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Traffic Tickets—What a Pain Every police officer is issued a traffic summons book when he is assigned to a district. The supervisors have what we used to call a quota on tickets issued. When an officer is assigned to the traffic division, he is expected to write at least eight moving violations a shift. But that is all he has to do; he doesn’t handle any crime scenes or domestic disturbances or whatever else comes along. On occasion, he has to handle a traffic accident, but that’s about all. Don’t get me wrong. I hated to write tickets, especially moving violations like red lights, speeding, or no left turn. Parking tickets were also a pain in the ass; all they accomplish is that the poor soul that gets the ticket now hates you. I guess that they are a necessity though, and maybe in some way they help keep drivers from getting too crazy behind the wheel of their car or truck. Personally, I would rather be out in the street locking up bad guys and harassing gang bangers. Some of these traffic guys really like working traffic, giving out their quota of summons, and putting a few drunk drivers in jail before they kill somebody or themselves. People that get stopped by the police for a traffic violation really come up with some original excuses. I remember an elderly lady that we stopped for driving the wrong way on a one-way street. This violation is usually an open-and-shut case. When I asked her for her driver’s license and explained why we had stopped her, she called me a liar and asked why wasn’t I out chasing down dope dealers or communists instead of bothering a woman alone in a car trying to get home. 20 DON HERION No matter what I said to her, she had a look of hate in her eyes; and if she had a gun, she would have shot me dead. When I began opening the summons book to write her the ticket, she pulled an acting job on me that was a beauty. The first thing she did was to roll her eyes up in her head and then grab her heart like she was going to have a heart attack right there. Well, needless to say, she hit the right button and her act worked. Even though I knew she was probably faking it, I didn’t want to take a chance of her dropping dead in front of me. I asked her if she needed an ambulance or wanted to be taken to the nearest hospital. She said that she only lived two blocks from there and that her heart pills were in her bathroom. She explained that if she got them, she was sure to be OK. Well, at this point, I was pretty aggravated and couldn’t imagine myself giving this wacky broad mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if she was telling the truth. Of course, I told her that we would be glad to drive her home if she couldn’t drive. She said no, that she felt better, and she thought that she could drive home OK. I said, “OK, lady, under the circumstances, I won’t give you a ticket this time but that you had better be more alert in the future.” I just knew that I made this old broad’s day when she thought she really bullshitted me about the heart attack. To top it off, when she was driving away, she winked at me and said, “Thanks, Officer, have a nice day.” The best part of all is when I got back in the squad car, my partner Bob was just shaking his head and laughing. It seems that he had stopped this old witch in the past for doing the same thing and she pulled the heart attack routine on him too. He admitted that he didn’t want to take a chance and have the old broad drop dead on him either and gave her a pass. The thing that got him was when her eyes went up in her head and all he could see was the whites of her eyes. Later on, we talked to a few of the other guys that were working in that part of the district, and they all had stopped her for doing the same thing, driving the wrong way on a one-way street. They all witnessed her heart attack routine, and none of them gave her a ticket. I thought, your day will come, you old bitty. Not only will I give her a ticket, but I’ll also tow her car. I’m reminded of another traffic story that was really good. This man and woman were traveling at a very high rate of speed north on Lake Shore Drive, about thirty miles per hour over the limit. It was foggy out, and the street was very slick from a misty rain that had THE CHICAGO WAY 21 been falling. The purple Mercedes they were in was brand new, and the sales sticker was still on the window. The man was driving with one hand on the wheel, but the other hand was waving around in the car and even turned into a fist on occasion. The female could also be seen pointing a finger at the man. She even slapped the man on the back of his head. These actions could be seen as their car was being pulled over to the side of the road. When the car stopped, the man driving the car immediately got out and rushed up to the officer getting out of the squad car. The man had his hands in front of him, palm to palm. He pleaded with the officer to please arrest him and put the cuffs on him because he knew that he was speeding and should be put in jail. The man explained that his wife was driving him crazy and was upset because he forbade her to smoke in their new car. It seemed that she was a chain-smoker and the car they just traded in smelled and had burn holes all over the seat from her dropping ashes. The man kept pleading with the officer to arrest him so he could get away from his bitchy wife for a few hours. At this point, the officer spoke to the wife and explained that her husband was very upset and that he might have to arrest him for speeding and tow the car as well. This information seemed to calm her down. She started copping a plea about the way she had acted and swore that she would never try to smoke in the car again. She asked if he would have mercy on her husband. The officer then returned to the husband and told him that he was not going to get a ticket, be arrested, or handcuffed. He would have to go home with his wife and that would be punishment enough for one day. The man then told the officer, “This is not America anymore. I can’t even get arrested for breaking the law.” He said he was moving to Australia as soon as he could. It’s amazing to me how much people hate to get a traffic ticket; they would rather have you beat the hell out of them, I think. The Chicago Police Department had a bad reputation years ago. It was rumored that whenever you would get stopped by the police for a traffic violation, you could pay off the cop and he would let you go. All you had to do was have some money clipped to your driver’s license, and when the cop asked to see your license, he would remove the money and give your license back to you with a warning to be more careful in the future. If that type of thing happened on occasion, I never 22 DON HERION witnessed it. There are probably some cops out there that would risk losing their job and maybe even go to jail for a few bucks, but the old saying is “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” Once while working on street tracking and trailing some outfit guy, I violated more traffic laws in one day than the average citizen did in his lifetime. Tailing a bad guy is an art all by itself. I had five undercover cars with car-to-car radios all set up to follow this one juice guy who was going to meet his boss, Rocky Infelise. We set up on this goof at 5:00 am just to make sure that we wouldn’t miss him. He left his house about 7:45 am and got in his car and just sat there for ten minutes, looking up and down the street. Next, a woman in jogging clothes came out of the house and began running down the street. In a few minutes, the same woman ran up to the juice guy’s car and talked to him for a minute. She proceeded to sit on her porch while the bad guy left. His wife or girlfriend was watching for any cars that might start following him. If she spotted any squad cars in the area, she would call him on

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