Letter: Don’t Blame The Cops

Last night my wife and I watched the new Wellington Village Council in its first meeting. I had intended to be there, but eye surgery/poor vision kept me at home.

I wish our new leaders well, for as they go, so too does our village (not city). I support and trust them to be our voices. I was, however, disappointed to hear a gentleman get up and denigrate the police and suggest a private security firm in its stead. He started out by complaining about traffic deaths, certainly important to all of us, but then he started to badmouth the police. My wife poked me in the side and said, “I bet that he got a ticket recently.” Not five seconds later, the gentleman said his wife got a ticket for an unregistered car.

Soon thereafter he complained that Palm Beach County probably had more unregistered cars than anywhere else in the state. Yes, and he had one of them! I don’t believe insurance would cover an unregistered car. As a former police officer, I have time and again heard rants from wonderful citizens who turn into ranting individuals after getting a summons. ’Tis the nature of things.

I told one person who started to insult me while I was writing him a violation, inferring that I was a dolt: “Life is like an onion, you peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you cry.” — George Bernard Shaw.

The police have had a hiring freeze, a wage freeze, and we expect them to do ever more with less. Capt. Jay Hart has not only been our police chief (in name), but he has been our friend and has devoted himself to his/our village. He lives here, too.

The police cannot be responsible for people who get killed on a winding road, who at high speed hit a tree, having never applied their brakes, nor can they be responsible for a car cutting in front of a motorcycle. Rather, it is we the parents and family members who must teach and watch our children more closely, for drugs, drinking and reckless driving. We see them when they go out and sometimes when they return, not the police.

Two elected officials’ kids received tickets (announced from the podium), and that speaks highly of the officers, their leadership and the officials, because all did their jobs. The parents thanked the police, and the sheriff’s deputies did their job; most parents yell at the police. Kudos to the officials who thanked the police and admonished their kids, for this is not the norm.

As a society, we must take responsibility for our acts, our children’s acts, and not expect the police to be everywhere at all times, especially when times are tough, and our economy prevents more hiring. To Councilwoman Anne Gerwig, who wants a meeting with our police: I say, fine, but curving roads, speeding, drinking, etc., are personal responsibility, and sadly the police cannot be everywhere. But they surely are there to clean up the carnage after people do stupid things in vehicles.

Perhaps outlawing phones and texting while driving might help, too. Statistics show they cause more accidents now than DUIs. Perhaps the council might want to look into addressing this to our state elected officials, as other states have enacted laws. Does Florida have to be last yet again? Some accidents are just that, but too often accidents were/are avoidable.

George Unger, Wellington