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October  16

Letter from Virginia: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Debbie_in_virginia  The Barista is happy to learn that the rain up north finally stopped, and will try not to rub it in that it's been sunny and beautiful here for almost a week. We are happily tap-tapping away on our second novel, tentatively titled, "The Art of Channeling Wind and Water," and having a wonderful time taking long walks and hanging out with painters, filmmakers, composers and other writers. We hardly get any news at all, so it was interesting that the one newspaper headline that caught our eye this past week was "911 calls reveal police havoc," a big whoop-de-doo about New Jersey cops s'pposedly behaving badly in Virginia, on their way home from helping out after Katrina.

Out-of-state police convoys that raced through Virginia on their way home Sept. 18 from New Orleans did more than blow past inerstate speed limits, 911 dispatch tapes and interviews show.

For nearly 200 miles, New York and New Jersey police also wreaked havoc from morning until night by forcing motorists from their lanes as well as by tying up traffic.

Of course, the Yanks looked at it a little differently.

Why was Virginia the only state that failed to provide a police escort?" [Joseph Occhipinti, executive director of the National Police Defense Foundation] asked, arguing the convoys were vulnerable to possible terrorists attacks.

Luckily for the Barista, there's no anti-Jersey backlash at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, where half the fellows are from the New York area anyway. But we're wondering: are you hearing that story up there? A quick search of the Star Ledger yielded nothing.

That's all for now. Back to the fictionizing. Meanwhile, you nawtheners, behave yourselves. And listen to Liz.

October 16, 2005 in Where For Art Thou? | Permalink


may the muses continue to guide you-love, jealous in jersey

Posted by: cstarling | Oct 16, 2005 9:39:11 PM

This article includes the transcript of Passaic County sheriff Jerry Speziale doing a wonderful job of being a tough guy when the officer from Virginia called him to talk over the situation.
The deputy was 100% within bounds and doing his job. The arrogance of the officers from NJ is what is inexcusable. Running lights and sirens and doing 95 mph while driving BACK home was reckless and illegal.
In coversations with both of my immediate family members who are NJ police officers, they agreed that these NJ deputies put the public at risk. Anyone who has driven an emergency vehicle Code 3 on the highway knows that civilians react poorly a LOT of the time. They jam on their brakes, panic and swerve into other lanes, etc.
These guys weren't doing anything intentially harmful, sure, but they had a chance to be professional and respectful when the Virginia deputy tried to slow them down and they BLEW IT.
Their politician/Sheriff took it a step further and embarrassed himself with his tirade against the deputy who was just doing his job.
The public loves to react to this by getting up in arms about how these guys were "volunteering on this vital mission and how dare this guy treat them like this."
But hundreds of other law enforcement, fire and EMS agencies made the trip safely and courteously.
The "they would have been targets for terrorists" if they had driven slower excuse is such UTTER B.S. The one size fits all terrorism argument is the most rediculous part of it all. Yes. 95 miles per hour with lights and sirens saved a bunch of guys driving Ford Crown Victorias from certain death by terrorists if they had driven 75 with the flow of traffic.

Posted by: drob | Oct 16, 2005 10:09:25 PM

Well whoever was right or wrong people need to be more aware when they are driving. If you see the lights and or hear the sirens, move to the right and get out of the way. No need to panic. No need to spill your coffee. Continue your cell convo or make up application once they pass. Generally too many people are lingering in the left lane when they should not be. Pass and then move back to the right hand lanes. Wish they would enforce that law more. Traffic flow would be smoother.

Posted by: stealth | Oct 17, 2005 8:00:31 AM

BTW: Thanks to all the Cops, Firefighters and other volunteers who went and helped out. We know you weathered some tough times while we were here kvetching.

Posted by: stealth | Oct 17, 2005 8:04:18 AM

Drob got it right, Barista. Key word there was "arrogance." And once again, anytime there's a question of poor behavior or judgement, just yell the 9-11 Mantra: terrorism, terrorism, terrorism!

The Bergen Record ran a scathing editorial on Friday, September 30, 2005, blasting New Jersey Officers and Passaic County Sheriff Jerry Speziale for their part in and response to the incident in Virginia.

"What arrogance. What utter arrogance. A convoy of Passaic County police officers, returning from a Hurricane Katrina relief mission in New Orleans earlier this month, was stopped by police in Virginia for speeding at almost 100 mph with red lights flashing. There was no emergency. The Passaic County cops just wanted to get home fast."

Take it how you want to -- I believe that most cops are trying to do a difficult job the best they can, but there are jokers in every deck.

Posted by: Dogbert | Oct 17, 2005 8:12:20 AM

So why is it that this story isn't getting any coverage up here? Seems like it's a county-wide or even state-wide embarrassment for us.

Hello Montclair Times, Star Ledger? Are you listening?

Posted by: TwinDad | Oct 17, 2005 10:21:10 AM

It was in the Star Ledger but was printed over 14 days ago so it will not come up on search. A county-wide or state-wide embarrassment though? More like a pissing contest. No charges filed, the boys will work it out. Now I know all of you will keep this lesson in mind while driving today. No speeding now. Drive safely!

Posted by: stealth | Oct 17, 2005 1:38:51 PM

"You tell 'em we're comin'! And we're bringin' Hell with us!!!!"

Posted by: MyManMisterC | Oct 17, 2005 2:49:59 PM

I have looked into it a bit further. the VA Trooper was actually engaging in racial profiling. He has it in for us Yankees.

Posted by: stealth | Oct 17, 2005 5:24:54 PM

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