Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sighted: Troopers, no Traps

We do most of our driving in the city, but I also noticed this a few years ago when we were living in Cleveland - North of Chattanooga. In Tennessee, we have State Troopers, rather than Highway Patrol. I don't know if there is any difference in jurisdiction between the two, but I have noticed two practical differences.

First, Troopers are everywhere. It is unusual to drive anywhere on the freeways around Nashville without seeing a State Trooper. They don't seem to be patrolling in the sense Californians might consider CHP officers patrolling. When I see State Troopers on the road, they seem to be going about some kind of business, not specifically looking for someone breakin' the law, but ready to intervene if they spot something. The a CHP Officers seem to be assigned to a particular stretch of road which they patrol up and down, looking for "bad guys," unless they get called away on something.

Second, it seems that "camping" and "speed traps" are standard practices of the CHP, but I have never seen them used by State Troopers here. Camping and Speed Traps are both implementations of a basic strategy: an Officer parking his or her vehicle behind something that will obscure it from view, preventing you from seeing it before you have already been hit with the radar gun. So it has been quite a while now since I turned a corner, or passed and hill, and had that sinking feeling in my stomach and heart as I wait to see if the CHP Officer is going to pull out and nab me. Whew!

One reason for these differences might be that, at least in my experience around Nashville, drivers don't speed as blatantly and belligerently as we do in California. And I suppose a self-policing system is best.

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