Deaver 2020

The latest silly example of attacking law enforcement comes from San Francisco.

A young woman with a local organization whose goal is, unwittingly, to make it easier for pedestrians to be killed wants to eliminate laws against jaywalking.

For those who don’t know what that is, it is walking across streets in the middle of the block rather than using crosswalks.

The obvious point of these laws is to save lives by discouraging people from being struck by motor vehicles.

Like most of the anti-cop people, this lady believes that jaywalking laws are aimed primarily at poor people and are a “victimless” crime.

She begins her anti-jaywalking screed with the example of a homeless man who decided, after looking both ways, to cross the street in the middle of the block.

He was stopped by police officers wrote him a $198 citation.

Since he didn’t (or couldn’t) pay the ticket, a penalty was levied bringing the tab up to $500.

Now, if I had been the cop who stopped this gentleman, I would have counseled rather than cited him as long as he passed the attitude test. There was nothing in this story about the man doing anything to cause any trouble between himself and two of The City’s finest.

The writer’s logic for eliminating jaywalking is that she believes it is aimed primarily at the poor, who don’t have cars, and because there are usually more cops in low-income neighborhoods, which is true because those neighborhoods tend to have more crime.

That, by the way, is not a racist comment; it is a sad fact of life that could be changed if the people living in those neighborhoods would spend as much time marching against criminals as they do marching against the folks who are trying to protect them.

Jaywalking and death

As I began writing this week’s edition I received a press release from the county coroner’s office reporting the latest Kern County pedestrian death.

Like many of these reports, the victim was elderly and was killed late at night.

Pedestrian deaths are a big deal in Kern County, especially on the smoggy side of the Tehachapis.

The county was recently awarded a grant to address the problem.

Nationwide, more than 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2019.

The writer also ignored the effect of these deaths on drivers.

Killing someone with your vehicle is something a driver will never forget.

Railroads for years have had programs for engine crews whose trains have struck people walking or driving on the tracks.

Several years ago, as a reporter, I rode in the cab of a locomotive pulling a coal train between Mojave and Searles station, where the UP connects with the Trona Railroad.

The conductor on that train had bid into that high seniority job after locking eyeballs with a man just before his train hit him in the LA area.

The best way to avoid being cited for jaywalking, or killed or maimed by it, is to cross at the marked crossings. Which should be obvious.

Stopping crime

There’s another aspect of current efforts to eliminate “minor” or “victimless” crimes, especially traffic laws like a burned-out taillight or a missing license plate.

Theses stops frequently help officers catch some really bad guys.

Criminals don’t just commit felonies; they have no respect for any laws, and most of them commit crimes because they are too lazy or stupid to work like the rest of us (who work so we can pay taxes to catch and provide jail cells and meals for these dimwits).

Which is something people need to understand when they get stopped by cops for “minor” violations, like those the anti-law enforcement types are complaining about.

It’s also why the first thing officers do (or should do) when they stop someone is to tell them why they are being stopped, in case the driver has just robbed a service station or beaten up his wife.

Need for change

Once upon a time in America there was a need for handicapped people to jaywalk.

That all changed back in the 1950s when a Bakersfield attorney whose body had been ravaged by polio was being pushed in a wheelchair across a street in that city by his secretary, who was also his wife.

The lawyer, whose first name was Paul and was a good friend of our family, was a sharp young man who practiced law in Mojave one or two days each week.

He and his wife were illegally jaywalking because that was the only way to get from the courthouse parking lot to the Bakersfield courthouse in a wheelchair.

They did that by using the driveways on each side of the street because back in those days there were no sidewalk ramps for folks with handicaps.

With the unwitting assistance of an overzealous Bakersfield police officer, that city became one of the first in America to install the now-ubiquitous ramps that allow the handicapped to cross streets safely.

It cost a lot of money, but it was worth it.

When Paul and his wife reached the other side of the street, the officer issued them a citation for jaywalking, ignoring Paul’s obvious explanation for why he was violating the law.

Law challenged

Being a sharp attorney, Paul challenged the ticket, with the result that Bakersfield and all other cities in America now make it possible for people with handicaps to cross streets safely.

Of course, as always when something changes, there were the usual complaints and ignorant ridicule about costs, etc.

As someone who has reached an age when these changes are welcome, I appreciate them. I  am also angered by people who abuse them, and by their lack, such as the lone handicap spot at the Mojave post office.

And I am also angered by people who endanger themselves and drivers by jaywalking.

(1) comment

Irene the Dragon Librarian

Too much opinion, not enough fact. Please research the origins of jaywalking laws and how a slur became a normal part of English vocabulary. As a daily pedestrian who does follow the rules and uses crosswalks all the time, I dodge people running lights, turn signals, or just flat out not looking at the road at least once a month. Following the rules is not a guarantee of safety for a pedestrian. While I have a responsibility to follow the law and watch out for myself, I'm not encased in a piece of heavy machinery designed to protect me in the event of an accident. A car is always going to win a fight against me. In many cases of pedestrian accidents, I always ask "why wasn't the driver paying more attention?" Honestly, I'd rather our police forces use the resources they'd use penalizing somebody jaywalking to instead better enforce traffic laws on bad drivers. I'm sure some places already do that, but for the sake of tidiness, I'm in favor of removing irrelevant laws like that from the books.

I also challenge the author of this piece to go interview 5 homeless people without hostile intentions or bias. It's not fair to make sweeping judgements about people based on how they look and it's not a homeless person's fault they make you feel guilty when you see them.

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