The Star Ledger covered the opening of the Christie-Guadagno campaign office in Newark yesterday. The headline and the article has nothing to do with the campaign office opening, or what it represents. The headline was GOP gubernatorial candidate downplays driving record.
How did the subject of Christie's driving record, and apparent favorable treatment he received at a 2002 accident and in a 2005 stop come up at the opening of a campaign office? The reporters brought it up of course. Why would they do that? Because Democrats are calling them and emailing them about the incidents in hopes they are issues that will make New Jersey voters forget about how high their taxes are and how bad the economy is.
Police officers have discretion at traffic stops and accidents. By harping on these issues, the press and the Democrats are actually criticizing the police, not Christie.
Christie may have gotten breaks when he was allowed to drive his family home from Lambertville after getting a summons for not having a current registration or insurance card. He might also have gotten a break in 2002 when he apparently caused an accident in Elizabeth and didn't get a ticket. However, that does not mean he got favorable treatment.
Police officers often give breaks. You don't have to be U.S. Attorney to get one. I've gotten a few over the years. I've never been a big shot. Here's what works for me: Don't be a jerk. Don't lie. Be respectful, apologetic and reasonable.
I got my first break at a traffic stop when I was in college. After closing the restaurant I was working at at 2:30 AM I took a short cut up a one way street the wrong way. Lights on, cop pulls me over. "You went the wrong way on a one way street. Did you see the arrow?", asked the cop sternly. "Really, an arrow? I didn't even see the Indians," I said with more humor that smart ass in my voice. "What?" the cop exclaimed. That didn't work. "I'm sorry officer. I just got off work and have an exam tomorrow. I thought I'd save a few minutes getting back to school." "Don't do it again and drive carefully," he said as he sent me on my way, holding back his laughter.
It doesn't hurt to name drop if you know someone the cop might know or work with. Just like meeting anyone else for the first time. I was stopped in an inspection check point a few years ago. My inspection a was a few weeks expired. "Darn, you got me," I said when I got to the front of the line. "Is so and so working this inspection check? He'll never let me live this down." "How do you know so and so?" asked the officer. I got an inspection sticker and no ticket.
Being honest, respectful, friendly and self effacing when stopped by the police doesn't guarantee you won't get a ticket. But it never hurts and sometimes it gets you a break. It doesn't mean you are not qualified for a job you are seeking or that the police are not doing their job.