Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Fools' Errands 

I live in what must be the capital of the televised high-speed police pursuit, or THSPP for short. I think it started with the whole OJ Bronco thing. That was the year all the local news stations shut down their bureaus in the state capital and bought helicopters. They have to justify the expense, right?

Some weeks here, it seems like there's another chase on TV every other night -- always in the evening, as if they're specially programmed for late news junkies like me. And I admit a certain guilty pleasure in watching them -- if they're in areas I know. I've had THSPPs pass near me at least three times, and it's always spooky to be watching the TV coverage, tracking the location and listening as all the helicopters approach, fly over and vanish.

But the thing I always ask myself is, "Why would any idiot do this?" And you'd have to be an idiot. Every single chase ends one of four ways -- car stops, suspect surrenders; car stops, suspect runs like hell until he's caught; car crashes, suspect survives and is arrested; car crashes, suspect is killed in a spectacular fashion. You know the news directors would all cream their Armanis if the last item happened. There's a common theme here, too. The only endings are arrest or death, and yet they run.

I'm not sure whether to blame the news coverage. It's possible that so many people start THSPPs because they've seen them on TV, and they remember the chase and the getaways, never the endings. And, hey man, it was on TV, I can be on TV. That latter phrase short-circuits more American brains than any other. I can be on TV. Hey, you know what? I've been on TV, several times, never in a high speed chase. The payoff for the deal isn't worth the proverbial fifteen minutes. For every second you're in a THSPP, the citation-meter is running, and don't think that the cops chasing you aren't going to add every incident of speeding, running lights, making illegal turns, not signalling lane changes, etc., etc., etc. to the charges. Those things add up, economically and points-wise. Most THSPPs I've seen would have taken the driver's license away for life in the first ten minutes.

Then again, I wonder -- is it only because of the TV coverage that these things don't end with the police ramming the car off the road, then beating the suspect senseless? Not that that would be a bad thing. If I were a cop chasing one of these morons, I'd be sorely tempted upon catching him to do some traffic skoolin' with my baton. I get pissed enough with bad drivers who aren't in a THSPP. I can empathize.

Anyway, public service announcement -- "If the police pull you over, pull the hell over as soon as it is safe to do so. Be polite, answer their questions honestly. If you're drunk, they've probably figured it out already. Isn't a little expense and inconvenience worth more than possible death and/or criminal charges? And... if you're wanted on some warrant, don't make it worse. If it's parking tickets, see above. Cut a deal and pay off the damn tickets, unless you'd like to play wifey for a few years with a huge, well-hung man named Carlos. If you're an escaped convict or wanted felon or something else -- well, you ain't gonna make it any better by running, are you? Admit it, you fucked up, you got caught. Stop the car and pay the piper. Don't be a pussy.

So, in bumper sticker form, here's the reminder...

Don't start a high-speed chase. It only ends up with you being dead or fucked in the ass...

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