Blogosphere Criticizes Mass. Police Dept. for Enforcing Crosswalk Laws
We have all kinds of laws that hardly any police agency ever enforces. When a police department actually does enforce a traffic law, the blogosphere and YouTubers howl with indignity. Such is the case with the Somerville Police Department's enforcement of existing Massachusetts crosswalk laws. The video shows a man repeatedly crossing the street in the busy city of Somerville, Massachusetts. After three successive crossings -- including one where a 10-wheeled cement mixer fails to stop to allow the pedestrian to cross -- a Somerville cruiser pulls out of a side street, ostensibly to apprehend the violating driver. It's unclear who the guy in the video is. Is he a cop, or is he a volunteer for the po-po, sick of nearly getting run down every time he tries to cross the street? He's a guy crossing the street. RELATED: How Duck Boats Became the Official Vehicle of Boston Championships What is clear is that on this day, the cops in Somerville were actively pursuing crosswalk violators. The cameraman closes the video "...and that is a waste of money," suggesting that enforcement of Massachusetts pedestrian crossing laws is something of a crime in and of itself. The title of the video, "Cop Fishing: Revenue Collection Trap" doesn't leave a whole lot to the imagination, either. PHOTOS: Full Galleries of the 2011 Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle YouTuber savyfide posted the video four days ago in amongst dozens of videos showing police beating suspects, choking 15 year olds and generally losing control while being videotaped, so the agenda here is obvious: that all cops are crooked, and that all attempts to enforce existing statutes are a violation of our civil rights. FreeThoughtProject.com -- a blog which actively solicits stories of police brutality and has an entire section devoted to "Badge Abuse" -- picked up the video and ran with it, noting "Somerville police are using undercover crosswalkers to set up questionable traps at crosswalks throughout the town." The blog goes on to suggest "Obviously a driver can drive through a crosswalk while simultaneously remaining cautious and being aware of pedestrians." Here's the story, though: Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 89, Section 11 states
"When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be so to yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk marked in accordance with standards established by the department of highways if the pedestrian is on that half of the traveled part of the way on which the vehicle is traveling or if the pedestrian approaches from the opposite half of the traveled part of the way to within 10 feet of that half of the traveled part of the way on which said vehicle is traveling. No driver of a vehicle shall pass any other vehicle which has stopped at a marked crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross, nor shall any such operator enter a marked crosswalk while a pedestrian is crossing or until there is a sufficient space beyond the crosswalk to accommodate the vehicle he is operating, notwithstanding that a traffic control signal may indicate that vehicles may proceed. Whoever violates any provision of this section shall be punished by a fine of not more than $200."Nationally, about 5,000 pedestrians are killed by cars annually, and 70,000 are injured after being struck by cars. Pedestrians at busy crossings in Massachusetts are particularly vulnerable. Just a few weeks ago, in fact, a Boston Red Sox video producer and his girlfriend were killed after being hit by a car at the intersection of Beacon and Fairfield streets. PHOTOS: Full Galleries of the 2013 AC Schnitzer BMW ACS4 2.8i Police Coupe The very real life-and-limb consequences of not stopping for pedestrians in traffic are quite a bit different than enforcing speed laws on lonely stretches of road that were put in place before the advent of radial tires and disc brakes. Maybe citing drivers for passing stopped school buses is a violation of our civil rights, too. PRESS PLAY below to see the entire video. What are your thoughts on enforcement like this?