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Fighting the Man

Written by Dary Matera Subject: Criminal Justice System

By Dary Matera

He fought the law - and the verdict’s still out.

Not as catchy as the classic song, but it does capture an East Valley man’s plight a bit more accurately.

On December 12, concerned Ahwatukee resident John Crockett, 43, noticed that the cops had set up a nasty speed trap on Pecos Road west of I-10.

The once barren stretch of rural asphalt has come under scrutiny because a section of the 202 recently opened nearby, combined with new I-10 access ramps. Suddenly, a great deal of traffic was being funneled that way.

In early December, there were two fatal accidents in the area, no doubt due to the increased load combined with the tendency of Pecos Road motorists to put pedal to the metal.

To stem the tide, the Phoenix department put up warning signs.

John Crockett had no problem with any of this. It’s the next step that bothered him. The Phoenix cops, already notorious for relentless DUI stake-outs on nearby Ray Road and Chandler Boulevard, set up a classic speed trap.

The ambush was executed by an “advanced scout” with a radar gun hidden in a nook, radioing his findings to a pack of blue wolves waiting down the road.

Watching his friends and neighbors being ensnared like mullet in a drag net, Crockett set out to alert them. He constructed a sign that read “Radar Trap Ahead” and parked on the shoulder of Pecos Road downwind from the wolves.

It was an effective effort. While drivers will frequently ignore official road signs, a fellow “mullet” waving a warning in their mugs had a dramatic effect. Virtually everybody instantly slowed down.

Oddly enough, this infuriated the blue wolf pack. Despite the fact that Crockett was only doing what they themselves had done – posting a caution sign – they swarmed the mild-mannered man like he was Osama bin Laden.

The angry officers shut down his grassroots operation, slapped on the handcuffs, and held him in the rear “cage cell” of a police car for nearly an hour while they poured through their green statute books trying to figure out what to charge him with.

They finally decided that Arizona Revised Statutes 13-2403 did the trick – obstructing governmental operations, a Class 1 misdemeanor. Trouble is, the statute states that such obstruction must be accomplished through the “use or threat of violence or physical force.”

The cops and prosecutors sheepishly dropped the charge a few weeks later.

Crockett, in turn, has filed an official complaint against some of the officers involved. He said they were unnecessarily abusive in their language, demeanor, and totalitarian behavior.

“I wish there was a way to get their attention, smack their hand and say when a guy isn’t doing something wrong, you can’t put him in handcuffs and detain him in the back of your car for an hour,” Crockett laments.

Amen brother.

The police claim they are investigating the incident and will have a report, like, whenever. Yeah, as if that’s going to amount to anything.

I’ve observed those Ahwatukee jackboots in action on many occasions, and can confirm that they are indeed an abusive lot. Their treatment of average citizens caught in late night speed traps and random DUI stake-outs are excessively disrespectful. Verbal abuse and domineering power trips are the rule.

The cops operate on the theory that everybody they pull over is guilty until proven innocent.

I’m curious as to why these blue wolves are so ill tempered? I’d like to think that they hate being forced by the brass to oppress and arrest average citizens, and that puts them in a foul mood.

That’s probably wishful thinking.

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