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I had an unpleasant encounter with an officer of the peace tonight. I have written a letter detailing my concerns with their behavior. I have not decided yet whether to submit it to the police department. (I welcome your comments on this.) I won the last time I fought the government, but this time I really don't care to spend any more time on the matter.
In any case, writing the letter was cathartic. And the fact that I wrote it means that all y'all get to read it.
The purpose of this letter is to report my concerns regarding the conduct of a peace officer.
On Dec. 13th at approximately 7:45pm I went to the WinCo Foods store at the western edge of Hillsboro. While walking up to the store, I noticed a vehicle parked illegally in the fire lane, near the signs urging people not to park there even temporarily. The vehicle was a police car. The officer was not inside the vehicle.
I entered the store and purchased some items. When I left the store a few minutes later, I noticed that the vehicle was still there and that the peace officer was inside it. I approached and told the peace officer that she should not be parked in the fire lane, told her that there was a parking spot reserved for the police, and asked her to move the vehicle to it. At all times I was polite and my voice and demeanor were calm.
The peace officer was not calm, and she did not take my suggestion in a professional manner.
She said that her license plate entitled her to park wherever she wants. I reminded her that she is not above the law. She accused me of harassing her dog (which was barking, making it difficult for us to talk) and that that was a crime. She said it in a manner that felt threatening. I was in no way harassing her dog — I was having a conversation with her. If anyone's emotional state was exciting the dog, it was hers, not mine. Furthermore, it is my understanding that police dogs are very well-trained and that she could have commanded the dog to be quiet. She did not. She asked me to step away from the vehicle. I complied, and she opened the driver's door.
At this point I became afraid of some kind of reprisal, but I stayed calm. The peace officer was not calm - her tone of voice was irritated and defensive. I asked her for her badge number and she refused to provide it, instead telling me to call the police department to get it. Given the date, time, and location (above), you should be able to identify the officer. I do not know whether a peace officer is allowed to refuse a request for their badge number.
She may have been responding to a genuine emergency where the few extra seconds needed to park her vehicle legally, in the space reserved for the police, could have made a difference. But there was no apparent emergency; everything inside the store seemed completely normal to me. Even if there was an emergency, after it had passed and she had the opportunity to return to her vehicle, she should have moved it to a legal parking spot. There are good reasons why fire lanes are no-parking zones, and those reasons are as valid for city vehicles as they are for private vehicles.
It is my opinion that she was irritated by being caught and confronted while doing something she knew to be wrong. Peace officers should be exemplars of proper conduct. Their authority does not entitle them to break the law, and I am disappointed that she attempted to intimidate me rather than apologize for and correct her error.