June 25, 2019

Police going fishing

Red, blue and white lights flashed in the rearview mirror of my 1992 white Chevy Cavalier. A harsh siren sounded twice. Having never been pulled over before in my three years of driving, I was scared. I turned off of Gravois Road and into a Steak ‘n Shake parking lot at 1 a.m. on Thursday, April 19. I quickly turned the hand crank on my driver’s door to roll down my window. A young police officer approached my window.

When I asked him what was wrong, he said my front license plate was missing. At that point — thinking someone had stolen my license plate — I legitimately freaked out. Then, he leaned over the front of my car and said, “Actually, your license plate is there, but your front license plate light is out.”

Really? Last time I checked, I don’t have a front license plate light. However, I didn’t contest.

The cop asked where I was coming from. I told him I was on my way home from school (I had been working on a project). He asked for my driver’s license and insurance card. I dug through my large purse in search of my wallet. After a moment, the cop told me to not to worry about it and to just get my light fixed. He chuckled on the way back to his car.

At first, I was relieved not to have received a ticket the first time I’d been pulled over. But then, I thought about the situation. I got pulled over at one in the morning by a county cop in city limits for a license plate light that doesn’t exist. Suddenly, I was sort of freaked out.

I called a friend of mine as I drove out of the parking lot. She told me about a mutual friend who had the same problem on Interstate 44 the previous week. My first thought was, “What’s up with that?”

I discussed the experience with family and friends, which resulted in some teasing since I’d never been pulled over before. My family and friends had several ideas regarding the cop’s motive in pulling me over. Maybe he was looking for a car similar to mine and had to have a reason to pull me over and check it out. Maybe he was hoping to find a drunk teenager driving the streets at 1 a.m. Either way, he was fishing for something.

I’m not sure there is a solution to stop cops from pulling people over for fishing purposes. However, learn a lesson from my experience. Always get a badge number when a cop pulls you over. If you have a badge number, you can inform the police station of any problems you have. It makes it easier to do something when there’s a problem.

Megan Favignano is a sophomore journalism major and copy editor for The Journal.

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