2010-10-15 / Columnists

It’s My Turn

By John Baxter Community Activist

John Baxter is a long-time Rockaway activist who has run for the City Council and is involved with the Independence Party. He is the owner and operator of Baxter’s Hotel, a shortterm transient residence on Beach 116 Street. Baxter often writes letters and op-ed pieces for The Wave. At one time Baxter owned his own newspaper in Rockaway.

Here is an experience I had with two of our 100 Precinct police officers. I was driving east on Beach Channel Drive in order to cross the Cross Bay Bridge. When I got to the bridge it was closed.

There was a detour sign pointing south. I proceeded to drive towards Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

There was a ‘no left turn’ sign posted on a lamppost sign about 20 feet north of the intersection of Rockaway Beach Boulevard and Beach 95 Street.

There was a detour sign pointing east attached to a lamppost on the south side of Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Traffic was unusually heavy because of the bridge being closed.

I hesitated to go left because I would be encountering traffic on my left going the same way.

I observed two police cars parked with their lights flashing in the lane to my left on the south side of Rockaway Beach Boulevard along with a white passenger car. All three cars were facing north even though it was a traffic lane going south.

I had little time to know what to do since there was no police officer in the intersection directing traffic, and I figured out that I was supposed to go in the same direction as the three cars. I proceeded south and made a U-turn into the left lane just after passing Rockaway Beach Boulevard and now I am facing north in the same lane along with the two police cars and the white passenger car.

Being at this location it was safe to make the right turn to get to the bridge. This is when the music started to play. I am not going to use the police officers’ names because I don’t think they need further embarrassment from me.

As you will see they were good at doing that to themselves. I am going to call them Dopi and Mopi for the sake of finishing this article.

Dopi came running out of nowhere over to my car screaming like a maniac followed by Mopi. Dopi stomped on the ground and demanded to know if I was aware that I was driving on a oneway street.

I tried to explain that the signs were confusing and that we were three senior citizens just trying to go safely over the bridge.

I didn’t get the half of that out of my mouth when Dopi demanded that I put the car in park and hand over my driver’s license and registration. I felt relieved because up to that point I was expecting Dopi to whip out the pistol and fire a bullet into my trembling body. Mopi took all the papers from Dopi and disappeared from my sight. Dopi got on the phone and soon my car was surrounded by plain-clothes officers in black cars and a few foot patrolmen.

One of the patrolmen started to direct traffic. Pretty good attention for three senior citizens trying to go over a bridge. “Where were you when we needed you?” I’m thinking.

Needless to say I was compelled to fight the ticket.

I appeared before the judge along with the cop I call Mopi. Dopi came along and was waiting outside the courtroom door. Mopi went first. Mopi pulled out a piece of scribbles on a small piece of paper and handed it to the judge. Mopi was explaining to the judge what took place.

The judge looked at Mopi’s scribbles and handed it back to Mopi and stated, “I have no idea what this is.”

At that point I said, “Your Honor, I would like to show the police officer my blown up picture of the entire area involved in this dispute.” Mopi looked at my photo and told the judge that it was the correct location. After Mopi told the judge what happened I told the judge my story. The judge said, “Not guilty.” I thought everything was over for the three senior citizens but it was only beginning to heat up.

I got a notice from the Department of Motor Vehicles in Albany directing me to go to the DMV College Point District Office at 30-56 Whitestone Expressway. The Testing Unit, Room 201, 2nd floor. Here is part of the letter.

You will be required to take an eye test and maybe required to take a road test on this date..

You must bring a vehicle, and corrective lenses or adaptive equipment you may need to take these tests, as well as a licensed accompanying driver. If you fail the eye test your license will be immediately suspended until you can pass the test.

If you fail the road test (if required), your license will be immediately revoked and retained by the license examiner.

In addition please have your physician complete the enclosed form MV 80 “Physicians Statement” and MV 619 “Statement of Visual Acuity” and bring the completed forms with you. Failure to appear on this date will result in the immediate suspension of your license.

I went with all the required forms, a vehicle, a licensed driver and the other two senior citizens as witnesses to the Road Test Unit.

I sat down opposite a friendly investigator and laid out my spiel. Just the facts.

She gave me a few simple tests. She handed my license back to me and told me to go home. I said to myself, “Who on earth would concoct a complaint like that?”

I applied through the Freedom of Information Law for the name or agency that made the complaint.

I got the request back and I was astounded to see that it was Mopi that made the complaint. The form filled out by Mopi was a form entitled, Police Agency Request

For Driver Review. Mopi filled out the form with check boxes running down the side of the form. Under the check box – Licensee appears to have a physical, medical or mental disability, Mopi wrote. “Licensee insisted road was not a one way road even after Police Officers pointed to the sign in front of the vehicle.”

Under the check box — Licensee was observed driving erratically, Mopi wrote “Licensee was driving the wrong way down a one way street toward oncoming traffic.” Under the check box-Licensee appears disoriented, Mopi wrote, “When licensee was informed of driving infraction licensee was confused. Licensee asked if taking medication licensee said ‘Yes.’ ” Not once in the complaint did Mopi mention the detour and the confusing signs.

Then I got to think how the laws have changed so much since I graduated from the Police Academy, or did they change? It was my understanding that back in the good old days if a police officer observed someone driving and that someone appeared to have a physical, medical or mental disability, driving erratically and appeared disoriented, the driver was either drunk or in need of medical attention.

No way was the officer going to issue a moving violation summons and send the driver on his way as Mopi admitted to doing on the Police Agency Request For Driver Review form.

I would like the Civilian Complaint Review Board to look into this entire case from beginning to end.

One has to consider what was on the mind of a police officer when that police officer sat down and wrote a false report either out of spite or not knowing their duty.

The police Agency Request For Driver Review form was filled capriciously with malice, innuendos, with poor judgment and incompetence.

In my opinion the two police officers in question are a danger and a threat to our citizens and should be sent back to the Police Academy to learn manners and take anger management classes.

Anything short of that should warrant their dismissal from the Police Force.

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I see nothing has changed at

I see nothing has changed at the 100 stationhouse even after all these years!

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