Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What to do when your pulled over, People I have seen get out of tickets.

I ran across this great article for telling people what to do when they are getting pulled over for a traffic violation. I thought it would be great to pass this info on. It also reminded me of some ways which I have seen others get out of a ticket so after this article from "the car" I thought I would tell you some of the ways I have seen people get out of a ticket.

Sorry Officer,
What to do when you're pulled over

As you coast to a stop on the shoulder of the roadway, you know that sick feeling -- you've been busted. And now, it's time to pay.

We thought it might be a good idea to share with you some advice on how to behave once you're pulled over. So, we asked a few state troopers for their list of do's and don'ts. Here's what we gathered:

Pull over as soon as possible. As soon as you even think that you might be the one who the highway patrol car is after, pull over. This shows that you have proper respect for emergency vehicles' right of way, and doesn't necessarily mean to the officer that you're admitting guilt.

Always pull over to the right. Always pull over on the right side of the roadway. On divided highways, signal and safely move over to the far right lane, and then to the shoulder. When you come to a complete stop, choose a section of roadway that has a full shoulder, without guardrails if possible. Pulling over on the left may obstruct traffic, and pulling over next to a guardrail may make it difficult for the officer to safely approach your car. Both are mistakes that won't win favor.

Know where your paperwork is. Normally, when a police officer first pulls you over, he/she will ask for your license, registration and insurance. If you're not well organized and keep the officer waiting while you dig through your possessions, the officer may be less likely to sympathize.

Make the officer feel safe. Turn your dome light on at night. Always keep your hands in plain sight. Don't make any sudden movements. Roll your window down all the way. Stay in the car. Use common sense and don't put the officer in an uncomfortable situation.

Let the cop talk first. Don't blurt out things that could incriminate you. Keep your calm, even if you're upset about being stopped. Don't volunteer information, like how fast you thought you were going. The officer may not be pulling you over for what you think he is. Let him talk to you first. React kindly and you may have more of a chance to be sent on your way without a ticket.

Don't argue with the cop. Challenging the officer is a recipe for disaster, and likely means that you will be written up for the full offense and the officer will be less likely to opt for a compromise in court. So is asking to see the officer's radar-gun calibration records. If you are issued a ticket and wish to contest it, set a date in court.

So all great tips and as I stated earlier this reminded me of ways people have gotten out of tickets. The first and easiest is to be the nicest person you can be. I have had people apologize for their mistake, thank me for pulling them over and tell me how they really appreciate the work officers do. Unless the reason you pulled them over is really egregious it is hard to give someone a ticket or at least not cut them some slack when they start out the conversation like that.

One friend of mine told me how she got pulled over for speeding (just a little, she says) and when the officer walked up her young child in the back seat started crying and begging for the officer not to take her to jail. The officer got so freaked out he spent most of the time reassuring the kid her mom was not going to jail and sent them on their way with out a ticket.

I listen to comedy on XM radio a lot when I am in my car and I think it was Carlos Mencia who told a great story of how he was caught speeding and was recognized by the officer. The officer went back to his car to run his license and registration and he decided to make the officer laugh in hopes of getting out of a ticket. As the officer is walking back to his car he puts on the theme from COPS. Then he and the passengers start cracking jokes. One of them was " hey officer its cool you got a computer in your car, I got stopped in Mexico and the cop there had a Rolodex." They got the cop laughing and he sent them on their way, with out a ticket.

I have only seen this one work with male cops and female drivers, Cry. Males hate to see women cry and I not sure if it was real or not but in all my years I have always had a hard time giving tickets to crying women with minor infractions. Keep in mind many drunks cry when stopped and cops do not let anyone get away with driving drunk, not even other cops. So if you do cry don't look drunk when you do it!

Honesty can get you far. Officers will give some latitude to respectful, honest drivers. I can't tell you how many times we walk up to cars and people just go off on a screaming tangent. Do they really think that's going to help? Those people get every ticket the officer can give them and get no breaks.

Anyway, really did not intend to give a lesson on how to get out of a ticket, I just wanted to pass on some funny and other ways we often see people get out of minor traffic infractions. Keep in mind if you are committing a major infraction or say speeding in an area we have received numerous complaints or accidents you may get a ticket no matter what. Kids not in seat belts will pretty much always get a ticket. Automobile accidents require citations go to anyone at fault due to the litigation that can often occur.

One last tip, if an officer asks you if you have been drinking because your eyes look red don't answer with: " No officer, have you been eating donuts because your eyes look glazed ! "

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Senate Bill could put halt to Red Light Camera's

As reported by KOB TV, the New Mexico State Senate passed legislation limiting the ability of cities to profit from the use of red light cameras. Senator William H. Payne (R-Albuquerque) originally introduced a bill to place beacons at intersections, but the Senate approved a version limiting the price of photo citations to those already established by state law by a 41-0 vote. According to Senator Payne "They are a guise for making money for the city of Albuquerque".

This would put an immediate halt to the Red Light Camera Programs anywhere in New Mexico. The State fee schedule would barely cover the costs of running a red light camera program. It would still be cheaper than putting officers at these intersections every day. However Albuquerque and other cities currently considering Red Light Camera's (Santa Fe) would not make the enormous amounts of money that they once thought they would.

Albuquerque charges $100 the first time the registered owner of a vehicle is mailed a photo ticket. A second mailing brings a $250 plus 30-day car seizure and on the third occasion, a $500 fine plus 90-day car seizure is imposed. State law provides a $15 first-time fine that rises to a maximum of $200. Albuquerque has raised over Five Million Dollars in the short time they have had the camera's. The Mayor claims all but a small amount has been used to fund the program. Unless Redflex Traffic Systems is way over charging Albuquerque then it seems unlikely that the program has cost over five million dollars.

It will be interesting to see how this bill now does in the House and then if the Governor would sign it. The Camera's could still be used and if the cities who want to use them really care about safety and not making profits, then they might still use them and try to just break even or perhaps subsidise them from the General Fund. My objection to these camera's all along is the involvement of for profit companies and the use of them across the nation to make huge profits for municipality's and the private companies involved.

Click here for more on my blog about red light camera's

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

NBC Dateline "To catch a Predator"

Tonight I watched the latest episode of the NBC Dateline popular series "To Catch a Predator". Since 2004 over 200 men have been arrested responding to decoy children who chat online and over the phone with unsuspecting men. NBC pays a group called Perverted-Justice to assist with these online sting operations. What never ceases to amaze me is that men still respond and prey on these children even after all the publicity this has garnered. In one case the same guy appeared on two shows when he repeated his crime after bonding out of jail and then re-offending a few months later.

In this latest installment the show moved to Murphy Texas where for the first time the show and the police received a lot of heat for the latest sting. In the latest sting they snared Assistant District Attorney Louis “Bill” Conradt Jr.who upon faced with arrest shot himself in the head and died. The family of the Assistant D.A. was upset because they felt he was set up and the film crews combined with the sting caused him to kill himself. The townspeople were upset because a home in a residential neighborhood was used in the sting in which 25 men were ultimately arrested. The residents felt that the sting put the rest of the neighborhood at risk. Many had children and the street had one sex offender after another driving into the neighborhood at a time to meet their prey. Murphy residents also feared people would get the wrong idea about their town and property values would be affected.

The Shows producers claim this is the first time neighbors expressed a problem with the stings in residential neighborhoods. Their were protests at city hall and counter protests supporting the police chief. In the middle of the sting a City Councilor showed up with neighbors to protest in front of the house while the sting operation was still going on. They were given an explanation and asked to leave so the operation could continue and they agreed.

As I stated in an earlier blog we recently opened our Computer Forensics Lab which will make a big difference in cases like these. Confiscated computers and gathering electronic data is essential in these and other computer related cases. What do you think? I would like to see comments about this show and the concerns of the residents of Murphy Texas.

I believe this show has done a lot of good. Local arrests of Online predators like these would never garner the publicity this show has garnered. Along with that publicity comes the chance that at least the numbers of online predators are less than they would be other wise. Yes there are still those that will offend anyway and we need to do our best to catch them. However, when you watch these shows it has to make some people think twice. Leave your comments on this story. Do you think this type of sting is good, but maybe not in my backyard? Do you think this lures men who may not have done this other wise? Would you loan your home for a sting like this or even not mind if another home in your neighborhood was used?

Some clips of the shows are located here if you have not seen them.

Go here to read transcripts of chats suspects had with decoys (note some contain obscene language)

Go here for information on keeping your kids safe on the Internet.

New Mexico Sex Offender Informaton Web Site

Friday, February 16, 2007

Kudo's to KOB TV

I want to give Kudos's to KOB TV for this story on it not being illegal to video tape someone in a bathroom. The reporter made an excellent point when he pointed out that while the New Mexico Legislature has passed laws on things like the State Bolo Tie and official State Cook Book, they have yet to take care of unsuspecting females who are video taped with out their knowledge in public bathrooms. This really should be a law that should fly through committees and be passed by both the House and the Senate with record speed. The stunt of putting a fake camera in the restroom was a great attention grabber and the legislature should take immediate action.

Usually the media reports things that have happened rather then taking part in making things happen. This was a great case where they did both.

On another note the New Mexican, The Journal, and KOB TV reported on The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office new Computer Forensics Unit. I am especially proud of this achievement as it was years in the making and puts the Sheriff's Office in the forefront of New Technology and puts in place the ability to gather and preserve digital evidence.

on a final note I am very upset with This bill moving through the legislature.
The House voted Wednesday to allow counties to raise taxes aimed at jail funding. That measure now heads to the Senate. This is in response to counties who are going broke housing state prisoners in an unfunded mandate. Rather than just pay their bill to the counties for housing these state prisoners, legislators are trying to have individual counties raise taxes locally and then use the money to pay for the bills we are incurring on state inmates. This forces local County Commissioners to face local constituents with a tax increase and then somehow explain to them that we are raising taxes on them to pay a bill the state refuses to pay. What is wrong with this picture? Come on legislators just agree to pay the bills for state prisoners. One of the problems is there is no definition of just who is a state prisoner, that is also contained in a bill the legislators can and should pass. Counties are literally going broke paying jail bills and a huge majority of these prisoners either are state prisoners or should be state prisoners.

State District judges, State Prosecutors and defense attorney's try to keep prisoners who are sentenced to prison out of the prison system by having prisoners sentenced to say five years in prison but deferring all but 364 days. What this does is burden the county jails with hard core prisoners who belong in prison and whose bill should be paid by the state but because of the deferred sentence they end up with the bill for their incarceration being paid by the County. These are prisoners charged with State Criminal Statutes, convicted of crimes in a State Court and sentenced to State Penitentiary's, Their incarceration costs should be paid by the State.

Anyway its Friday and I have talked enough. Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentines Day!

Today I want to take the liberty of using my blog to wish my wife Antoinette and my Daughter Sylvia as well as all my readers Happy Valentines Day! My wife and I met when we were 16 years old at Santa Fe High School. She will deny it when she reads this but she used to have a crush on me when I would walk past her aunts house where she used to spend a lot of time.

I would walk by in my platform shoes (or roller skate by), along with my John Travolta bell bottom pants and a silk shirt. I would top it off with a leather jacket and a huge boom box. The Boom Box made today's Ipods seem almost invisible. We had to carry them on our shoulders not to have them closer to our ears but instead to carry the weight of the 10 D-Cell batteries those things held. Anyway Disco aside we have had a great 27 years together.

My daughter is 14 but she thinks she is 21. Unfortunately she will probably be 21 in what seems like the blink of an eye. Tonight its dinner with friends and then a comedy show at the lodge in Santa Fe featuring Steven Michael Quezada. He is a great comedian so if you don't have plans you might want to check him out. Anyway, Happy Valentines day again to all of you!

P.S. I tend to exaggerate when describing my early years with my wife. LOL

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Meth as an Education Tool?

When I read this I could not make up my mind whether to laugh or shake my head in disgust. I ended up doing a little of both. Really though it is no laughing matter.

From the Santa Fe New Mexican 02-10-07

Math teacher makes bad move

A Moriarty High School teacher "made a misjudgment" on an algebra test by using a question about a fictional methamphetamine dealer, principal Wayne Marshall said.

The question reads: "Smoky J. sells meth. Smoky's source says he has to sell a G's worth of meth by the end of the month. If Smoky sold $240 the first week and $532 the second week, how much money must Smoky make if he wants to avoid the beat down from his connection?"

Teacher Will Klundt is a good teacher who tries different methods, but the question was a poor choice, Marshall said.

"He's a hardworking member of the staff, and this is not the norm," the principal said. "This is a fine young man who made a misjudgment. And he understands that, and he's better for it."

Marshall would not say whether disciplinary action will be taken against Klundt.

I realize that teachers try to reach students by sometimes speaking to them in their terms. I remember at De Vargas Junior High I had a math teacher that was good at relating to students on their terms. He was a hispanic teacher with an Afro and a mustache and he kind of resembled Gabe Kaplan of "Welcome Back Kotter". Because of this many of us called him Mr. Kotter, he had a great knack for making the students feel they could talk to him and relate to him. You did not feel as though he was talking down to you. I ran into him years later and I was dismayed when I learned he had quit teaching and became a plumber. This was back at a time when teachers really could not make a living in Santa Fe. I know things have gotten better but we still need to do more to attract and keep good teachers.

So maybe this teacher was trying to relate on the rap music type level with these kids. It was still wrong and in bad taste. Even though each generation has their own style of music and each generations parent usually don't approve, I.E. Elvis, the Beatles, Ozzy Ozborne, Metalica, then on to Tu Pac Shakur for today's generation, We can't condone the use of drugs and violence as teaching tools. There is a huge difference between my old math teacher "Mr. Kotter" and this Math Teacher Will Klundt. I hope he really is a good teacher and this was just a momentary lapse in judgement. If not maybe we can trade one plumbers job for one teachers.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

President Bush continues attacks on Local Law Enforcement

President Bush in his newest budget proposals continues to attack state and local law enforcement. When President Bush took over from President Clinton the Community Policing Programs (C.O.P.S) had a budget of 1.5 billion dollars. This money was used by police and sheriff's across the nation to fund more police on the streets, drug resistance training in the schools, Cops in the schools programs, prosecution and apprehension of career criminals and many other great programs to keep our families safe. Last year, the budget was stripped down to $500 million. This year President Bush is proposing $32 million for the C.O.P.S. programs. Basically killing the C.O.P.S. program in its entirety.

The proposed President Bush budget also eliminates funding lines for a wide variety of law-enforcement programs: drug courts, prison rape prevention, cannabis eradication, mentally-ill offender programs and more. The money that once went into these programs is being put into one pool and each of these programs will have to compete with each other for the money.

Crime has been on the decrease nationwide for some time now. I and other law enforcement leaders truly believe that it was the efforts of the Clinton administration and the C.O.P.S. programs that made this a reality. It is only a matter of time before these cuts start to bleed. Many of the officers once hired under the C.O.P.S. funding are long gone and the funding was not kept up by the local governments. Santa Fe County once had 3 deputies funded by the federal government. When that funding ended the county did not continue to fund the positions and they were lost. At that time there were 72 deputies in Santa Fe County. When I took over as Sheriff in 2003 the number of funded positions was 69. Only this year did we get back to the 72 deputies we had prior to my administration.

Torrance county had 12 deputies at one time with the assistance of the C.O.P.S. programs. In 2005 the county had to let go of 6 deputies after the C.O.P.S. funding ended. Imagine a county losing half its police force in one day! The State Police had to be asked to come in and assist. Lately the State Police has been so short handed that their ability to assist other agencies is stretched. It is only a matter of time before crime statistics grow in response to lack of adequate law enforcement and criminal justice programs.

What never ceases to amaze me is that the Republicans still campaign and present themselves as the party who believes in good law enforcement yet it is the democrats who have a record of supporting law enforcement and its programs. The Santa Fe New Mexican recently did a story on drug and DWI courts and their effectiveness. For years we have heard of the effectiveness of drug courts. It is one of the most successful programs outside of Law Enforcement and incarceration and it bridges the gap between enforcement and treatment. Yet here is the Bush Budget cutting money for these programs once again.

I urge all Americans to contact your legislators and oppose the decimation of these programs.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Traffic lights to be timed. Preparation for Red Light Camera's ?

Russell Simon of the Albuquerque Journal reports that the State will begin a traffic study and synchronize the lights on Cerrillos and St Francis Drive. Although Red Light Camera's are not mentioned in the press release one of the big issues with the City of Santa Fe's consideration of using Red Light Camera's has been the timing and synchronization of lights on Cerrillos Road. Residents who posted to the New Mexican's Comments section on the issue actually timed the lights and compared the timing with national recommendations and found the yellow lights were well below the recommended length of time to be on before turning red.

I feel the timing and synchronization is very much needed. According to According to the Santa Fe's traffic operations engineer, Rick Devine, the timing for traffic signals on St. Francis hasn't been updated in at least a dozen years. Neither has the timing for the signals on Cerrillos Road. Studies have shown that proper timing is the most effective way to reduce accidents caused by red light runners. I also feel this is probably being done as a precursor to actually installing red light camera's at Santa Fe's intersections. Regular readers of my blogs know I have concerns over the use of red light camera's to raise income for cities. If we did have red light camera's installed I would like to see it be a fair program that is not overly excessive in fines and is not run by a private for profit company and rather run by the city itself. The city is considering going into this venture with a private company which provides the cameras and administers the program in exchange for a hefty cut of the fines generated.

In another Albuquerque Journal story
Sen. William Payne, R-Albuquerque, introduced legislation Monday to force the city to post flashing yellow beacons at 15 intersections where cameras are mounted to catch motorists running red lights or speeding.
The beacons, if flashing, would alert the motorists that the traffic light would turn red before they passed through the intersection, Payne said."Using public safety as a profit center is bad policy," Payne said.
His measure to warn motorists was met with strong bipartisan support Monday. Almost every senator endorsed the legislation by signing on as a co-sponsor.
"It was not a hard sell, and it won't be on the House side, either," Payne said. "Everybody I've talked on the House side says, 'Go get 'em.' ''

As of last month, Albuquerque has collected $5.2 million in fines on nearly 80,000 citations issued to motorists since May 2005.
But Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chávez said the city doesn't make a dime. He said the city funnels the collected fines back into the program to expand it.
For example, the proceeds recently paid for cameras at two additional intersections around the city to supplement the 13 already on line.
And Chávez argued that speeders and people who run red lights actually pay for the program, not taxpayers.
"It's just unfortunate that the senator doesn't have his facts straight," the mayor said.
Payne said that, while the fines go toward the program now, it is only a matter of time before they will be diverted to the city's coffers.
"How much will that raise if they double the number of cameras?" the GOP lawmaker asked.
Payne's legislation would require the city to post and synchronize the flashing yellow beacons with the traffic signal on all roads leading up to the camera-mounted intersections.
If the beacon was flashing, a motorist would know the traffic light would turn red before they got through the intersection.
The beacons would improve on the signs the city has already posted roughly 100 yards or so from each camera-mounted intersection, Payne said.
But Albuquerque Police Chief Ray Schultz said the flashing beacons could "cause more harm than good" by encouraging motorists to speed up to clear the intersection.

The interesting thing about this story is that the company Albuquerque uses for the Red Light Camera's is Redflex Traffic Systems. This company has contracts in 106 cities* world-wide and, with 90 USA cities under contract, is the largest provider of digital red light and speed enforcement services in North America. It is also the same company who is proposing to supply them to Santa Fe. In most cities the company provides the camera's and administrative support in exchange for a cut in the revenues provided from the fines. I don't know what kind of contract the city of Albuquerque has with Redflex and the city does have to review all citations and photo's before they are sent out as well as provide for hearings on protested citations. This all cost the city money in salaries etc. but it almost seems impossible to me that the costs were 5.2 million dollars. It would be interesting to have one of our news outlets review the contract with Redflex and compare the costs of the program to the income. Although keep in mind that Redflex takes a hefty cut in most states that they have contracts.

I still have yet to see any data on rear end collisions at the intersections in Albuquerque where camera's are installed. Many other states have seen an increase in rear end collisions at intersections where camera's are installed. In some area's the increase was so bad that the camera program was ended. Here is a link to a previous blog post that refers to some of these studies.

This Article "Senator calls Red-Light Cameras traps" was posted by the Albuquerque Tribune as I was writing this blog post.

Finally to see all my blog posts on Red Light Camera's Click here.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Benjie Montano joins City Police as Deputy Chief.

Former Santa Fe County Sheriff Benjie Montano has accepted a position as Deputy Chief of the Santa Fe City Police Department. It was a great choice, Benjie is a real experienced professional who will do an excellent job. When I became Sheriff in 2003 I attended a meeting with sheriffs both newly elected and re-elected Sheriff's from through out the state. There was many a story about the disarray the various Sheriff's offices were in through out the state. Many new Sheriff's were trying to dig the offices out of financial, morale, or various other problems. Sheriff Ray Sisneros and Benjie Montano who was the Under-Sheriff at the time (Benjie was the Sheriff before Ray then became his Under-Sheriff) left the Santa Fe County Sheriff's office in great shape.

Employees at the Sheriff's office still talk about Benjie's great sense of humor and ability to make coming to work fun. I am a much more serious person and often struggle to show my sense of humor (I think there is one in here somewhere). My wife often tells me I need to smile more and over the last few years I think I have gotten better. Benjie and I have very different management styles however I think they both work for us individually.

The challenge Benjie faces is the very different management structure at the City. The City has a Mayor, eight City Councilors and a City Manager all hanging over your head when you are a Chief at the City. Technically the City Manager over sees the employees but historically the Council and Mayor have very seldom been able to keep from micro managing the departments. To Mayor Coss's credit I think he is trying to change that part of the city's history. Benjie has spent his management career at the Sheriff's Office where the Sheriff and Under-Sheriff have wide latitude to mange their shop. The boss is the voters who every four years deliver their evaluation and decide to re-hire or fire. This is why all but one other state does not have term limits for Sheriff's. The Voters decide when a change is needed. New Mexico needs to re-evaluate the term limits for Sheriff's. Counties, especially the smaller ones, lose valuable experience when good Sheriff's cannot run for more than two terms.

I think Benjie will adapt and overcome, Chief Eric Johnson made an excellent choice and I wish him and Deputy Chief Benjie Montano well and look forward to working with them.

Albuquerque Journal Link to this story.