Another Problem About Whistleblowers

A long-serving police sergeant -- who claims that he is speaking for the majority of police officers nationwide -- explains how to destroy the entire traffic-fine system via perfectly lawful mechanisms.
This is very simple and very basic. The idea is to clog up the system in the traffic camera office and the courts by drivers exercising their rights to remain innocent until proven guilty.


1. Do not accept the alleged offence. There are numerous valid reasons to dispute every single alleged offence. Often the charges are incorrect or the evidence is illegally or incorrectly gathered.

2. Challenge it, tell them that you are going to defend the matter. Make them earn their miserable $150 or $200 or whatever. They have to prepare evidence and witnesses. Just the wages for the camera operator or the Policeman on the day of the court, will be more than the actual fine. You are also taking a camera operator or a member of the Police Force off the street for the day. But it won’t get to that point… on….

3. If a court date is ever set, and it does not suit you, do not accept it, ask for a delay to a time and place that suits you.

4. When they re set the date, delay it as often as possible. keep pleading not guilty all through the process. You have every right to be sick, or go for an adjournment if the day does not suit for any legitimate reason. For example you may have pressing family or work commitments which prevent you from attending a particular court on a particular day.

5. If it ever actually gets to court, (which is unlikely if everyone does this) and if you are unwell that day, ring the court in the morning and tell them that you cannot make it as you are sick. The camera operator, and a police prosecutor will already be at court, and will be greatly inconvenienced, by having to come back another day. The whole time this is going on, the amount of paperwork involved at the traffic camera office is huge. Several staff are involved, and it rapidly becomes very costly, probably running into thousands. …..with me so far…..keep reading…….

6. The court system is then placed under such a massive load by people who wanted “their day in court” that it simply will not be able to cope unless they open up about another 50 magistrates courts, and this is obviously going to cost the government a lot more than any revenue raised. If all the above fails, which is highly unlikely….and you actually go to court and get convicted……you have a right of appeal. Make sure you appeal the conviction. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see what happens. They are not going to spend millions chasing hundreds.

7 Tell everyone you know to challenge their alleged offences, and the entire system will crash within a few weeks.

I find this interesting, given the problem we were thinking about recently regarding Goldman-Sachs and the Fed, compared with the similar case of Snowden and the NSA. Here the officer is revealing what aren't really secrets, for a similar purpose of forcing reform by expanding public knowledge of how the system works. There's no violation of any oath of secrecy. There's no violation of the law suggested: he's just trying to help you understand what rights you have under the law that can help you resist charges of traffic offenses.

And yet, of course, the intent is destructive of a basic element of our system of law and order. It's not my favorite part of the system, to be sure! Still, the intent is destructive. He explains why he doesn't feel guilty:
I am so annoyed at what is happening these days, in what I call “Indiscriminate revenue gathering” It is absolutely disgusting. The government and the Police Force need to hang their heads in shame. If you did a survey of current serving members of the police forces in this country, you would be hard pushed to find many who disagree with me.... I do not feel guilty about coming out with this information, as I think it’s about time someone stood up for hard working, civil minded, law abiding taxpayers in this country, who are being screwed.
Taking him at his word that he believes all that completely, what do you think of his method? Is it wrong to use the rules of the legal system to destroy an aspect of it? It's the kind of thing Alinsky suggests. But it would be an ad hominem fallacy to suggest that Alinsky's offering of similar advice means that the advice should be rejected.

Is he violating a required loyalty? As a former police officer? More basically, as a citizen, to use the system to destroy itself? Or is this a legitimate form of resistance that we should encourage if we share his opinions?


Eric Blair said...

Most laws these days are malum prohibitum, rather than malum in se.

There is even an argument I've seen for abolishing speed limits (just google "abolish speed limits").

So, the abuse of various laws by law enforcement (speed traps, red light cameras, the whole civil forfeiture mess--just to name a few) presents the citizen with few choices.

It is certainly legitimate. It is certainly legal.

I'm not sure that everyone doing it would have the desired effect though.

Texan99 said...

It's an interesting thing for me to consider lately, because I'm back in the mode of considering the social contract completely abrogated. Normally I don't like to do things that subvert the social order. Right now all I want is destruction and revenge. That may have to do with indulging a 48-hour fit of vicious temper, or with the fact that we just returned from an entirely satisfying drunken political complaint-fest with like-minded neighbors across the road.

Screw 'em all, that's what I say. But that's probably the severe drunkenness talking.

raven said...

I am always little scared of people who can type drunk......and make sense.
How can one believe it is wrong to use the system against itself, when the system has lost all interest in protecting the citizenry under a uniform code of law and instead seems to be intent on acting as a tax collector? On a national level, one could easily make the case the entire government has lost sight of it's reason for being-the common defense of the citizens.
About that social contract-I feel the same way, like the only value I have to society is as a tax bleeder.
There is another way to combat traffic tickets, and deny the state it's vampire extract-hire a good traffic lawyer- usually about $250-350 and almost always works. I would much rather pay an attorney than the State. Plus no days off work to contest it.

Grim said...

I'm not sure what your standard for 'severe drunkenness' is, Tex, but I think you should keep at it.

Eric Blair said...

This is funny:

Texan99 said...

Well, I was not drunk by the strict naval standard: incapable of speech or movement, however slight.

Texan99 said...

And that's a good one, Eric.

Ymar Sakar said...

There is no social contract between the farmer and his livestock. There's just an agreement, an offer that cannot be refused.

The mistake is not in society being corrupt and betraying its members. The mistake is that anyone would think it could be otherwise. Equality is not brought about by society. Neither is justice.

Grim said...

Is that the naval standard? I've only crossed that line a couple of times myself. Once when I was 19 and ignorant; the last time was just last year when an old friend talked me into sampling his "homemade Highland Scotch," which turned out of course to be nearly-pure moonshine flavored with peat. I really didn't see that one coming, though in retrospect I should have known there's no such thing as 'homemade Scotch' in the USA. I don't think I drank all that much -- it must have been pretty pure!

Funny story about that. I went to confession over having gotten that drunk, etc. The priest who took my confession was the same one who'd taken my first confession on entering the Catholic Church, which focused chiefly on the war. After I was finished explaining my sins on this occasion, he looked suspiciously at me and said: "Is that all?"

I guess it was a letdown after the last time. Sorry, father.

Ymar Sakar said...

I have noticed, on the net, that police officers defending their former unit or office's honor, or defending the Force's honor and reputation have gone noticeably down. Used to be, even in 2008, somebody would always crop up, Democrat or Republican, and say something about "they're not corrupt, my boys at this department was good". Even though their boys were in a rural department and what we were talking about are the big boys in Democrat fiefdom cities.

It must have gotten to the point where these retired, former, or still active LEOs are witnessing the corruption even in their non city based departments. Why else would they suddenly become quiet? It's not as if they are scared of the citizens.

In California, I heard they had this interesting trap where they would pay walking pedestrians to walk on streets where cars are near, then take a step unto the street right in front of a car, then jump back onto the sidewalk. If the car doesn't immediately go from full accel to 0 velocity, the police watching it takes a ticket. Joy, another ticket punched for funding Democrats and police unions.

I'd love to talk to those State Department hack boys that always said "my family members are in the State Department, so I'm going to get angry at you insulting them".

You'll be lucky if the State Department doesn't start executing Americans like at Benghazi. Insults are free from me though.

Ymar Sakar said...

Police corruption is merely a smoke screen for what's really going on in this country. The Leftist alliance has bigger things planned than some Gestapo tactics for little boys and girls.

Wait until people realize what it is, when it hits them in the head. The look on their faces will truly be hilarious.

Cass said...

OK, I'll bite. I think he's a jerk.

Sabotage has never been a great alternative to representative government. And it's frankly silly to claim that the ONLY reason for speeding or other traffic offenses is revenue.

I speed all the time, but I don't delude myself that I'm not doing something dangerous. I don't want everyone to drive the way I do. I don't want everyone to run red lights.

There used to be something called the honor system. If you were speeding, Person Up and pay the fine. If you weren't speeding, don't and fight it in court.

That's what we do. It's not difficult or onerous or anything else. If you've ever seen a human being being hit by a car, you'll understand residential speed limits and the statutory requirement that people actually pay attention to signs and traffic lights and traffic laws.

This isn't a galactic conspiracy to ruin anyone's day. There were speeding tickets when I was a kid and will be when I'm too old to drive because... common sense.

/end cranky rant :p

MikeD said...

I'll admit, I'm pretty conflicted on this one. On the one hand, I am a full supporter of "if I screwed up, I pay the fine". Because I knew that rolling stop I took was against the traffic laws. And I just got caught doing it. Mea culpa.

On the other hand, what you are paying a fine for is a law that by all rights, probably shouldn't be on the books. After all, you're not being charged with harming someone else's life, liberty, or property, you're being charged with potentially endangering it. Now, I understand the principle of punishing someone for reckless behavior. Yes, you didn't harm me directly if you fired your gun in the air, but without the law against doing so I'm certain that otherwise good honest people might be more tempted to do so (bad, dishonest people I trust will do whatever pleases them regardless of the laws). So there's that.

On the gripping hand, we have the presumption of innocence, and telling citizens their rights (regardless of the reasons) is not something that we should ever discourage. If the system does not want, and in fact fears citizens knowing their rights (see jury nullification and the way some courts treat it as an example), then that system does not deserve our support.

So my final verdict on this is I find the retired cop in question not guilty of being a jerk, I support his motives, and yet still advocate for taking personal responsibility for one's own actions and pay the damn fine if you know you were wrong. Case dismissed.

Grim said...

I wrote the piece the way I did because I figured Cass would appreciate having room to express that sentiment. Mike raises a good point, though: the only reason this is a threat to the system is that the system is writing so many tickets every day that it would be dangerous if everyone exercised their rights.

The last time I got a ticket (for the offense of "improper backing," the offense of misjudging your backing of a car so that you strike another in a parking lot), it was in a locality who wrote tickets so rarely that it actually took quite a while to pay it because there was only one lady there who knew how to take the money. I had to wait for her to have a moment to deal with it, because she was the only one in the county who handled those things.

I could have fought that ticket to the wall without any danger to the system appearing, though of course I paid it without complaint since I had no argument of not being guilty. (I had, after all, backed into the other car.) For this to be a serious problem, the focus of the police has to have moved from preventing/investigating crime to writing tickets on an industrial scale. Your rights become a problem because the focus of the police agency has shifted from preventing/investigating crime to generating revenue from violations of the motor vehicle code (which is not part of the criminal code, excepting a few offenses like vehicular homicide).

Cass said...

Mike raises a good point, though: the only reason this is a threat to the system is that the system is writing so many tickets every day that it would be dangerous if everyone exercised their rights.

I don't agree. NO ONE staffs in anticipation of every conceivable consumer not only showing up at the same time, but actively doing his best to wreak havoc and sabotage the system.

No one. It's a problem because this guy sat down and advised people to do their utmost to bring it to its knees without any regard for other people who may need the system. He's the reason so many things in the world get screwed up.

It's so easy to get out of a ticket that it's not even funny. It's a joke. And shame on every idiot who shows up and wastes the traffic court's time when they know they are guilty (I'm not talking about innocent folks, but rather the type I've sat in traffic court twice in 35 years watching with my jaw on the floor).

I've only fought twice. The first time, I wasn't even speeding - I got pulled over driving a friend's car with an expired registration and for some reason I can't recall he was going to have to pay the fine if I didn't contest.

The second time, I believe the ticket (issued to my husband, who was in Iraq on the court date) was unjust.

If the people in most jurisdictions thought traffic law enforcement was superfluous, they could easily vote it down. They don't think that, though, and haven't one single place I've lived. But if they did, fine. That's their right.

What gives this guy the right to deliberately sabotage a system his fellow citizens don't care enough to strike down?

I stand by my original assessment.

Grim said...

What gives this guy the right to deliberately sabotage a system his fellow citizens don't care enough to strike down?

Well, perhaps the fact that his suggested method of sabotage would only work if a substantial percentage of his fellow citizens took the suggested actions.

...without any regard for other people who may need the system.

I don't think that's right either. What he's suggesting is that you take every lawful method to delay your cases. That's not going to impede access to the courts to those who need them: just the opposite will be true! Rather than everyone showing up at once, no one will be showing up at all. If you really need the court to do something, all you have to do is turn up. The court may have no other actual business that day!

There'd possibly be a delay if the court is budgeting a minimum amount of time for each case assigned that day; but if they learn that a major percentage of cases will be seeking delays, they could easily trim that. So probably there's no danger of even a delay in court dates, past the initial learning curve.

So it can't work unless a lot of Americans want it to work; that just makes it a form of direct democracy. A legal form, yes? Perfectly legal. It's not even civil disobedience; at worst, it's uncivil obedience.

Grim said...

If the people in most jurisdictions thought traffic law enforcement was superfluous, they could easily vote it down.

I don't think that's true either. I think the governments of most jurisdictions are almost completely impervious to voters. If 60% of us hated the laws, well, start now and someday (perhaps in a couple of years) we'll have an election... where your issue will be one of hundreds or thousands at stake... and if you do manage to get a representative on the ballot who cares about your issue, and happens to win the election, that representative will have to get time on the calendar for a bill to change the law... if it gets out of committee, which is full of people you didn't elect because they come from other districts... and lobbyists may have something to say about it... and it's a revenue issue for the county, so actually Federal courts may object to something that would cut revenues pertaining to police offenses (that happens just from time to time: we were forced to pass a bond issue to build a jail we didn't want)...

Direct democracy often works better. The system is ossified, corrupt, and no longer responsive in most cases to the needs of ordinary voters.

So a suggestion that would work if and only if enough people care to take legal actions in defense of their interests, well, that doesn't seem bad to me.

Grim said...

Frank J makes a similar point today. I think it's Tex's point, even once she sobers up.

The system barely works ever at all. When we find something that can shut down its worst impulses -- assuming it's legal, and democratic in requiring the cooperation of very many of us -- that strikes me as a useful brake. At least until the ossified system can be swung around... maybe in 2017, or perhaps a bit later.

Cass said...

The system barely works ever at all.

Grim, I see that point all the time - almost always served up 100% free of anything that might back it up.

If 60% of voters felt strongly that speeding laws needed to be done away with, and simply pressured their legislators to get rid of them it's ludicrous to say nothing would happen.

There are a lot of stupid polls out there that essentially measure uninformed discontent. When you ask further questions ("do you want X abolished") people overwhelmingly say no. Polling resentment is just frivolous and mindlessly destructive.

What he's suggesting is that you take every lawful method to delay your cases.

No, here's what he advocates:

1. REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU VIOLATED THE LAW, dispute the charges (i.e., make them schedule a court date for you).

To claim that won't clog the system is flat out wrong.

... and then he admits what he's trying to do right here: If it ever actually gets to court, (which is unlikely if everyone does this)

and here:

The court system is then placed under such a massive load by people who wanted “their day in court” that it simply will not be able to cope unless they open up about another 50 magistrates courts,

It's ridiculous to claim that he's not trying to clog up the courts. He admits it himself, several times.

Grim said...

What I said was that his method wouldn't impede access to those who wanted it. Delays use up court time and resources, but not a lot; the intent is that, if everyone does it, the marginal cost of collecting these fines will go up because they'll have to fund pay for court workers and police officers many days where no money is thereby collected. But the people who show up because they want to show up and be heard will get heard on their first court date.

As for the responsiveness of the system, well...

Grim said...

Actually, now that I think about it, Tex's video from yesterday is also on point.

Cass said...

What I said was that his method wouldn't impede access to those who wanted it.

Sorry, but that just doesn't square with:

The court system is then placed under such a massive load by people who wanted “their day in court” that it simply will not be able to cope unless they open up about another 50 magistrates courts

Grim said...

That may be, but I don't think he's right about that. If the courts experienced 50x the caseload, they'd have to open 50 more courts. But if they experience 50x the cancellations/delays as a regular thing, they'll respond by scheduling more cases per day since they know they'll get through them faster. I think he's still right that the system would be forced to reform, but I don't think it's true that the courts would not be able to function.

Cass said...

When I was a little girl, my mother used to say to me, "What if everyone did as you just did?"

But we don't live in a world where that logic even makes sense to most people anymore. The end justifies the means.

Grim said...

He's asked and answered that question: if everyone did as he suggests -- used all lawful means to defend their interests in court -- the system would have to change. Since he thinks the system is unjust, that's to the good (in his opinion). It's not thoughtless selfishness, but a suggestion that everyone ought to do as he recommends.

So it doesn't violate Kant's categorical imperative, which is the formal philosophical version of your mother's argument. It's very much in accord with the idea that the action he is proposing is one he does want to see as a universal law.