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Police car whizzed past me!!! Frightening! What are they thinking??


Alicia64
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I was on a regular road -- not a freeway -- driving at about 40 mph and within a blink I see in my rearview mirror a cop ZOOMING by me. He whooshed by so fast that our car shook. My 11 year old son was like was like, "I could feel that!"

 

If I go was going 40, the cop had to be going 70 or even 80 to drive that fast. Then I watched as he wove around other cars up ahead of me -- speeding by them.

 

No siren on. None. But his blue flashing lights were on.

 

I told my boys,"there better be something really scary happening or he just put all of our lives in his hands."

 

I want to contact the station and complain. It seemed very, very unsafe and not responsible to me.

 

What do you think I should do?

 

Alley

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Thank your lucky stars that you weren't the one who needed assistance that desperately.

 

I see your point, but can't you see that if he had killed me, my kids and himself that he wouldn't have been able to BE of assistance?

 

This isn't black/white. I know they need to go fast, but that seemed reckless.

 

I've been driving for 34 years and have never had this happen before.

 

Alley

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Call and report the incident--if he had good reason then he isn't in trouble. He'll be reprimanded/reminded about traffic safety during an accident and life will go on.

If he did NOT have good reason, then he is in trouble. As he should be.

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I see your point, but can't you see that if he had killed me, my kids and himself that he wouldn't have been able to BE of assistance?

 

This isn't black/white. I know they need to go fast, but that seemed reckless.

 

I've been driving for 34 years and have never had this happen before.

 

Alley

 

He has special training for those kind of situations. It is like saying that they shouldn't carry weapons because an innocent by stander can be killed. Unfortunately, accidents happen. However an average driver is in a bigger danger of being seriously injured or killed by another average driver who is inattentive or intoxicated, than by a speeding police officer.

 

I'm wondering whether driving with a siren would've been safer overall and what would be his reasons not to have his siren on.

 

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Thank your lucky stars that you weren't the one who needed assistance that desperately.

This! My dd is a medic. Police respond to emergencies that most people can't imagine and she's grateful for their assistance and fast response.

 

70-80 mph is nothing. They are trained to drive safely at high speed and often moderate their speed quite a bit due to traffic patterns which they normally have fairly well memorized.

 

Often, because of their speed, they are the first responders on the scene of any accident, any fire, any medical emergency. No one else has carte blanche to get there that fast. Even ambulances are usually required, except for under the absolute worst of circumstances, to keep it under 65 and well, the patient isn't served well by bumpy roads at high speeds anyway most of the time. Volunteer firefighters will speed, but they can get in trouble for high speed. So, I am thankful that our police officers and sheriff's deputies are given the authority to choose to drive like that when vitally necessary. To be honest, I've really never seen that privilege abused around here. I am sure there are some officers somewhere that do. But, it doesn't happen around here. They get in big trouble for driving high speed when it's not necessary.

 

Due to the driving courses they take, it is exceptionally rare for someone to be killed by a speeding police car. You have a lot more to fear from the other drivers on the road. If you look at the statistics, the civilian driving 65 in a 55 in his pickup truck is FAR more likely to take you out than any police officer.

 

I know it's scary though because it is so startling!

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The department may have a protocol for when officers can speed, and I have no idea if his situation violated that. You certainly could ask.

 

It doesn't seem that dangerous to me to swish by you very fast with his lights on, unless he is darting into oncoming traffic from the other direction.  If you stay in your lane and he speeds past, it should be fine.  The blue lights make it safer because he is alerting people, and in some (not all) states, you were actually supposed to yield to him as an emergency vehicle.  In some states, that is only true if he had his siren on.  If lights alone don't require drivers to yield in your state, he/she may have had the siren off so that you wouldn't have to do so and could just keep driving through. 

 

I personally would not feel that endangered by a police vehicle going that quickly with his blue lights on to alert everyone he is coming through.  But you definitely can give feedback and maybe the department will take it up with him/her if it was a violation of the rules. 

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That is standard protocol here -- lights on, sirens only turned on for lights or if there is an obstruction. When we went on a field trip to the police station, they told the kids that studies had been done and sirens caused more accidents as people scurried to get out of the way, so that most officers were now trained to move quickly through moving traffic instead of trying to get all traffic out of the way.

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[quote name="67_others" post="5678602" timestam

 

I'm wondering whether driving with a siren would've been safer overall and what would be his reasons not to have his siren on.

 

I don't see this as unusual. In Australia the police rarely use their sirens unless they want people to move out of the way because they are rushing to an emergency. Blue lights only and speeding usually indicate chasing another car.... for which sirens are not used here. If they want you to pull over they start up their lights....if you don't pull over they might turn their siren on and off for a second to get your attention but they never leave it on.

 

When we hear sirens here everyone starts pulling to the side of the road because it's associated with emergency vehicles getting to an emergency quickly. If they put them on all the time people would either be pulling off the road unnecessarily or not moving out of the way because they become complacent thinking it's just a speeder the police are trying to pull over.

 

Police cars here rarely chase cars with their sirens blaring....thats only in the movies LOL.

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I've had cops fly past me that quickly on multiple occasions.  Perhaps the traffic was packed in and if he'd had his siren on, everyone would have tried to pull over and caused an accident?  Whatever the reason, having been the person who needed help in the past, I'm glad they have the ability to drive that fast.

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This! My dd is a medic. Police respond to emergencies that most people can't imagine and she's grateful for their assistance and fast response.

 

70-80 mph is nothing. They are trained to drive safely at high speed and often moderate their speed quite a bit due to traffic patterns which they normally have fairly well memorized.

 

Often, because of their speed, they are the first responders on the scene of any accident, any fire, any medical emergency. No one else has carte blanche to get there that fast. Even ambulances are usually required, except for under the absolute worst of circumstances, to keep it under 65 and well, the patient isn't served well by bumpy roads at high speeds anyway most of the time. Volunteer firefighters will speed, but they can get in trouble for high speed. So, I am thankful that our police officers and sheriff's deputies are given the authority to choose to drive like that when vitally necessary. To be honest, I've really never seen that privilege abused around here. I am sure there are some officers somewhere that do. But, it doesn't happen around here. They get in big trouble for driving high speed when it's not necessary.

 

Due to the driving courses they take, it is exceptionally rare for someone to be killed by a speeding police car. You have a lot more to fear from the other drivers on the road. If you look at the statistics, the civilian driving 65 in a 55 in his pickup truck is FAR more likely to take you out than any police officer.

 

I know it's scary though because it is so startling!

Ayup. CEVO & EVOC - courses everyone who drives an emergency vehicle should take.

 

In my area cops get to accident scenes first because of the odd PSAP issues. Ambulances & fire trucks are not limited to 65-70 mph. Well, fire trucks are limited in speed because of their size and weight, not because of a law. Ambulances are regulated by law to X mph above the posted speed limit where X varies according to whether the road is a highway or city street.

 

Studies (and professional experience) have shown that people lose their minds when they hear sirens.

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My stepfather was a police officer. There are times they don't use sirens because they don't want to alert someone that they're coming. Think of a domestic violence or robbery situation where knowing the police are on the way could cause the person to harm another. In cases like that they only use the lights, in order to alert drivers and others to get out of the way.

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I'm baffled by the OP.  I really can't see two sides to this one.

 

You had a police car legally pass you quickly by while clearly on official business  and that means you are the victim of a  reportable incident?

 

 

My stepfather was a police officer. There are times they don't use sirens because they don't want to alert someone that they're coming. Think of a domestic violence or robbery situation where knowing the police are on the way could cause the person to harm another. In cases like that they only use the lights, in order to alert drivers and others to get out of the way.

 

This.

 

For goodness sake, siren is a tool officers use, not a requirement if they want to go on police business.  It can be incredibly useful in some instances, but it's a hazard in others. 

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I was on a regular road -- not a freeway -- driving at about 40 mph and within a blink I see in my rearview mirror a cop ZOOMING by me. He whooshed by so fast that our car shook. My 11 year old son was like was like, "I could feel that!"

 

If I go was going 40, the cop had to be going 70 or even 80 to drive that fast. Then I watched as he wove around other cars up ahead of me -- speeding by them.

 

No siren on. None. But his blue flashing lights were on.

 

I told my boys,"there better be something really scary happening or he just put all of our lives in his hands."

 

I want to contact the station and complain. It seemed very, very unsafe and not responsible to me.

 

What do you think I should do?

 

Alley

 

If he had the blueberries on he was responding to an emergency call.  Speeding by you did not put your life in jeopardy and saying he did is an exaggeration.

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70 in a 40 mph speed zone is not unreasonable for a police car with it's lights on. I suppose each department probably has it's own policies, but that would not be considered unreasonable where I work, at least for a police car, depending on weather and visibility.

 

Sirens are not always used. We use them as we approach intersections and if traffic is not obeying our lights. I will almost never turn a siren on at night and rarely during the day if I am on a straight stretch with no intersections. Many, many studies have showed that siren usage is a hazard. It is not uncommon or considered unreasonable here for an emergency vehicle running lights to ride towards the center line or directly on it. Cars are expected to pull to the right in both lanes.

 

If you really feel the officer was acting in an unsafe manner, call the station and talk to his superior. You can ask about their policies for operating in emergeny mode as well as driver training---I guarantee it is extensive. But please don't be surprised if they politely brush you off; they likely will not consider 70 in a 40 or 45 mph zone in good weather conditions to be excessive speed while in emergency mode.

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You had a police car legally pass you quickly by while clearly on official business  and that means you are the victim of a  reportable incident?

 

I agree with this. Whooshing by quickly did not actually put your lives in danger, and may have saved someone else's life.

 

But I don't want to ignore how startling it was to you. I know it can be surprising and get the heart racing when something like that happens, and I can tell you were really rattled by it. It's not reportable, though. The officer was doing his or her job, getting to the scene of a crime or emergency as quickly as possible, and I am sure that the people involved in the emergency were grateful that he or she got there as quickly as possible. Sometimes those few seconds really do count. 

 

My ex-husband is a police officer and described to me the extensive training they have to take, and even after 25+  years (Ack! Can it be that long?) still attends frequent refresher trainings. The driving trainings that emergency responders undergo ensure that they know how to drive safely in traffic at high speeds. They really do know what they're doing.

 

Cat

 

 

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You shouldn't do anything.  I know lots of cops and they don't drive like that for fun.  Sometimes there is an emergency call where a crime is in progress and they need to get there fast without alerting the criminal, so no sirens.  I know it can be scary, but he was doing his job and it seems he did it as safely as possible.  People complain about the police taking too long to arrive and then they complain about the police driving too fast to get to a crime.

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I'd assume he or she was on the way to a crisis situation. Lights without siren usually means responding to a crime in process.

 

When you see lights in the rear view you pull to the right and get out of their way.

 

Reporting it seems rather ridiculous to me.

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I'd give the cop the benefit of the doubt. Besides, are you really going to call and report some random, unidentified cop for startling you? That call seems a waste of everybody's time. Have you really never felt your car shake when being passed? I feel it when I'm stopped in the turning lane and cars go by at normal speed. The fact that it "seemed" reckless to you doesn't make it true.

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I don't think she's saying she was a "victim" - just that it was scary and she's questioning whether it was really safe or standard procedure.  And that's why we're here - to say, yes, we mostly think that's normal and okay, just calm down.

 

I have seen some police officers do some traffic maneuvers that I can't imagine were really safe.  I think it's fair to call in a report if you feel like a police officer is driving unsafely.  They shouldn't get a complete pass just because they're police officers.  And, as pointed out above, if the officer had a good reason, that shouldn't effect their job in any way but if they have a history of issues it might be something worth reporting.  I don't think this rises to that level though.

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Well, I'm going to be the voice of dissent.

 

We had a high-profile case in our area a few years ago with a police officer in his cruiser (can't remember if the lights/siren were on), who was going way too fast on the interstate while USING HIS COMPUTER (and, I think, talking on the phone at the same time), on his way to an accident. He ended up killing two teenage sisters because of his negligence. He's still trying to get his license back...thankfully, the state keeps denying him, and I hope they continue to do so. It was just a case of gross misconduct.

 

I say this because he was on police business, and I'm sure that to the people he whizzed by, it just seemed like an officer going fast, and not one who was out of control. I know that officers are trained to drive carefully when speeding, and that sometimes they have to do so, but sometimes, they're not safe, and they're putting people at risk.

 

So, sometimes, I think even police officers aren't thinking, and are being careless, and that can end in tragedy.

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We had a local case here where a trooper was responding to a no-injury accident. He rear-ended a couple who was stopped waiting to turn left. He was going 90 mph. Their car was tossed into a field and they were killed instantly.

 

However, I will agree with others who say that you are way more likely to be hurt by the average driver who does not have the training officers have.

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Well, I'm going to be the voice of dissent.

 

 

I posted earlier that I live in Boss Hogg country.  Three years ago (Memorial Day weekend, actually), we had a deputy race up the highway in his patrol car, meet his ex-wife at a gas station and shoot her--right in front of their 12 yo child.  He then led police on a high speed chase--while still in his patrol car--which ended when he shot a state highway patrolman.  He's in jail now, and his sheriff was convicted of misconduct for refusing to post an APB because he **knew** of the situation (gotta protect your own, ya know).

 

Obviously the OP's guy wasn't doing this, but for all of you who live in areas where the police are not regularly in the news for being arrested and facing criminal charges, you take it for granted.  I know I did.

 

I have another half dozen local examples, most of which more directly involve police agencies and their work, although did not directly result in the loss of a life.

 

And yes, fwiw, I live in the U.S.

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It really bugs me how quick people are to report things these days.

 

But is that really true?  I once had a conversation with someone after reporting that a water fountain was broken.  The woman said that there are all kinds of issues but people just sit around and gripe and assume someone else reported them and then they can't fix them because they don't know.  Obviously a different sort of thing, but I don't know that that's true that everyone is quicker to report problems in general.

 

Also, she came here and asked before she did it!  She was saying, this seemed off to me, can you confirm that?  And most people disagreed.  Seems like the very height of sane and civil to me.

 

Like I said, I think this probably doesn't rise to be worth reporting, but the way that some people are saying things that basically amount to "how dare you question the police" - I feel like the opposite can also be said.  How dare you blindly trust anyone just based on a uniform?  I mean, I do generally trust the police and I'm glad they are trained to speed to emergencies, but they're human, some police departments have issues with corruption and abuse, and I certainly don't think saying, maybe I should report this is something that people should be so critical about.

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I have to be honest: I'm feeling very misunderstood. In my three plus decades of driving I'm proud to do whatever is necessary for first responders to do their job. I pull over, stay put, whatever I need to do to help the first responder.

 

I have huge respect for their work.

 

What happened yesterday was frightening and seemed reckless. I've seen firetrucks slow down at intersections responsibly -- clearly trying not to crash into anyone. Even so I found myself thinking: go! go! go! somebody needs you.

 

What happened yesterday seemed out of the norm. Not safe. Not responsible.

 

Alley

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My sil was hit by a police cruiser that ran a red light while responding to a call. He had his lights on but no sirens, she didn't see him at all and she was driving through a green light. They must proceed with caution when passing or going through red lights- with lights and sirens. My sil had my 3 year old niece and 1 month old nephew in the van, they had to be transported by ambulance to the hospital, van was totalled, 3 year old screaming and covered in blood (she bit her lip badly and it bled like crazy) and my newborn nephew screaming in his flipped upside down carseat, my sil was frantic and sobbing. :( The police officer was fine but he was incredibly distressed by what happened, he was charged for the accident because he didn't have his sirens on. Thankfully they all were ok.

 

That being said, I'm glad they come quickly when it's me on the line crying for help! :) I have noticed in the last few years they don't use their sirens nearly as much and I wonder why too. Fwiw, our closest friends are police officers, and my little brother is on his way to becoming a police officer, I have great respect for the job they do and how they put their lives on the line for the safety of strangers every day ! :)

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Around here, emergency vehicles have the ability to turn all the traffic lights red (they must have some remote control, and there are sensors that blink on the traffic lights themselves when it's working.) Maybe with something like that, he felt he was able to go through a light at higher speed?

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Also, she came here and asked before she did it!  She was saying, this seemed off to me, can you confirm that?  And most people disagreed.  Seems like the very height of sane and civil to me.

 

Like I said, I think this probably doesn't rise to be worth reporting, but the way that some people are saying things that basically amount to "how dare you question the police" - I feel like the opposite can also be said.  How dare you blindly trust anyone just based on a uniform?  I mean, I do generally trust the police and I'm glad they are trained to speed to emergencies, but they're human, some police departments have issues with corruption and abuse, and I certainly don't think saying, maybe I should report this is something that people should be so critical about.

 

No one said anything close to "how dare you question the police?"  It was pointed out that as the cop had his lights on that he was following the SOP for most areas, so there is no need to report him just because the OP felt he had passed her while going "too fast."  Had she said he passed her like that without his lights on, I (and my guess is the majority) would have had a different opinion.

 

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I have to be honest: I'm feeling very misunderstood. In my three plus decades of driving I'm proud to do whatever is necessary for first responders to do their job. I pull over, stay put, whatever I need to do to help the first responder.

 

I have huge respect for their work.

 

What happened yesterday was frightening and seemed reckless. I've seen firetrucks slow down at intersections responsibly -- clearly trying not to crash into anyone. Even so I found myself thinking: go! go! go! somebody needs you.

 

What happened yesterday seemed out of the norm. Not safe. Not responsible.

 

Alley

 

I think you've hit upon something here. You can tell, when you're in the situation, if the car is doing something obviously dangerous. After you've been driving so many years, you can tell when a police car is speeding, but in control, and when one is just being careless. And I'm pretty sure the mother of those two girls in that accident that I mentioned upthread wishes that someone had reported the officer in that scenario, because he was doing something stupid and dangerous, and I bet that there were experienced drivers on the road who could tell that he was.

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I don't see the problem.  It happens all the time in the city.  As far as I understand, he passed you legally and with his lights on.  I understand you were startled by the sudden woosh of air, but I don't see why that would cause any more than a moments reaction or concern. 

 

 

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a fire truck is different than a police car

 

also, what seems reckless/dangerous to you is not necessarily reckless or dangerous to a person with superior reflexes and/or training.

 

For instance, walking on a tightrope would be reckless for me.  For a tightrope walker, not as reckless.  When I watch a tightrope walker, I might feel fear/anxietydisproportionate to the actual danger, because I am projecting my own skill level onto the other person.

 

The fear/anxiety of having someone whizz by you at 30-40mph over the speed limit is a legitimate feeling on your part (you probably would not be a safe driver at that speed), but that doesn't mean the police officer isn't safe at that speed.

 

 

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I have to be honest: I'm feeling very misunderstood. In my three plus decades of driving I'm proud to do whatever is necessary for first responders to do their job. I pull over, stay put, whatever I need to do to help the first responder.

 

I have huge respect for their work.

 

What happened yesterday was frightening and seemed reckless. I've seen firetrucks slow down at intersections responsibly -- clearly trying not to crash into anyone. Even so I found myself thinking: go! go! go! somebody needs you.

 

What happened yesterday seemed out of the norm. Not safe. Not responsible.

 

Alley

 

 

I understand. Recently, I had a few police cars pass me and many other cars in what I considered to be an unsafe manner on the interstate. They had lights and sirens on, but were absolutely flying and weaving in and out of traffic. I said a quick prayer for the major emergency they were obviously heading for. Within a couple of minutes, I was in extremely heavy traffic. I figured there had been a large and very tragic accident ahead. A few minutes later I arrived at the scene of the accident. There were 15 police cars lining both sides of the interstate (most on my side of the interstate) with more arriving constantly. A fire truck, a paramedic unit, and an ambulance were also already on the scene (on my side of the interstate and they had not passed me). What was the accident? A single police car had run off the road and crashed in between the north/south bound lands of traffic. Later, I learned that he had suffered a medical emergency and lost control of his vehicle. I understand that every officer on duty felt the need to come to the scene, but their response and manner of traveling were beyond unreasonable and unsafe. So, yes, officers do sometimes over respond to situations and drive in an unsafe manner. It should be reported. I seriously doubt anything would ever come of the report. Probably just delegated to file thirteen.

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I think you've hit upon something here. You can tell, when you're in the situation, if the car is doing something obviously dangerous. After you've been driving so many years, you can tell when a police car is speeding, but in control, and when one is just being careless. And I'm pretty sure the mother of those two girls in that accident that I mentioned upthread wishes that someone had reported the officer in that scenario, because he was doing something stupid and dangerous, and I bet that there were experienced drivers on the road who could tell that he was.

 

I don't believe driving for 34 years makes someone automatically able to determine what is safe/unsafe for an emergency vehicle with a trained driver. The OP described a vehicle going fast, not one that is out of control.

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Unfortunately, I see similar driving from police, ambulance, and fire trucks from time to time. The kicker for me is no sirens. My friend was killed in high school by an emergency response vehicle with lights but no siren. Her car was literally run over and she was killed instantly. The emergency call turned out to be a false alarm, and the emergency response driver was sent to jail for up to 3 years on involunary manslaughter because he was supposed to use both lights and sirens when responding to an emergency.  Such a waste and so needless.  Lights and sirens- drive as fast as possible to get to the scene of an accident/fire, but not without both lights and sirens- its just too dangerous.

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I don't see what is wrong with reporting it if the OP felt it was over-the-top. She could be right (she was there ) and she could be wrong. If she is wrong, I would anticipate that when she calls in her report, they say, "Ma'am that is SOP and our officers are specially trained," or they say, "We'll look into this,"
then they check and it is SOP so nothing more comes of it. If, however, it was not SOP, then the police department knows about it and can correct it before anyone gets hurt.

 

I'm not sure what is so awful about making a report about something that felt dangerous to the OP. She's not saying that police shouldn't drive fast. She's wondering if this was too fast in this case.

 

Perhaps there is something that people know about that makes a report a really bad thing. So far, no one has mentioned that, though. I think if the OP is wrong and it is SOP, that it's also true that other people get alarmed sometimes and make reports, too. Surely they have a procedure for figuring out quickly if there is an issue or if a civilian was just alarmed.

 

 

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