A tale of two citi(zens)... - Granite Grok

A tale of two citi(zens)…

Get out of jail free

Unless, of course, you’re one of THEM…

So I’m reading the caselog report of the local (Laconia, NH) district court in last Saturday’s Citizen newspaper and I came across this:

Christopher A Gibbs, 29 of Mudget Hill Road, Loudon, pleaded guilty to reckless conduct for allegedly driving in a sleep-deprived state, resulting in an accident on South Barnstead Road in May, found guilty, fined $600.

When I was finished with that paper, I next started reading Friday’s Union Leader (Yeah, I was a day behind). The first thing I read was a story on the front page about a state trooper that hit two bicyclists on Route 115 in Jefferson (one of my favorite areas to go snowmobiling):

Jefferson – A Maine doctor and his son bicycling along Route 115 yesterday morning were struck by a state police cruiser when it drifted off the roadway and into the breakdown lane where they were riding, according to police.

[snip]

According to State Police Sgt. Todd Landry, who is investigating the accident along with the technical accident reconstruction team, the collision took place "just after a curve" on the road at about 8:30 a.m.

Cohen was providing an escort for one truck that was transporting a modular prison cell bound for the federal prison under construction in Berlin. Landry said Cohen was driving ahead of the truck. Both the cruiser and truck were northbound.

Tough break. I wondered what happened to cause the cruiser to drift. Was he on a cell phone? It almost seems like whenever I see a trooper, he/she is on the phone. I then grabbed the Saturday Union Leader from the stack, and there was the answer: he had fallen asleep at the wheel.

The state police sergeant escorting an oversized load bound for Berlin had been on the road for several hours and had nodded off behind the wheel just before his cruiser struck two bicyclists Thursday morning, state police said last night in a statement.

[snip]

Cohen, a 16-year veteran stationed at the Troop F barracks in Twin Mountain, was escorting one truck carrying a prefabricated cell on the last leg of its journey to the federal prison under construction in Berlin.

Conte said Cohen had met up with the truck in Salem about 6 a.m.

"Those prefab cells are enormous," Conte said. "They don’t travel very fast — I don’t think speed was an issue."

The Technical Accident Reconstruction team, which spent most of the day following the accident on Route 115 investigating, continued to collect information yesterday, Conte said, including speed data and measurements taken during the day Thursday.

I wonder. Will the trooper meet the same fate as Mr. Gibbs of Loudon? Did he work an overnight shift and then pick up some gravy "detail work" escorting a wide load before heading home for some sleep? You know that there are strick laws regarding hours behind the wheel for truck drivers, and, as Mr. Gibbs found out, regarding driving in a "sleep deprived" state.

Was the trooper subjected to toxicology testing, as any ordinary poor b@stard would had he/she just run over two bicyclists during daylight hours "just after a curve"? (Does "just after a curve" mean the straight part of a road?) And what about the new state law requiring a 3 foot minimum distance from cyclists? Seems if you ran over 2 people on bikes, there is a pretty good case for two counts on that one.

The point is, we all know what Joe and Jane Lunchbucket must go through when it comes to obeying the laws and paying the consequences for violations. Nobody is saying that what happened isn’t an awful tragedy for the injured as well as the trooper, who I’m sure is a good guy. Unfortunately, some good people get found negligent in situations that was caused through their actions, even though they might have intended no wrong. With several recent instances of law enforcement officers getting away with things that would have at the minimum, cost ordinary folks thousands in lawyer fees to defend against, it will be interesting to see what happens here. My prediction? It will be an unfortunate accident that will somehow, in the end, get ruled as somehow "justified." Isn’t it always? 

It’s not that I don’t like cops. I just don’t like double standards. We give law enforcement officers far-reaching powers over our everyday lives. Once they come to believe they’re immune, there’s no telling what they might do. Checks and balances are needed in all facets of life when it involves power. This should be no different.