Los Ageles, CA: Elton Simmons has conducted more than 25,000 traffic stops in the past 20 years as a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy. But what's remarkable, his supervisors say, is counting all of the complaints lodged against him over those two decades.
The tally: Zero. The last time 53-year-old Simmons received a complaint was in 1992, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The lack of grievances seems practically unheard of for a law enforcement officer who deals daily with the public, handing out tickets in situations that can escalate into heated exchanges.
With no complaints marring Simmons' record for so long, "Vegas or MIT could not give you the odds of the statistical probability of that," Capt. Pat Maxwell, who reviewed his personnel file recently, told CBS. Simmons spends his hours patroling on a motorcycle with a radar gun - akin to the 70s TV show "CHiPs." While he doesn't shirk writing tickets, he said, he follows a golden rule learned from a pastor in his native Louisiana: "Do good, be good, treat people good."
"I'm here with you," Simmons told CBS News about the citizens he comes across. "I'm not up here. One thing I hate is to be looked down on - I can't stand it - so I'm not going to look down at you."
Simmons' affable approach appears to endear him with motorists, some of whom end up apologizing for their lack of care.
"You know what it is, it's his smile," ticketed driver Mike Viera told CBS News. "He's got a great smile. He's a nice guy. How could you be mad at that guy?"
"Never so happy to get a ticket in my life," said another driver who was slapped with a summons.
Drivers often trot out excuses when they're pulled over, ranging from being unfamiliar with the area to racing because they need a bathroom, Simmons said.
In one case, a nervous 19-year-old was stopped for speeding and told the deputy he was late for work.
Simmons gave him a warning, and asked him - in a fatherly way - to slow down, the Los Angeles Times said.
Other cops hoping to avoid complaints can learn a lesson from Simmons, his superiors said.
"Their excuse is, 'Well, I give tickets all day long, I'm going to get complaints,'" Maxwell told CBS News. "Well, that's not true. There is a way to do it - and Elton Simmons is the way."
SAN JOSE -- Being mayor of America's 10th-largest city doesn't necessarily earn you a break from the black-and-whites when you're motoring about town, as San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed found out Tuesday morning when a cop ticketed him for a traffic violation on his way to work.
Reed's office confirmed the mayor got a ticket at 7:35 a.m. for failing to use his turn signal at the intersection of North White and Mabury roads, 2.3 miles from his northeast San Jose home, while driving his Toyota Prius hybrid to City Hall.
Reed's spokeswoman said the mayor was in the right-turn lane heading south on North White Road when an officer in a standard marked San Jose police sedan pulled him over and cited him for a violation of California Vehicle Code Section 22108. The Department of Motor Vehicles says that code section requires that "any signal of intention to turn right or left shall be given continuously during the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning."
A DMV spokeswoman said Reed had no previous violations on his driving record.
"I am a cautious driver, and this was my first ticket in decades," Reed said in a statement through his office.
His spokeswoman said Reed hasn't decided whether to contest the citation, which she said carries a $35 fine, or to consider traffic school as an alternative to resolve the violation.
Reed's ballot measure to reduce city pensions whose costs have more than tripled in a decade drew
Actually, Plaxico Burress got his speeding ticket back in early September, but it's easier to keep these things quiet when you're not actually an NFL player. Burress has a November court date for his ticket, which he garnered in Broward County, Fla. (He owns a home in Lighthouse Point.) According to Gossip Extra, Burress was pulled over for doing 50 mph over the 55 mph speed limit, and doing it on a motorcycle.
The ticket will cost him $1,000, which we assume he can cover, but who knows? He owes a whole bunch in back taxes, and had a lien placed on his house over the summer. Add that to a series of increasingly desperate pleas to NFL teams to give him a shot, and...well, if anyone wants to start an Indiegogo for Plax's traffic ticket, probably wouldn't say no.
The 911 call Justin Bieber made when paparazzi were following him on Friday has been released, and in it the teen singing sensation can be heard telling a dispatcher that photographers were again pursuing him recklessly on a Los Angeles freeway.
He also says police who ticketed him earlier — when he had been trying to evade the pursuing paparazzi — were "not nice" when he was trying to explain what was going on.
In the recording, which was obtained by radio station LA96.3FM and posted on TMZ, Bieber sounds tentative as he tells the dispatcher: "Um, I have like, five cars following me," he said.
The dispatcher asks the 18-year-old star his name, and he replies: "Justin."
When she asks for his last name, he pauses, then answers, "Johnson."
Bieber made the call after he was ticketed earlier that day for speeding, and he's said he was driving fast to evade the aggressive paparazzi.
In that incident, police stopped the "Boyfriend" singer in his sports car a $100,000 Fisker Karma and gave him a ticket for driving more than 65 miles per hour.
In his 911 call, Bieber tells the dispatcher that the same paparazzi who had been pursuing him earlier were tailing him again as he was headed to work.
"They're driving really reckless. They just will not stop following me," he said.
The dispatcher asked him if he had been pulled over earlier, and he said he was, but then explained his side of the story:
"I was driving fast so that I could try to get away from them and I got pulled over myself," he said. "When I explained to the police officers, they were being, like, not nice about it.
"They were just like, 'You waive your rights to privacy when you're a celebrity.' But that makes absolutely no sense when they're the ones being dangerous," he said.
Dennis Zine, a Los Angeles City Councilman who witnessed Bieber trying to evade paparazzi before being ticketed, said the pop star was driving recklessly.
He said he believes the heartthrob should be arrested.
"As I watched, I was anticipating a crash," Zine said. "It was chaos. Total willful disregard for people on the roadway."
Plaxico Burress is the epitome of the athlete who had it all in his hands and threw it all away with an insanely stupid move. (For those who can't recall: In November 2008, the former NFL receiver shot himself in the leg in a club, which even now sounds like a fake scandal story generated by some gossip-spewing robot.)
We bring up that story because everyone will always bring up that story until Burress cures cancer, walks on water or -- heaven forbid -- does something even dumber. And not so long ago, Burress gave the third option his best shot, driving a cool 125 mph in Broward County, Fla. That's 70 mph over the posted speed limit, and that's the kind of speed that draws notice from on high.
Notice, perhaps, but not an attention to detail. According to TMZ, Burress' attorney noticed that the officer who caught Burress cited the incorrect law in writing the ticket. The officer corrected the error, but only after the fact. Free on a technicality, everyone!
See, this is a great deal for Plax, but a problem for the rest of us trying beat -- er, take a closer look at -- our speeding tickets. They're going to pay a lot more attention to the bureaucratic details now, the same way they almost never put the wrong court date on there anymore. Alas.
In unrelated news, Burress remains unemployed. Though if an NFL team called him, he'd apparently be able to get into camp in a hurry.
Syracuse, NY – More than 1,900 speeding tickets were issued to motorists on the New York State Thruway during the recent statewide "Operation Summer Brake" enforcement effort held the last week of August.
State troopers issued more than 990,000 tickets in 2011, said Sgt.Thomas Ferritto.
While troopers make up less than 6 percent of the law enforcement personnel in the state, in an average year they made about 30 percent of all driving while intoxicated arrests and issued 47 percent of all citations for violation of seat belt and child seat laws, and 55 percent of all speeding tickets, he said.
CLARKSTOWN New York— A Haverstraw man faces several criminal charges after he allegedly assaulted a New York State Trooper during a weekend traffic stop.
Calvin R. Jefford, 25, of Haverstraw was stopped on Route 303 in Rockland County about 11:40 p.m. Saturday and found to be intoxicated, police said. He struggled with an arresting trooper, allegedly assaulting the trooper, while a passenger also attempted to interfere with the arrest, police said. The trooper was not seriously injured.
Jefford was charged with assault on an officer, a felony in New York, driving while intoxicated, second-degree obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest, misdemeanors.
His passenger, Kerry A. McIntyre, 30, of Garnerville was charged with second-degree obstructing governmental administration, a misdemeanor, and disorderly conduct, a violation.
By Glenn Ruppel
Every driver hates getting a ticket. So when you are pulled over, how do you minimize the damage to your wallet?
First, realize the risk of serious danger to the officer is quite real.
"Cops get killed on car stops," said Jerry Kane, 53, a retired New York Police Department officer. Kane said if you're pulled over, you should realize the officer will be on high alert.
Watch the full story - including more dramatic secrets from cops and other professions - on "20/20: True Confessions" Friday at 10 p.m. ET
"The most dangerous thing to the cop when he comes up to the car are the hands of someone, because they could hold a weapon," he said.
Drivers and passengers have been known to come out shooting, a fact cops are well aware of as they walk up to your vehicle.
"If he can see everybody's hands, immediately his blood pressure goes down, his pulse gets a bit slower," Kane said. "If it's nighttime, turn on the interior lights in your car. If it's night or day, lower all the windows on your car. … And put your hands up on the steering wheel - high, where the cop can see them."
This may make the officer more understanding and lenient, Kane said.
"If you were gonna get some discretion, you now set up that possibility."
The officer may then ask if you know what you did wrong. Kane said to be apologetic, but don't feel you have to admit anything.
"You can play dumb. You can say, 'What did I do?' And if he tells you what you did, you could say, 'I must have…you know, I just didn't realize it,'" Kane said.
Does it work to cry?
"Only for women," Kane said, laughing.
What if she shows a little leg?
"Since men and women were created, attractive women get more breaks," Kane said.
Finally, do as Kane does: keep your speed less than 10 miles per hour over the limit.
"If you were my brother or my cousin and asked me, that's what I would tell you."
SAN FRANCISCO -- If you have an unpaid traffic ticket that's been gathering dust for three years or more, the state has a deal for you: Pay up during the first six months of 2012, and get 50 percent off.
The one-time discount, authorized by a new state law, is designed to help both delinquent drivers and financially strapped state and local governments.
The Administrative Office of the Courts expects the program to generate $46 million, based on a conservative estimate that 2 percent of the overdue fines will be collected, said Jessica Sanora, manager of the office's Enhanced Collections Unit. That means the current statewide tab is more than $900 million.
"We believe it's due a lot to the economy. Because of the high fines, people are just unable to pay," Sanora said.
The revenue will be divided among the state, cities, counties and courts.
The discounts apply to fines that were due before the start of 2009 for any traffic violation except drunken or reckless driving. They do not cover parking tickets.
Sanora said counties will have the option of limiting the discounts to traffic infractions, like running a red light or speeding, and excluding more serious violations punishable as misdemeanors, like driving with a suspended license.
Traffic tickets are expensive in California because of a plethora of fees and surcharges added by the state and the counties over the years. The biggest is a civil assessment of up to $300 for drivers who fail to pay their fine when it is due or fail to show up in court. That money goes to a statewide fund to support Superior Court operations.
Drivers with unpaid tickets are subject to the government's usual debt-collection practices, including confiscation of state tax refunds.
California offered similar discounts in 1992 and 1996, Sanora said. She said the state collected $15.5 million in 1992 and has no figures available for 1996.
Rockland County, NY - New York troopers say they issued 141 tickets to motorists for having unrestrained or improperly restrained children in their vehicles found during a weekend traffic detail at a state park.
They say the checkpoint Sunday morning at the entrance to Lake Welch State Park in Rockland County showed youngsters lacking required child seats, booster seats, seatbelts or some combination of those.
Drivers were issued tickets returnable to Stony Point Town Court.
State police say the checkpoint tickets are part of a summer-long effort to ensure the safety of children in vehicles.
Coasting down the tree-lined Sprain Brook Parkway outside New York City, State Trooper Imani Kirkland scans his eyes from driver to driver, on the prowl for people violating the state’s ban on using cell phones behind the wheel.
“Got one,” he announces.
Within a moment, Kirkland triggers a switch and the red and blue lights of his unmarked police SUV illuminate. He changes lanes and signals to the driver of the Ford E-250 to pull over.
The driver throws his hands up in exasperation, hurriedly tossing his cell phone to the passenger seat. The attempt to conceal his phone is in vain, as are his desperate arguments that the call was for work. Kirkland issues him a citation.
Kirkland is on the the front lines of a New York state crackdown on distracted driving. As a two-hour ride in his vehicle on a recent afternoon made clear, his is a target-rich environment. Even as many drivers now understand that phone use while behind the wheel is dangerous, they feel powerless to resist in the face of work and social pressures that demand connectivity.
“It’s so second nature for people to use their phones,” Kirkland said. “It’s like a new appendage.”
New York is one of 11 states that bans the use of hand-held phones in cars for all drivers, but that doesn't mean people always cooperate. In a mere two hours on the Westchester County highway, Kirkland ticketed nine drivers. Six said they were using their phone for work. Reactions ranged from resentment to resignation, although some drivers offered bizarre explanations for their phone use. One young woman driving a Honda Odyssey had her eyes glued to her phone’s GPS. She had a corpse and casket in the back of the car.
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