The following post was shared with the CopBlock Network by Tammy Shah, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page.
Date of Incident: May 30, 2014
Officers Involved: Officer Artie O’Connell – Badge # M24
Department Involved: Massachusetts Environmental Police
Department Contacts: Major Len Roberts – [email protected] – Captain Roger Thurlow – [email protected] – Lt. Colonel Chris Baker – [email protected] – Lt. Colonel Chris Baker 617-616-1650
On Friday May 30, 2014, at approximately 17:30, I was traveling westbound on the mass pike in the right lane with traffic flow. The traffic was slowing in the right lane due to a large vehicle at the front of the line of cars and trucks when myself and another vehicle ahead of me changed lanes to the left lane to pass. The vehicle in front of me sped away quickly. I increased my speed to about 70 to overtake the vehicles in the line of traffic. While traveling in the passing lane, a vehicle came up quickly to the rear of my car. I could see the headlights in my rearview and little else. The vehicle was traveling so closely to the back of my car that I could not see the license plate, all I could see were the headlights and a sturdy ‘cage’ type device on the front of the SUV. The vehicle was a large SUV type vehicle. I increased my speed to try to get past the line of vehicles quickly, but the SUV also increased speed accordingly and stayed dangerously close to the rear of my Prius. Traveling with my two dogs and my son in the car with me, I became nervous and was only concentrating on getting past the line of traffic and moving to the right so the SUV would no longer be tailgating me.
Once I cleared the end of the line of traffic, I swiftly moved to the right lane; the SUV immediately began to gain momentum to pass me and as I saw them come into my peripheral line of view on my left, I threw my hand up to display my frustration for their unsafe driving. Just as the vehicle came to the side of my car, and saw my hand up, they immediately slowed, flipped on blue lights, merged behind me and pulled me over. My son was in tears, my heart was racing, and I pulled to the side of the highway ASAP. The officer came to the side of my car and started barking orders. “License and registration!” I got my license out and handed it to him and was retrieving my registration when he demanded, “Do you know the speed limit on the Mass Pike?” I said it was 65. He said, “Yes, 65, NOT 80 like you were doing. Immediately I said that I was traveling so fast because he was too close behind me and I was scared; he cut me off before I could continue to speak, demanding my registration. The officer was intimidating and rude. He was intentionally trying to make me feel lesser with both his verbal behavior and his body language. I was clearly not a threat and I was not argumentative.
The officer returned to his SUV, still close behind my vehicle, and I could not identify what agency he was with. He left us sitting in the car for about twenty minutes. He finally returned and in an argumentative voice asked me if I knew what the left lane was for. I said, “Yes, for passing and…” He again cut me off and shouted, “YES, passing AND emergency vehicles! You are meant to enter the lane, pass the vehicle, exit the lane… enter the lane, pass the vehicle, exit the lane.” He was condescending and rude, treating me as if I was a child, and clearly trying to assert his dominance in the situation. I said I understood that, but that the line of traffic was tight and that he was too close to me, scaring me, and he again cut me off telling me that I had plenty of safe chances to make a lane change.
Well, I disagree! How can I safely lane change when someone is driving so close to my tiny vehicle with their huge SUV and any attempt I made to accelerate to give myself some breathing room was met with similar acceleration? The officer said he clocked me doing 80 and that doesn’t shock me, honestly. Anybody would speed to get away from what they feel is a potential danger – an unsafe driver! What if I had to stop quickly? He would have rammed the back of my car so hard everybody would have perished! His enormous SUV would have all but flattened my tiny Prius. Also, it amazes me that he was fully intent on passing me until I threw my hand in the air in disgust of his poor driving safety! Honestly, as far as I was concerned, he was still just some Joe on the highway being unsafe. I had no idea he was with law enforcement until he put the blue lights on. He didn’t like that I did that, so he pulled me over and he asserted his dominance over me the only way he could: to intimidate me, talk over me, and present me with a ticket. When he finished that and we pulled back on the highway, he immediately entered the left lane, accelerated quickly and ran up on the back end of another unsuspecting driver.
This officer is unsafe! His driving practices are unsafe and his actions reflect a poor attitude and a disrespect of other drivers; both on the road and face to face. He knew he was wrong, and he attempted to punish me as one would punish a child who acts out over an adults wrong doing.
Within approximately an hour after receiving my citation, I was at my mother’s house in Westfield, MA and I was placing calls to find out who his superior officer was and to lodge a complaint. It took me approximately four phone calls and around forty-five minutes (and the assistance of a very helpful State Police officer) before I got on the phone with the officer’s supervisor, Major Roberts. Major Roberts has assured me that he would investigate this situation and would be contacting me again on Monday June 2.
Since the issue, I spoke with Major Roberts on June 2nd, and Captain Roger Thurlow on June 3rd. Captain Thurlow had reviewed my driving record (which is clean) and talked with Officer O’Connell about the stop. The officer admitted to Captain Thurlow that he was ‘in a hurry to get to a location in need of a K-9 unit.’ However, Captain Thurlow told me it was not an emergency; a roundabout admission of guilt regarding speeding. Officer O’Connell also told the Captain that I had given him ‘the finger’. Captain Thurlow was careful to let me know that the officers are allowed a certain amount of ‘personal discretion’ when deciding to stop somebody or let them go. I told him that I wanted the ticket forgiven since Officer O’Connell’s hazardous driving was the catalyst for the whole situation.
To date, I have attempted to contact Captain Thurlow an additional two times. Only once did he answer me back, telling me my complaint concerning Officer O’Connell was ‘currently in the investigatory process. Please be assured that you will be contacted as soon as all pertinent reports are submitted and reviewed.” He has disengaged with me since June 6th, and ignored my second email, as did Major Len Roberts who was CC’d on the email. Finally on June 26th, I reached out to the acting Director Lt. Colonel Chris Baker with an email directly to him; but alas no response from him either. On July 17th, I phoned and left a voicemail with his admin/assistant.
My court date for the ticket issued is August 5, 2014 in Palmer, MA. Shame on them!
– Tammy Shah
Kelly is a lifelong resident of Las Vegas, who’s been very active in local grassroots activism, as well as on a national level during his extensive travels. He’s also the founder/main contributor of Nevada Cop Block, served as editor/contributor at CopBlock.org and designed the Official Cop Block Press Passes.
Connect with Kelly at these social networks; Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Soundsike you should have gotten out of the passing lane. Nothing that you described is inappropriate by the officer. Your not liking it doesn’t mean he was wrong. “Rude”. Ok then.
Sadly we live in a society now of adults were who once children raised without red ink on failing papers, “quiet” sporting events where there are no losers, and were feelings matter over fact.
I agree with you!
It’s disturbing that such individuals gravitate towards becoming police officers!
You have a point.
“Sounds like” you support police discretion to stop and bully people for no other reason than a personal inability to deal with internal anger issues – or were you unable to completely understand this woman’s description of the incident?
he fantasizes about all the time. he even claims to be a cop but have no idea what is required for a warrant and when i posted the requirements he ignored them didnt even read them so he could fake it better
You are nothing but ignorant.
Feather / Mike / steve:
What are you tools talking about?
She was speeding…..admittedly.
Should the officer not have addressed that? Feathers…..yes I read it….and understood what was going on. She doesn’t want to be held accountable. See what you are missing….is that this self described sweet lady turns to an openly violent cop hater site to tell her tale. Let that part sink in for second……………………………… Ok. Cop hater gets caught speeding and want to then make it the officers fault. Right. Oh….btw here Feathers….where was the bullying part?
So, you’re saying that tailgating her at a dangerous speed over a long distance is okay? You’re going to ignore the fact that they were going to leave her alone until she gestured? Any cop worth his salt would choose public safety over a ‘notch in the belt’. If she deserves a speeding ticket, the officer in question should be punished for reckless driving. What’s that ‘rule’ that you guys put in the driving manuals?? I believe it’s, “at least two car lengths is the minimum safe distance”. C’mon…even a 16 yr. old can quote that one.
t, you are the real problem.
MA Environmental Police?
Deputy Dog wannabe.
Typical cop mentality. Think that we are lower than them and somehow we owe them gratitude for the corrupt service they provide.
So, around 5:30 in the evening at the end of May, you couldn’t make out that it was a police vehicle behind you, during the time it was coming up behind you? Perhaps, you should pay more attention to what is going on around you while you are driving.
You say you were frustrated and your heart was racing, perhaps you should consider how that effected the way you perceived the authors words, and how being frustrated with a racing heart could cause the things you say to come across as argumentative, even if that wasn’t your intent.
You were cited for speeding, something you readily admit to doing, why do you think an officer being rude should allow you a pass on paying that fine. I mean if you went to a restaurant, ordered a meal and ate it, you’d still be obligated to pay for the meal no matter how the restaurant staff treated you.
Oh, BS. Cops are control freaks who have to dominate, even when they are in the wrong. Cops react poorly to any criticism. And their attitudes always sucks.
And their driving habits are shit. They know their friends will protect them. I just watched a retired MP bragging about being able to speed, show how badge, and get away with it.
They don’t even see it as corruption. To them, it’s supposed to be a ‘perk’. Like the NY cops going nuts because they were no longer allowed to fix tickets for friends and family.
So, there’s absolutely no way that, if this encounter actually happened, that it might have happened different than the author claims. Keep in mind, that I never said that officer’s actions were all spot on, and I never said that the author was wrong either. I merely questioned the perceptions that author had of both her words and actions and the officer’s words and actions, knowing that emotions effect our perceptions.
You might want to be careful about using words like “always” when discussing a diverse group of people, or RaymondbyEllis will be along to castigate you for such hyperbolic statements, because “always” is just a brain fart. No, wait, who am I kidding, he only applies that standard to those who speak about people that aren’t cops.
Well I’ve yet to meet a single cop who can talk to others like they were people. They ‘always’ talk to people like they were subjects.
My experience watching cops drive, I find it difficult to doubt this account. It’s what happens when a group of people know they won’t face consequences to their driving. Especially if that group of people are ego driven like cops are.
Well, I can’t say as that surprises me, more because of the stance you have a taken here more than anything that can be put down to consistent attitudes among cops. I have had numerous interactions with numerous officers from numerous areas, and the only constant among them has been that they have all worn a uniform and a badge. The same can be said for the way cops drive, it’s a mixed bag all the way around, with the same percentage of overly aggressive drivers as you will find amongst the general population.
There are plenty of believable elements to this story, such as the tailgating. However, there are elements that strike me as false, such as not being able to identify that the SUV was a police vehicle as it was coming up behind the author.
Some elements, though, strike me as being more likely not as bad as the author claims, but not through any intentional dishonesty, but because of the effect that emotions have on the way we interact with others, as well as the way those same emotions color our memories.
Keep in mind, I’m not casting aspersions at the author of this story, nor am I casting them at the officer. There’s simply not enough to go off in determining what the full story might be, and am merely positing other likely alternatives.
Is that reason I hear? I forget sometimes after reading some of these comments
Yeah, it does tend to stand out when people are truly objective in their thinking and discussions.
I was married to one; why do you think cops have one of the highest divorce rates? ‘Cause they try to dominate and push you (wives) around like they do everyone else, that’s why.
Honestly, you must be a cop or involved in one. Cops are scary and look for issues when no issues are warrented.
Not a cop, nor involved with one, and I fail to see how that would have any bearing on what I said in regards to the story.
Cops are scary? Some of them are, but then that can be said of any group of individuals.
Cops look for issues when no issues are warranted? Which would be nothing like a majority of stories on this site, right? I mean, seriously, if a cop says anything about anything in any of these stories hordes of cretins cone crawling out of the woodwork to find issue with anything any officer has every done. Cite someone for speeding? Oh, the officer was rude and dominating. Stopped for an uninsured, unregistered vehicle? Oh the officer put my kid in a dangerous situation.
I brought a neutral perspective, but anything short of “cops are bad and evil” is visited with cries of “you’re a cop!” I guess that’s just easier than actually considering other perspectives.
Romo: Sikko definitely isn’t one of us cop types. We’ve had many a disagreements about police activity.
That is indeed the case. Even if most of those disagreements were predicated on one or the other of us not being clear in a point that we were making, there have been plenty of discussions between the two of us where we were in disagreement brought about by definitive perspective differences that come about from my not being a cop or tied to the police in any way, where T is.
LOL neither are you
While he may have been an asshole, seems you are a bit fragile. All scared and intimidated. My advice, ditch the prius and buy a man’s car.
Cops are “held to a higher standard”. Of course they aren’t, but to them it looks good on paper. A “higher standard” translates to many behaviors including self control and restraint. A “higher standard” translates to NOT perpetrating a traffic violation and this cop absolutely perpetrated a ‘violation’. When one operates outside the color of law, behaves in an unnecessarily aggressive manner and deliberately intimidates a motorist to justify a citation and get his control-freak fix, he forgoes any immunity, privileges or credibility due to an officer who is truly warning, citing or pulling someone over for a valid reason.
I’ve had cops pull up behind me a little too close for comfort -presumably to run a my license plate number, but then back off immediately and identify themselves by hitting their lights. I’ve also had cops tailgate me (a single female) in the dark of night in an unmarked car when I and he were literally the only cars on the road before stopping me for some bogus reason like “driving carelessly” because I kept changing lanes -legally, to get away from the tailgater. Scary, intimidating? Hell yes. Whether you’re female or male this type of behavior is aggressive and confrontational. Why is it considered a traffic violation? That is, when we non-cops do it of course. Because it’s been known to injure, maim and kill people. It’s not any less safe or any more legal when a cop does it. And when they do they endanger everyone on the road. Do cops try to perpetrate violations? Well duh! Of course they do, for any and all of the reasons mentioned in the other comments here. Anyone with half a brain knows you don’t provoke a confrontation and then hold your victim accountable for it, unless you’re a cop. Cops are acutely aware of this and those who like to play this game know exactly what they’re doing. To those who would justify this unjustifiable behavior, you either support police misconduct, corruption, abuse of authority and brutality; you are a cop who engages in these behaviors, or you’re just not the brightest crayon in the box.
There is almost literally no way to protect ourselves from this type of behavior without the use of cameras. Cameras on the dash, cameras filming from the rear, and a camera to film our interaction with them from inside our vehicle. And this will protect us from equally crazy motorists out there as well.
This cop was out of line the moment he began aggressively and dangerously tailgating the Prius and he did indeed provoke the situation. I hope you go to court and at least get your account on record. And then I’d go out and invest in a few inexpensive but reliable cameras to mount in your car. Good luck with this.
I agree with all of your comments; unfortunately, they may bar the video because they’ll allege it is edited.
You obviously didn’t give that officer the finger, but even if you had, it’s protected under the First Amendment.
Not in Massachusetts, EX-husband cop doing a detail; someone gave him the finger, he gave the guy a ticket for something (not sure) went to Court and he (the EX) won. Dirtbag that he is.
Welcome to Massatwoshits! The cops are the worst here! They believe they really are something special, and I wonder what type of jurisdiction the ridiculous agency of “environmental police” , have on the expressway giving out traffic citations. Seems way out of their realm of expertise. I clearly say in jest without being able to hold in either frustration, with which cops here make shit up all the time in an almost godlike fashion, or laughter because it is such a fuckin joke.
I moved out 8 yrs ago and have never been back. FUCK the MSP
Same thing happened in Heflin, Alabama. Judge and State Trooper laughed at me for saying that the State Trooper was tailgating me so I had increased speed to get away from an angry, expensive SUV-driving, road-raging tail gater. Must be a forced move to increase revenue.
i’m not a fan of rude public servants, but with the spate of disrespect for any authority figure (sometimmes warranted, most often not), the brusqueness with which an officer or trooper deals with the public could be seen as a means of commanding respect. who is going to mess with a state cop if they have a reputation as toughs? it isn’t a customer service contest, it is about safety and sometimes the ends justify some (not all) of the means. it also does sound a bit like whining when someone complains that a person (who is not a customer service representative) is rude. big deal. grow a thicker skin. i’m sure you have moments when you are rude also, so shrug it off.
as far as a tailgater goes, you do not NEED to speed up. this will result in exactly what happened here: the tailgater speeds up too, since they obviously want you out of their way. if you are tailgated and don’t like it, pull over as soon as it is safe. do not accelerate beyond the speed limit or what you would consider a safe travelling speed. know this: a cop cannot pull you over for travelling the speed limit; at worst, they could cite you for left lane travel if you are not passing. if you are passing (even 3-5 miles faster), they should have no issue.
it is my opinion you do not have any real grounds for ticket dismissal. i would be surprised if the judge/officers at the court hearing do not reiterate what i said about the tailgating and hold you to the fine.
and no, i myself am not nor am i friends or family of cops.