Officer Sanchez of the MPD gave me a $50 ticket for failure to stop at a stop sign. It was my first moving violation in 39 years.
Here’s the story:
I am driving west on Fessenden Street, which intersects with 39th Street. 39th Street goes north only; it is a “T” intersection. Traffic in both directions on Fessenden and heading south on 39th at Fessenden have standard stop signs. The intersection, about 1/2 mile from my house is one I pass several times a week.
I come to the intersection. I stop. I hear a police siren to my right, and the police car turns from 39th onto Fessenden and pulls me over. I tell Officer Sanchez that I was certain that I stopped. She obviously disagrees, writes me a ticket, tells me I have 30 days to appeal, and goes on her way.
I circle around and see what she is doing. She is spending her morning watching cars at this intersection, and if she believes that anyone is not coming to a FULL stop, she is ticketing them.
In order to do this, as this is a very visible intersection, she hides. She parks on 39th facing south (that is, facing Fessenden), but on the wrong side of the street. She is on the left side, in the lane where cars travel north. Anyone else stopping or parking like she is would receive a ticket.
As you drive west on Fessenden, you cannot see her police car; it is shielded by a bush. But you can clearly see if there is a car coming south towards Fessenden. This is an eminently safe intersection and if someone driving on Fessenden does not come to a full stop, but rather a 90% stop, there is clearly no harm-no foul.
I saw Officer Sanchez stop a car in what I would suspect was a repeat of my situation. The car was driving west on Fessenden at a very reasonable speed, it braked at the stop sign, slowed to perhaps 2 mph, and went on. She let out her siren and pulled it over. It would be like a policeman ticketing someone for driving 25.5 mph in a 25 mph zone.
I didn’t see her when she pulled over the next vehicle. I only saw it as she was writing a ticket. This was a large dump truck heading east on Fessenden. Whether the driver ran the stop sign, I don’t know. But by stopping this wide truck on this heavily traveled, but two lane street, at the top of a hill (the intersection is at the top of the hill), Officer Sanchez created a dangerous and chaotic situation which lasted 15 – 20 minutes. Cars coming east, once they stopped at the stop sign, could not proceed ahead except by passing the police car and dump truck in the lane moving west, and they didn’t know when they could do this because the topography did not permit them to see clearly the cars coming west, and the cars driving west could not tell, until quite late, that there were cars coming east that had to use their lane. Very dangerous, Officer Sanchez.
The final car I saw her ticket was a taxi that was traveling west. I must admit that the cab driver barely slowed down at the top sign (not that he was going too fast, and not that he was doing anything dangerous, considering his ability to see cars coming south on 39th), and perhaps deserved at least a warning.
I assume there were many more, before and after I observed her. Whether she was assigned this task that day, or took it on her own I don’t know. Whether there was a “quota” involved, I don’t know. I don’t know what her motivation was, except that I don’t think it was to punish evil doers, or to assure traffic safety.
So, I will appeal the ticket. What good that will do me, I am not sure. (By the way, I did have a passenger/witness, but I don’t know if that will help or not.). But as a matter of principle, I must at least start the process.