ChainLink Enforcers Are Like The Proverbial Cops – “Never Around When You Need Them”

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Summary

Background Reading:

A business owner witnesses some activity which disturbs her. She describes the incident in this fashion:

Anyone else witness a scary driver/cyclist altercation on Milwaukee near California this morning just before 9am? The driver turned out to be a (surprise!) cop? He endangered at least a half a dozen cyclists.

The responses begin:

“Wish I could say I’m surprised.” —  122782_

“This is why I want to mount a GoPro or other video camera to my bike.” — Joza

“My god, is there any greater road hazard and threat to life than an off-duty cop behind the wheel? Every week it’s either intentional or inadvertent intimidation on the part of these guys. There is no more entitled and self-righteous motorist.” — Daniel G

“If ever I found a Genie in an oil lamp I know what my first wish would be…” — James BlackHeron

“Based upon the description, behavior is unacceptable.  However, anyone ever considered that he was not off-duty but undercover and was actually looking for the guy he “stopped”?  Just saying’.” — Lisa Curcio

“I plan to call their Internal Affairs office. I didn’t do it today, because I was hoping that another witness got the license plates number. Regrettably, no one did. However, I have a very good description of the driver, and I did follow his antics the whole way, as I was driving immediately behind him. I did not want to write a long essay on Facebook, but it was very scary and reckless behavior, regardless of whether the cyclist had actually done anything wrong — he did not. Even when he was pushed against the car by the cop, he maintained his composure, and was just trying to diffuse the potentially explosive situation. I’m really glad that no one was hurt. This cop endangered easily a half a dozen cyclists by forcing them out of the bike lane and into oncoming traffic. I narrowly missed hitting one myself with my vehicle, because he appeared out of nowhere trying to get out of the way. I really couldn’t stop and take notes, because I had two kids with me in the car.” — Justyna

“Even if on duty the reckless behavior of the officer was endangering others.  He was also in a car that was obviously not a city vehicle and I doubt an undercover officer is going to be wearing a badge around his neck.” — NotoriousDUG

“He was not out looking for anyone. He apparently was annoyed at the left-turning vehicle in front of him, and used the bike lane to get around. Never mind that there was a large group of cyclists in the bike lane. That’s when I saw him, plow into the cyclists for no apparent reason. One of the cyclists took exception to this and yelled something at the guy, and that’s when he singled him out, followed, and eventually forced him off the bike.” — Justyna

“While the incident is fresh, sit down and write a detailed narrative for your reference latter. You will be required repeat the details several times awhile from now. Be prepared for a very long drawn out process to actually file a complaint. You will probably be required to fill out numerous forms and visit the station at odd hours. Speaking from experience the process is designed to frustrate you until you drop the matter.” — Cameron Puetz

Now the general tone of these responses seem somehow to have found fault with the officer’s behavior. And of course one wag decides that he may use a camera to I guess film such incidents. But I believe that the current statutes regarding filming police activity disallow this.

But for the most part none of the contributors seem to be too willing to tone down the out of hand condemnation of the officer. In fact from the very last remark it would appear that perhaps this thread was launched prior to ever having contacted the police themselves. Something which should probably be the very first thing you do, right?

Now the Enforcers Show Up

So nearly two days after the first thread when a second thread emerges. This one is from a person identifying themselves as an attorney whose friend is involved in what was initially supposed to have been a “hit and run” accident.

The author writes:

“A friend of mine who I occasionally ride with in the AM from Oak Park to the Loop was hit by a car on Monday just west of the intersection of Washington and Homan.  He was riding in the bike lane on Washington.  As you cross Homan into Garfield Park, the road splits to the north (Schrader Blvd) and south (Washington Blvd).  The driver crossed from the lane on the left of the bike lane (which is clearly marked and bends south onto Washington through the split) right onto Schrader NB, mowing down my friend, who was right next to her.  Not only is the bike lane marked all the way through the split, but there is a right turn lane to the right of the bike lane, so there’s zero excuse for a driver to cross the bike lane.

He’s OK – a little road rash, sore ribs.  The crash ruined his rear wheel, cranks and bars.  He had a trip to the ER and will have some med bills.

The driver initially fled the scene, but a another driver who saw the incident gave chase, caught her, and somehow convinced/compelled her to return to the scene.  She was completely belligerent and accused my friend of causing the accident.  Police and paramedics arrived.  The police acted fairly and took a full report.  The driver told some unbelievable story about how she was being harassed and is the victim here.  The driver who pursued the driver who hit my friend was driving a commercial vehicle with a front-mounted video recorder that was running and which he think captured the accident.  That guy alerted the police officer and gave him a copy of the recording (how he did this I don’t know).

So yesterday my friend gets a call from the driver’s insurer, Geico.  Although (1) the police report has not been finalized (the investigating officer says it will be ready early next week after they review the video) and (2) Geico has not even called the police to see what they say, Geico has concluded that no one is at fault and that my friend should be responsible for 50% of his damages.  Based on a discussion with the police officer, the police appear to have concluded the driver was 100% at fault, but we have to wait to see the report.

Although he has only begun to fight, it just shows that you can be victimized not only by drivers but by their insurers, even where the police properly do their job.

(Incidents like this are extremely frequent at this intersection, either with cars making right turns onto Schrader from the left lane or cars exiting Schrader onto Washington and plowing through whatever is in their way–there are no stop signs.)” — Andy Moss

A few days pass when our first Enforcer provides this comment in response to one from the original poster (OP):

Then you also know that you shouldn’t be discussing this case in an online forum. — Duppie

Andy Moss said:

It’s a damn good thing I am a lawyer who specializes in suing insurance companies….  The Active Trans suggestion is helpful.

Our second Enforcer decides to drop this line:

“Not a very good one then…

Every, SINGLE, attorney I know who specializes in active transportation law suits, as well as any attorney I have ever known recommends never, ever, talking about the accident or case on any public forum.  As an attorney you should know just how much damage a poorly worded, rash or misconstrued statement can do to a court case.

Have them contact a competent attorney who specializes in these things; several are on this forum and advertise on it.

Preserve all evidence.  Get a good estimate but have no repairs made until the attorney OKs them.” — NotoriousDUG

But the curious thing is that this Enforcer is one of the participants in the previous thread regarding police officer whose behavior would found to be so disturbing by several of the posters. Why does the OP of this thread warrant being chastised for speaking out about his friend’s situation when the previous posting seemed to raise few if any eyebrows?

I asked the following question of NotoriousDUG:

“Curious whether this sort of rationale applies to threads where people are complaining about a police officer who appears to be using unnecessary force when dealing with cyclists who are reportedly in the bike lane but complaining about the intrusion of the vehicle of the off-duty officer?

My immediate reaction when I read that thread was “why not report the incident to the police rather than air it on this forum?” And especially since the kinds of remarks made about police in general were rather ugly. In fact on their Facebook site it was especially regrettable. I note after just looking that the ugliest remark about “hating cops” in that thread seems to have been expunged.

But again the question needs to be addressed, why was that thread on this forum allowed to continue without there being any similar kinds of admonishments from you? I ask in the interest of fairness to all parties including the police officer who was probably discussed here before ever hearing anything from his superiors.

His union representative would probably be quite eager to get copies of that thread, don’t you think?” — Beezodog

Yet another Enforcer appears. Better late than never I guess:

“Please don’t muck up this thread with your bitter personal vendettas relating to mysterious other discussions that only the individual targeted by your harassment would be aware of. For someone who’s been kicking around the ‘net for so many years and even had their own website, what, 15 years ago(?), you seem to have a really hard time understanding how a discussion board functions.” — h’

Evidently he/she was not around for the first thread regarding police activity. Otherwise it would be difficult to think I had a “bitter personal vendettas relating to mysterious other discussions”. But I tried to clear this up by responding in this fashion:

“There is nothing mysterious about the reference. It is to the thread begun on 12 July by Justyna, titled “Reckless Driver on Milwaukee near California“. And as I said before it was because one of the early participants in that thread was NotoriousDUG. Given the fact that he works with Justyna and that the thread had some responses which I frankly felt were indeed “bitter personal vendettas” against police officers in general it seemed that there might have been someone like yourself coming forward to urge restraint until all the facts were in.

I am certain that NotoriousDUG probably appreciates the sensitive nature of the discussions that went on in this forum (in that thread) as well as the Facebook thread that developed.

Being the owner of a business that has the potential to service the Chicago Police Department would make me leery of having my name on threads that in any way seemed disrespectful of the CPD regardless of whether I had made the remarks or not. I think it is incumbent upon the thread starter to at least give pushback to those opinions which do not reflect their own.” — Beezodog

NotoriousDUG acknowledged that the original thread had some responses where were probably inappropriate to put it mildly. I wrote the following in an attempt to explain why the first thread was so problematic for me:

“The reason that the thread seemed more than simply trying to find a witness was due to the characterizations given:

“Based upon the description, behavior is unacceptable.  However, anyone ever considered that he was not off-duty but undercover and was actually looking for the guy he “stopped”?  Just saying’.” – Lisa Curcio

“Even if on duty the reckless behavior of the officer was endangering others.  He was also in a car that was obviously not a city vehicle and I doubt an undercover officer is going to be wearing a badge around his neck.” – NotoriousDUG

He was not out looking for anyoneHe apparently was annoyed at the left-turning vehicle in front of him, and used the bike lane to get around. Never mind that there was a large group of cyclists in the bike lane. That’s when I saw him, plow into the cyclists for no apparent reason. One of the cyclists took exception to this and yelled something at the guy, and that’s when he singled him out, followed, and eventually forced him off the bike.” – Justyna

I plan to call their Internal Affairs office. I didn’t do it today, because I was hoping that another witness got the license plates number. Regrettably, no one did. However, I have a very good description of the driver, and I did follow his antics the whole way, as I was driving immediately behind him. I did not want to write a long essay on Facebook, but it was very scary and reckless behavior, regardless of whether the cyclist had actually done anything wrong — he did not. Even when he was pushed against the car by the cop, he maintained his composure, and was just trying to diffuse the potentially explosive situation. I’m really glad that no one was hurt. This cop endangered easily a half a dozen cyclists by forcing them out of the bike lane and into oncoming traffic. I narrowly missed hitting one myself with my vehicle, because he appeared out of nowhere trying to get out of the way. I really couldn’t stop and take notes, because I had two kids with me in the car.” – Justyna

These are just a smattering of the postings made to the thread. If this police officer is reprimanded by his superiors it might seem that these thread entries are prejudicial. And if the union representative needed any further ammunition having entires like “I hate cops. I just do” are like red meat to a carnivore.

As a business owner that has the potential to serve the Chicago Police Department’s Cycling Patrol it would seem judicious to not antagonize anyone there. That more than anything really caused me to wonder about the wisdom of this thread in the first instance.

It seems to me that at the very least showing some sort of verbal restraint in areas like this is necessary. I would hate to see a legitimate complaint tossed out merely because of the tenor of the conversation here on a thread started by the very person who was lodging the complaint. And yes it might very well be of interest to anyone seeking to defend that officer.

Why? Because the comments appear to describe a general environment in which negative motives have been attributed to the officer by people who appear to in some cases have little or no regard for the person “on the job”. In fact if you were looking for people to serve as witnesses, anyone responding from this thread would appear to be from a witness pool which was not unbiased.

notoriousDUG said:

The difference there was that the other thread was about finding witnesses where this one is just the telling of the story of the accident and all sorts of details.

I doubt anyone representing that officer would care about anything said here because there is most likely never going to be any charges for them to defend against; do you really think anything is going to happen there?” 

If self-appointed Enforcers are going to appear in the midst of threads they might possibly want to have done their homework. Knowing about the general thread progressions is a good idea.

There is an interesting article on comments left on media website and the seemingly horrible nature of them: