During a time when the Delray Beach Police Department is working to improve community relations, they are sabotaging their own efforts by infuriating the locals and creating traffic hazards. Several times a day, police officers use their discretion on whether to pull over a car for a traffic violation. I know this because I have watched police ignore obvious traffic violations that happen right in front of them. That discretion should be measured by the safety risk that is created by a violator’s actions.
Although this post is going to pick on one aspect of the Delray Beach Police Department, in my opinion, the police department is run very well and quite frankly, the crime rate (crimes with actual victims) in the area described in this post is very low compared to many other local cities. This is not an “anti-police” blog post and is meant as a helpful suggestion for the Delray Beach Police.
Just three weeks ago I witnessed an unmarked police car (no lights or siren) speed past me (illegally) in an active school zone going South on Seacrest/NE 2nd Avenue; a marked Delray Beach Police car properly lit him up and went after him. I watched as the police officer pulled the car over on NE 22nd Street, just East of NE 2nd Avenue. They talked and joked for 2 minutes and the police officer let the unmarked car (likely a detective) go on his way. This was in an active school zone for which the unmarked police car sped through without any lights and was clearly not on a call. A local resident would not have been treated with the same jovial laughter from the police officer, but instead with a ticket cost in excess of $200 plus points on their license.
Last Saturday, October 3, 2015, between 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., Delray Beach Police Officer Mitchell (#0947) sat in his patrol car at the low-traffic intersection of North Swinton Avenue and NE 22nd Street which is located in a residential area of the city by Unity School. This intersection has had only one minor accident in 2015, which resulted in minor injuries that did not give rise to concern for anyone needing to go to the hospital. So this is not a dangerous intersection.
Residents were awakened that morning by Officer Mitchell’s constant sound of his police car siren during the 7 times he pulled someone over for apparently not stopping at one of the intersection’s Stop signs. Mitchell spent the two hours pulling people over for not “properly” stopping at the intersection’s Stop signs by at least 3 seconds. One local resident who received a $166 ticket and wanted to remain anonymous, told me, “I stopped for 1 second instead of 3 at that sign and there were no other cars stopped or coming in any direction.” Although the city did not know at the time of this posting how much it collected from Officer Mitchell’s two hours, it is my understanding the city receives $75 for each of the traffic citations and if that holds true then Officer Mitchell raised $525 for the city, minus vehicle and his labor costs.
I took video of Officer Mitchell that morning pulling people over for not stopping properly at the Stop signs, and the video shows his actions created an even greater traffic hazard. As a result of him pulling people over, it forced dozens of vehicles to go in the opposite direction lanes of the roadway where traffic was coming at them. It was quite the scene during three of his 7 traffic stops. Those two hours Officer Mitchell spent did not increase safety in the city, it made that area’s street less safe. It also created ill-will between residents and the police force. For each hour Officer Mitchell or any police officer, spends on victimless “crimes” is an hour not spent on solving/preventing crimes with actual victims, such as rape, murder, burglary, assault, fraud, etc.
Perhaps most interestingly, I watched four police cars this week roll right through this same intersection, ignoring the Stop signs and acting as if they are Yield signs. Not one time did I witness a police officer stop for even 1 second let alone the 3 seconds Office Mitchell expected of drivers last Saturday morning. Delray Beach Police has their training center in the area and police cars roll through this intersection many times a day. Perhaps Delray Beach residents should start taking down police car numbers and give police officers traffic citations when the police blatantly violate the law.
This type of one set of rules for the police and one set of rules for the residents will not be tolerated and goes against Police Chief Jeffrey Goldman’s work to partner with the community in a positive way. Hopefully, moving forward, taxpayer money will be better spent on solving crimes with actual victims in Delray Beach rather than harassing residents when they are not creating a safety risk to the community.