83 in a 55 could get you approximately 240.
On our recent vacation to both Pennsylvania and North Carolina, I had the privilege of being part of something I had never been a part of before. I got to ride along in the front seat of a real police SUV (jet black Ford Explorer with ample muscle) with a real police officer (a 13-year veteran of the Fayetteville, NC police department) on his different-than-normal beat (traffic/moving violations).
The man in blue was officer Les McNally (not his real name), badge number 347 (not his real number), and my (very real) step son-in-law. He was one of an estimated 500 sworn officers in Fayetteville. The sixth-largest city in North Carolina, Fayetteville has a population of more than 203,000. A big chunk of that number is the 55,000 military personnel at Fort Bragg, the largest military installation in the world (by population) that covers an amazing 251 square miles in four counties.
Officer Mac: “Being a police officer is the next best thing to being in the military. Not everyone is cut out for this line of work. Some days are way better than others.”
A police belt can weigh 10-12 pounds with all the tools of the trade on it:
On an overcast Thursday morning, Officer Mac and I took off from home at 8:19 AM. Within a few minutes, were had arrived in his Fayetteville jurisdiction in an unmarked car. Game on.
8:35 AM – our first violator. Skibo Road. The driver wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Tennessee license plate with expired tags. Double whammy. Officer Mac flashed his lights from behind. The driver pulled over. Officer Mac parked and walked up to the driver’s side of the car and asked for the driver’s license. He was polite and affirmative. No guff from the driver. He then came back to our vehicle to check things out.
Techie time. Officer Mac had a laptop attached to his dashboard. He punched in the driver’s license number and within seconds received a wealth of information. The driver was clean, no outstanding warrants. Officer Mac punched in a few more things and hit the print button. In the back seat behind me was a printer. Voila! No ticket to write. Technology has made law enforcement’s job a little easier.
What I observed: When Officer Mac gets a violator to pull over, he pulls behind the violator’s car at a slight angle offset to the driver’s side. He authoritatively walks up to the driver’s side and takes care of business. It’s all very professional and expedient. “A lot of people want to get out of their car and explain what happened,” he said. “Don’t do that.”
Between 8:50 AM and 1:15 PM – stopped 19 more violators. Not all got tickets, some got a nervous scare and a warning. We nailed several speeders on Fayetteville’s All-American Freeway. My favorite was a lead-foot with a handicapped plate doing 81 miles per hour in a 55 zone. Expired tags, too. Ticket. The dumbest move was by a driver who was stopped at a red light and took off seconds before the light changed to green. We were right behind this vehicle. Oops. Ticket.
Officer Mac: “Competent officers cannot be robots. They have to be willing to adapt to any situation because each situation is different just as each person is different. Being fair can be accomplished by making your decisions about enforcement independent of the way the citizen treats you.”
Banner day for the Fayetteville kitty: “On my busiest day, I gave out 83 citations in one 10-hour shift,” he added.
1:25 PM – made a stop at the Fayetteville jail. Officer Mac had to turn in some papers for a developing case. I sat inside the jail waiting room with two dudes a few rows away in handcuffs. That kept me on my toes. I was glad to finish up get the heck out of there. From there we stopped at the Fayetteville Police Station where I met a few of his colleagues. Shift over for me. Thanks for the experience.
Officer Mac’s regular beat is Traffic Reconstruction. He’s one of only two Fayetteville officers in this specialized unit. Not all crash scenes are alike. He’s seen some gruesome stuff. I did not ask for details.
But I did ask his colleague, Civilian Crash Investigator Jenna Bly (not her real name), to tell me about working cases with Officer Mac. “He’s one of the best,” she said. “He’s thorough and cares about his job. He’s a good teacher who knows the law. I’ve learned the most about this job from him.”
Pay the Fine: Per the opening salvo – “83 in a 55 could get you approximately 240” means a speeding ticket in Fayetteville could cost you in the neighborhood of 240 dollars.