It’s no secret, I don’t like cops. The institution not the people. But I’ve always thought that I was for the most part, treated in a manner that was at least borderline acceptable – until yesterday . . .
So, we were working yesterday to get the people staying at Token Creek to their new location at Portage Rd. For once, we have a neighborhood that has been very cool, only one upset landlord who doesn’t live there, other wise people welcomed the campers, stopped by to meet them and were generally cool. Token Creek still needs a lot of clean up but hopefully the stuff left will be just frozen to the ground and we can’t remove it – including several tents and tarps and other things. Anyways, I digress.
When we got to Portage Road we notice an unusually high number of police cruising by – more than we ever saw anyplace else. 4 in the first hour. And a constant presence all day. At one point two cop cars drove up – parked the wrong way on the street – looking like they has just swooped in in a hurry. But they were just stopping by to say hello and mention that a neighbor had a chainsaw stolen out of the back of his truck and if we had it we should just put it on the side of the road and they would come pick it up. We asked where, they said within walking distance and pointed north. I couldn’t help pointing out that a) we were a little busy if she hadn’t notice and that b) I highly doubt anyone would have walked in that direction out of town. And I didn’t point out that we are in the middle of a field, I think someone would have noticed someone carrying a chain saw to their tent. Absurd.
Anyways, apparently a dude in an unmarked car was busy running the license plates of anyone who came to the site to help. I don’t think they have done that to us at any of the other 27 locations we have been at. Anyways, as I pulled away, I got pulled over.
I figured I was speeding or something . . . but no . . .
Cop: Do you know why I pulled you over?
Cop: I was randomly running license plates and it appears that your driver’s license is suspended.
BK: No it’s not. Why would it be suspended?
Cop: I don’t know – do you know?
BK: The only thing I can think of is unpaid parking tickets.
Cop: They wouldn’t do it for that, I don’t know, I’ll go check it out.
I immediately check my unpaid parking tickets, but the last one was from February 11th and I hadn’t even gotten the notice that I was late paying and the fine went up (It just arrived in the mail and I hadn’t opened it yet.) So that wasn’t it. So what was it? What was he talking about?
I also get my registration out of my glove box because they just sent that to me in the last month as well and I look at that for clues.
Cop: Your license is suspended, that’s what the computer says, so here is your ticker for $112 and 3 points.
BK: What’s it suspended for?
Cop: The computer doesn’t tell me, but it is likely an unpaid traffic ticket.
BK: I haven’t gotten pulled over for anything in years.
Cop: I don’t know, that is what the computer is telling me, I have to go by the computer.
BK: But I swear, my license is not suspended, wouldn’t I know?
Cop: Maybe its a mistake, it happens all the time.
BK: Well, if its a mistake, why are you giving me a ticket?
Cop: I have to go by what is in the computer. It’s probably a mistake and it will get straightened out.
BK: But I swear, I don’t know what this is about, I’m not aware of my license being suspended.
Cop: Sorry, I have to go by what is in the computer, mistakes happen all the time.
BK: I just got my registration renewed in February. (I show him the registration)
Cop: That has nothing to do with this.
BK: So, you want me to take off work, go in sit in the municipal court for hours to straighten this out?
Cop: All I can do is go by what is in the computer.
BK: (I’m getting agitated now.) Come on, you have discretion, you obviously know who I am, and you know I just came from Occupy – what’s going on? (I was thinking, if he thinks it is a mistake, why is he still giving me a ticket.)
Cop: You better find someone with a valid license to drive you home.
And with that, he walks away.
Hmmmmmmmmmm . . . so he did know who I was and that I was with Occupy . . . I could tell by the look on his face.
WAIT, WHAT JUST HAPPENED?
First of all, it never even crossed my mind that they were running our plates because we were helping Occupy – they haven’t done that before in any of the locations that we have been in. Or maybe they have and I just don’t know – but wouldn’t they have seen my suspended driver’s license then? The police have been mostly supportive and nice to us up to this point. Why would he randomly run my plates? I should have asked that in the first place. Afterwards, others said they say this guy in his unmarked car sitting there for hours. I hadn’t noticed because I wasn’t looking for it and I wasn’t there that long – I was mostly at the old site.
Second of all, I’ve had my driver’s license run by the cops 2 times in the last 5 months – including being arrested and going to jail, why didn’t anyone mention this to me at any of those points?
Third of all, have I been driving around with a suspended driver’s license for a few years? Since that is the last time I was pulled over for anything and I thought that was just a warning!
My phone was dying, so I go home and start looking things up in the computer, sure enough, my license is suspended.
→ You are suspended for: Failure to pay a fine or forfeiture
Case ends: 05-24-2014 or when DMV receives acceptable documents showing the fine or forfeiture has been paid.
For Questions Contact: MADISON CITY MUNICIPAL COURT (information follows)
MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS
Well, I certainly have questions! What the hell is this about? The court case has a MTF in it, so that appears to be a moving traffic violation. And, the case appears to be from 2011. I can remember getting pulled over by the police three times in the last 20 years. Once on Packers Ave when I was speeding (10 years ago?) One on W. Washington, when I was speeding – only got a seat belt ticket (6 years ago?) And once in front of the city/county building where I didn’t have the sticker on my car – it said the last time I registered my plates we in 2004 or 2005. Someone had come by and scraped the sticker off my plates, it had been happening to others in the area and the date was so old, I thought they just gave me a warning – that’s what Rob remembers too (that was in the last 2 – 4 years, since I have been off the council.) I can’t think of anything else. I would think I would remember getting pulled over by the cops.
Now I just have more questions. Have I really been driving around with a suspended driver’s license for years? If I had an unpaid ticket, wouldn’t they send me something in the mail telling me I have an upaid ticket? Wouldn’t I get a notice from the DMV about a suspended drivers license? Wouldn’t they have mentioned it to me when I went there (I thought in the last two years) to fix the parking ticket issue – bringing them proof I had paid my parking tickets? Why did they just renew my registration? Why wasn’t this mentioned when they gave us tickets at Lake View Hill, surely they would have been happy to embarrass me in that way. Why wasn’t it mentioned by the cop when he was giving me a ticket in the city-county building last week? Why didn’t the officer that took my license in the jail mention it? Or the sheriff who gave it back to me? Why wasn’t it mentioned when they took my license (and I thought ran it) last August when I gave the police a statement about another matter – that I clearly had to drive home from! Did they all not notice? This sounds weird. Have I really been driving around for a year or two with a suspended driver’s license and not know it? This is crazy. Wouldn’t I know if my driver’s license was suspended?
I honestly don’t know if this is a mistake or something I overlooked, but it seems really odd. It’s not adding up at all in my brain. I just can’t think of what this is about. Maybe it is just a mistake. But that doesn’t answer the question, why were they running my plates in the first place? Why now, after all this time with Occupy? No other cop has noticed this for years, apparently. Whatever is going on, I’m feeling like I was targeted and treated unfairly because I was helping homeless people move to the best location we can find.
Categories: | Madison | Media