realllllllly need you to stop traffic stalking my neighborhood between the hours of 9AM and 1PM. You know what I’m talking about. Pretty much every day for a year one (or two or three if we’re lucky!) patrol car/motorcycle officers can be found lurking around corners waiting for someone to do something nefarious at 9:34 in the morning. Generally these bad deeds are things like, pausing and not coming to a full stop at a stop sign or accidentally not using a blinker when no one else is around (because its 9:34 AM). I know my little patch of North Druid Hills-Briarcliff Patch is not the only one graced with an attentive police presence. I also see you every day on my way to work hiding behind bushes in Medlock and poised around the curve on Fair Oaks. We get it. WE DO.

Moms and retirees are an easy target.

I said it. We are! We’re the easiest! We drop our kids off at school or preschool or are heading home from a volunteer shift at the elementary /middle/high school. We’re zombies. We just want to get home or go to Starbucks and let our minds unravel from the horrors of screaming nine-year olds. Sometimes, because we make that drive SO MANY TIMES A DAY, we’re on auto-pilot and try to get away with a rolling stop instead of a full stop when the intersection is clear enough to see a tumbleweed roll through.

And the retirees. They’re even better with their too-big cars with giant engines that barrel down the road at like, 3 miles over the speed limit.  It’s like they’re begging you to stop them on the way to church, the golf course and the for Friday lunch. And props to you for changing the speed limit and then setting loose a full force of traffic cops to enforce the new signs. There is nothing like tricking the older population that has lived in the neighborhood for 30 years with a set speed limit and suddenly lowering it and then slaming them with a $300 ticket. Has no one ever heard of a grace period or a warning?

Here’s the thing. I admit we do these things. Everyone does. We need to slow the fricky-frack down. We get lazy and bored and overwhelmed. But typically the time of day I’m seeing these police in the middle of quiet neighborhoods, when they’re pulling over quiet cars minding their own business, is not really when we need a police presence. I live two blocks from the middle school. How about during release? Cars drive like crazy then! I worry about the kids of all ages with the school buses flying down the street and crazy carpool lines. Or what about during rush hour? When we have joggers and bikers and many, many, many more cars taking short cuts or rushing home to dinner or sports (or if you’re like me Survivor because I gave up cable too and there is no DVR) Or what about some of our major intersections! Those are dangerous all the time. North Druid Hills and Clairmont or Lawrencville Highway. I think we all just learned how dangerous North Decatur can be.

To be honest it feels less like real traffic/safety concerns than an easy way to make a buck from the demographics least likely to put up a fight. I’m not saying this is the master plan but sometimes it feels like it. Just sayin.

So seriously, Dekalb County Police, I’m not hating on you, but you need to find a new spot to pick on drivers. We’re done. We’re solid. We get the point. Thank you for reminding us to always be vigilant and we can’t drive like zombies, unless there are zombies and that is another situation entirely.

Best Wishes,

Anna

PS. For the record, I did get a ticket a year ago for rolling through a stop sign at 1PM on a Thursday. I paid it. Begrudgingly.

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Terry Smith May 11, 2012 at 12:59 PM
But it's so much easier than chasing down rapists, murderers, etc.
Chris M. May 15, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Good one......also let's not forget the monthly sting operation where they stake out the fire station on Clairemont near the Ihop to make sure nobody is blocking the driveway when the light is red...
Z Johnson May 15, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Ahh, I agree with most of the above, but it was one of those above-mentioned daydreaming soccer moms that t-boned me at the intersection of Willivee and Scott Circle, where the all-purpose trail crosses the road. Never mind that she was only going about 15 mph and that the trail crossing is usually full of kids and families with strollers. What makes my situation special -- I was on a road bike. It was the bulk of my bike that kept my body from being dragged beneath her Monster SUV. Her excuse? "I've never done anything like this before." So maybe, just maybe those cop patrols in "quiet" areas aren't so unnecessary after all.
Anna Benefield May 15, 2012 at 05:29 PM
I go through that intersection twice a day. I have never seen a cop car there once. And you're right. You have to be really careful there with all the walkers/strollers/ bikers etc. The cops aren't waiting at legitimately busy or scary intersections but lurking behind bushes on basic 3 way stops. oh well, maybe next time.
OakGroveParent May 20, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Maybe you should stick to riding your bike on surfaces other than the road that was built exclusively for the use of CARS?
Deanne May 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM
OakGrove Parent- Bicyclists have the same right to ride on the road as you and I do to drive our cars. http://dot.ga.gov/travelingingeorgia/bikepedestrian/Documents/motorists_cyclists_sharing.pdf "Contrary to popular belief, riding on sidewalks is not recommended for cyclists and in many areas it is illegal. In most cases, cyclists are not required to use multi-use paths even if they run alongside the roadway. Be prepared to encounter cyclists using the road. They are considered vehicles under Georgia traffic law." ...

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