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Thread: Skyline Drive: First Time a Victim of Anti-Motorcycle Bias

  1. #1
    Steve rockbottom's Avatar
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    Skyline Drive: First Time a Victim of Anti-Motorcycle Bias

    I was on Skyline Drive yesterday and had been about 100 yards behind a park ranger for around a mile. Then he pulled over, flipped on his lights, and gave me a lecture about how "those things" can "easily speed." Keep in mind I hadn't broken any laws whatsoever. The he demanded to know how far I intended to ride on Skyline (which wasn't really any of his business) and felt compelled to correct my pronunciation of "Luray."

    At the time, I didn't want to get confrontation so I could just continue on, but now that I've stewed about it, I'm considering filing a complaint. I'm a HUGE supporter of law enforcement but the fact is that there is some tiny minority of them who become abusive as a power trip, and this seemed like one.

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    Outlander Omega Man's Avatar
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    Not the first-
    40+ years ago while still on the M/C learner permit, I was pulled over by a registry officer and was harassed for a number of things including too many keys on my M/C keyring
    I'd let it go.
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    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockbottom View Post
    I was on Skyline Drive yesterday and had been about 100 yards behind a park ranger for around a mile. Then he pulled over, flipped on his lights, and gave me a lecture about how "those things" can "easily speed." Keep in mind I hadn't broken any laws whatsoever. The he demanded to know how far I intended to ride on Skyline (which wasn't really any of his business) and felt compelled to correct my pronunciation of "Luray."

    At the time, I didn't want to get confrontation so I could just continue on, but now that I've stewed about it, I'm considering filing a complaint. I'm a HUGE supporter of law enforcement but the fact is that there is some tiny minority of them who become abusive as a power trip, and this seemed like one.
    Is that a state or federal park ranger on the Skyline?
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    Steve rockbottom's Avatar
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    Federal. And my problem with letting it go is that he's likely to just keep on with it until stopped.

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    Registered User selyab's Avatar
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    File a complaint

    I am in my second career now and working for the U.S. government. I can tell you that complaints are one of the things that get a lot of attention by management. Basically everyone in the "food chain" gets a lot visibility on addressing any complaints received by an office. Just be factual and professional. My office is required to document the complaint, investigate and respond to the complainant. So have at it. At the end, you might not get a response that makes you feel like they did much but they will have done more than might think.

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    Club President gsjay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockbottom View Post
    Federal. And my problem with letting it go is that he's likely to just keep on with it until stopped.
    I'd file a complaint............

    jason
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    Registered User cehlbeck's Avatar
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    Like Selyab said, if you felt you were done wrong or mistreated, file the complaint. Now that being said, my last assignment at the police department was in the office of professional standards which handled complaints just like that. Tickets, although NOT your complaint were not complaints and advised to argue that in court.

    What Selyab said is correct, you'll also quite likely also be informed of the result. But know this going in about the result you may get (at least from my or most agencies) is that your complaint was:
    • Unfounded: The incident meaning the encounter or the stop never occurred.
    • Exonerated: Which means it occurred and occurred the way you reported but the officer followed documented agency procedures or operating rules.
    • Sustained: Which means there was a violation of agency procedures or operating rules. You will quite likely NOT be told what disciplinary action was taken.
    • Not Sustained: The was not enough evidence present to show that a work operating procedure or rule was violated or not violated. This does not clear the employee.
    • Exceptionally closed: The employee terminated their own employment or was terminated before and investigation was complete and could not be disciplined, no longer working there.

    A word on not sustained. It means evidence, not statement. A companion's statement who may have been with you carries the same "weight" as an officer who may have been with the accused employee, no more and no less. Most often complaints are "not sustained" as it is basically one persons word against another's.
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    Steve rockbottom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cehlbeck View Post
    Like Selyab said, if you felt you were done wrong or mistreated, file the complaint. Now that being said, my last assignment at the police department was in the office of professional standards which handled complaints just like that. Tickets, although NOT your complaint were not complaints and advised to argue that in court.

    What Selyab said is correct, you'll also quite likely also be informed of the result. But know this going in about the result you may get (at least from my or most agencies) is that your complaint was:
    • Unfounded: The incident meaning the encounter or the stop never occurred.
    • Exonerated: Which means it occurred and occurred the way you reported but the officer followed documented agency procedures or operating rules.
    • Sustained: Which means there was a violation of agency procedures or operating rules. You will quite likely NOT be told what disciplinary action was taken.
    • Not Sustained: The was not enough evidence present to show that a work operating procedure or rule was violated or not violated. This does not clear the employee.
    • Exceptionally closed: The employee terminated their own employment or was terminated before and investigation was complete and could not be disciplined, no longer working there.

    A word on not sustained. It means evidence, not statement. A companion's statement who may have been with you carries the same "weight" as an officer who may have been with the accused employee, no more and no less. Most often complaints are "not sustained" as it is basically one persons word against another's.
    Recognizing the situation LEO are in, I really don't want to get the guy in trouble, just find some way to make him think more carefully. I'm less irritated by him pulling me just to "remind" me not to speed than by the piling on--demanding to know where I was going, etc. With hindsight, I think I would have just said "that's none of your business and if you want to elevate this to the official level, let's do."

    I realize that we're all suffering from the publicity of the New York City motorcycle morons but I'm a middle aged, highly successful professional who was obeying the law and wearing full protective gear. I don't like being stereotyped.

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    Certifiable Old Fart beemerdons's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gsjay View Post
    I'd file a complaint............
    jason
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    Registered User cehlbeck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockbottom View Post
    Recognizing the situation LEO are in, I really don't want to get the guy in trouble, just find some way to make him think more carefully. I'm less irritated by him pulling me just to "remind" me not to speed than by the piling on--demanding to know where I was going, etc. With hindsight, I think I would have just said "that's none of your business and if you want to elevate this to the official level, let's do."

    I realize that we're all suffering from the publicity of the New York City motorcycle morons but I'm a middle aged, highly successful professional who was obeying the law and wearing full protective gear. I don't like being stereotyped.
    It's not always "in trouble". A complaint such as that is often handled at the command or supervisor level and not a full blown internal affairs investigation. Most agencies us a system of "progressive discipline" which often means talking to him or officially known as "oral counseling". Most often it works. They don't know what he's doing good or bad unless people tell them.
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  11. #11
    Steve rockbottom's Avatar
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    OK, I faxed this:

    I am writing to express my concern about an incident that occurred on Skyline Drive the morning of November 2. I was riding a motorcycle on the northern segment of Skyline. For about a mile, I'd been a hundred to hundred and fifty yards behind a park ranger. We were averaging 30-35 MPH. A car pulled out of one of the overlooks in front of me and was going well below the speed limit. I was in a legal passing zone so I passed the car and continued at my previous pace.

    About a quarter mile further along the ranger turned on his lights and pulled me. In his words he wanted to "remind me" that "those things can go fast." He did not write a citation.

    Three things bother me about this. One was being pulled when I had broken no laws. But more than that, I was irritated that the ranger demanded to know where I intended to exit Skyline (which wasn't really any of his concern) and then felt compelled to correct me when I mispronounced "Luray." I did not make an issue of this at the time because I wanted to continue on but was deeply bothered by it.

    To me this seems like an issue where I was painted with a broad brush because of the misdeeds of some motorcyclists. I am not one of the New York City motorcycle hooligans--I am a middle aged professional, a Department of Defense official (my bike had a DoD sticker on it), was wearing full protective gear, and, most importantly, had broken no laws.

    I am a great supporter of law enforcement and do not wish to take any formal action. I realize what a tough and vitally important job the ranger has and am thankful for his service. But I would encourage him to think more carefully about stereotyping.

  12. #12
    na1g
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    Good for you, rockbottom! It would have been easier to just let it go but making the effort may be making a difference.

    I suspect somebody in the National Park Service will be interested enough to read your note carefully and take appropriate steps, if any. Park rangers have a carefully crafted image (Smokey the Bear) and one bad apple will harm that image.

    pete
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    Mars needs women! 35634's Avatar
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    Had the same thing happen to around Mt Rushmore. I was picking off motohomes one by one and a ranger or sheriff or hiwaypatrolman pulled me over and lectured how dangerous these things were. It was close to Sturgis time of year and I just figured he had his fill of biker carnage. Meanwhile all the motorhomes I had been passing for the last hour went rolling by us . I'm sure he enjoyed his little power trip and it really wasn't any big deal to me.
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  14. #14
    Registered User 36654's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockbottom View Post
    Federal. And my problem with letting it go is that he's likely to just keep on with it until stopped.
    The guy works for you (I assume you aren't in the witness protection program). As such, his management needs to know that he acted like a twit.
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    Certifiable Old Fart beemerdons's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by na1g View Post
    Good for you, rockbottom! It would have been easier to just let it go but making the effort may be making a difference.

    I suspect somebody in the National Park Service will be interested enough to read your note carefully and take appropriate steps, if any. Park rangers have a carefully crafted image (Smokey the Bear) and one bad apple will harm that image.

    pete
    "Be yourself. Everybody else is already taken." -Oscar Wilde
    Very nice work rockbottom: Beautifully crafted and efficiently written, I sincerely hope your fax soon elicits a response from the National Park Service!
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