Phoenix Police Fail

On the way to work today, which is normally only a 5-minute drive for me, there was a small fender-bender among a couple of cars.  The cars did exactly what you are supposed to do:  they pulled off the road into a nearby parking lot so they would not block traffic.  The police could not be bothered, and just parked in the right lane, jamming traffic up for a mile or so.  I looked - there was no debris or anything in the road that they were trying to block (you can confirm that from the picture below), the police simply did not have the common courtesy that the other drivers had.

Yes, the police car below is actually parked and unoccupied in the right lane at morning rush hour.  The citizens involved can be seen pulled into the parking lot at the left.  Though it is hard to see from the picture, the traffic backup extends well into the distance.


  1. Chris Byrne:

    That's actually policy, as part of an officer protection strategy.

    I've talked to Phoenix cops about it before.

  2. ruralcounsel:

    Then it's a stupid policy, because the police vehicle should be parked to best block other vehicles from hitting the disabled vehicles and any personnel attending to that accident. Not just jutting out into or blocking traffic unless the accident was still in that lane, which it clearly isn't. Creating an unecessary traffic jam and forcing lane mergers just raises the chances of a second accident.

    But policy is the usual excuse for lack of thinking, common sense, and initiative. It's the modern replacement for taking responsibility for one's actions; we're all treated like imbecilic children nowadays. Even the police.

  3. me:

    Argh. Priorities set just like you'd expect them to: protect a few officers and their really important job to stand around doing nothing at the site of a fender bender while following written directives. Instead of maintaining flow of traffic and using their own judgement (priorities for traffic cops in another country I am intimately familiar with). But I shouldn't cringe... as so often, it's the process, not the people.

  4. Slocum:

    I've seen so many different instances of police blocking traffic and creating hazards for other motorists *and themselves*, that I've been forced to conclude that the power to inconvenience large numbers of people at their whim is just another of the perceived perks of being a cop.

  5. Douglas2:

    I recently made a journey on a day with particularly bad weather for driving -- both fog and ice. In the course of travel on interstate highways through 4 metropolitan areas, I noted that when traffic was slowed because of a weather-related accident, there were very often associated fender-benders in the tailback.

    I surmised that there are often large speed differentials between lanes as such tailbacks form and clear, and that there is a higher frustration-level that might lead to more risk taking behavior by drivers.

    Anyway, the actions of the police in this case, while they may be arguably better for the safety of the officers, are unambiguously detrimental to the safety public.

  6. terrence:

    This is nothing more than STUPID, IGNORANT, and DUMB. The cop is a sociopath - screwing around as many PEASANTS as he/she/it can. Unfortunately I see this sort of crap a lot - in many US and Canadian towns and cities. PIGS are PIGS!

  7. Bram:

    It always amazes me that keeping rush-hour traffic moving just isn't a priority to police.

  8. Anonymous Mike:

    Living int he Washington DC area I see alot of this in both Maryland and Virginia; police will pull over a car and they will be stopped int he right-hand lane in a fairly busy street though there side streets and parking lots around. The result is of course backing up traffic. I was pulled over in Arlington one time for a no turn on red, my fault and I didn't get a ticket, but the the cop was indignant on why i didn't pull over to the curb right away.

    Driving along I-270 and the Beltway in heavy traffic I will see cops pull people over and I always exclaim to my passengers that the driver better have murdered someone because a) that little traffic stop by the cop just backed traffic up for miles b) What can you do to get pulled over during rush hour traffic? It's too busy

    Yet another reason to avoid this area like the plague

  9. el coronado:

    Just see comment #1, y'all. It's "policy", in order to "protect the officers". If that inconveniences you mere peasants, well...that's just too damn bad. If there were any questions left about this, I trust it's finally clear: The Noblemen of The State are more important than we are, and their safety is FAR more important tan our little problems.

  10. Roy:

    If this is true ( I think it is, with the operant word being safety):
    "the actions of the police in this case, while they may be arguably better for the safety of the officers, are unambiguously detrimental to the safety public"
    then I think the solution is:
    Sue the police dept for culpable negligence if involved in an accident caused by that negligence.

    It's not than I can think of no other efficient way to get a policy change on actions which seriously endanger the lives and health of those whom police say they protect. It's that I can think of no other way.

    Even if I think it stupid, since they can easily ask people to get off the road, I'm willing to tolerate officers risking their own lives where the location means danger to themselves. They know the risks (it's newspaper knowledge that officers get killed by getting rear ended in such stops); they take the job. But I utterly will not grant as moral insisting that everyone else join them in their choice, both those whom they stop, and all the passing traffic.

  11. eCurmudgeon:

    Food for thought: If there are no injuries, and both cars can be moved, then why are the police involved at all?

    Shouldn't this be a matter for the insurance companies to resolve (i.e. rather than sending out a police car, send an insurance adjuster(s) instead)?

  12. Not Sure:

    "If there are no injuries, and both cars can be moved, then why are the police involved at all?"

    The possibility of finding something drug related, giving them the justification they're looking for in order to take stuff away from people and keep for themselves?

    What do I win? ;)

  13. Ian Random:

    I have seen this way too much even on I-5. Hell, I've seen a fire truck that is safely off the road leave its traffic blocker light on. And a block away and cause a traffic jam from turning all the lights red. I think at times they forget they are public servants.

  14. W. C. Taqiyya:

    You all win a prize for being correct. I was once pulled over in NC (speeding) and the cop was very upset with me because I 'dallied' for half a mile until I saw a safe spot to get off the busy highway. It took a couple minutes to reassure him that I was not Jack the Ripper and he calmed down and put his gun away. If I had stopped, as he wanted, in the left lane of the busy two lane road the traffic jam would have been EPIC! However, the cop was nice and told me I could plead to 15 miles less over the limit than I was really going so the penalty wouldn't be huge. I was really moving. So kids, smile at the nice police man, look him in the eyes in a non-threatening manner, address him as sir or officer, keep your hands on the wheel, move slowly, have papers clipped to the visor so you don't need to reach into or under anything. If you follow these procedures and have a pale complexion, you might just survive your next police encounter.