Friday, January 17, 2014

Police in Wilkes-Barre

A troubling story is emerging in Wilkes-Barre dealing with the behavior of off-duty police.

Recently, an off-duty police officer, presumably in his personal vehicle given that it was a pickup truck, issued two citations to a woman driving in Wilkes-Barre.  She was able to beat one of the charges at the Magisterial level, but was found guilty of another.  She has since filed a complaint against the officer involved.

Law enforcement is permitted to file citations for crimes they witness when off-duty and no one appears to be disputing that in this situation.  But, based on the description the woman gave of the incident, it appears as though the police officer should perhaps be cited himself.

Wilkes-Barre is a dangerous city that is leading the region in murders.  Given that backdrop, law enforcement should not expect anyone to stop for an unmarked vehicle in the city.  And really, police officers should not be using unmarked vehicles to perform traffic stops nor should they be giving chase to traffic violators in vehicles that are not only unmarked, but do not have the benefit of lights and sirens.  Doing so puts the public at greater risk than someone making a minor traffic violation.

This incident should be evaluated by the administration and some type of resolution make public to the citizenry of Wilkes-Barre.  Giving the impression that motorists should stop for any vehicle that flags them to pull over is a dangerous precedent that needs to be resolved immediately.

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