A cost to tough policing

No one likes being pulled over by the police. Who would? At best it takes time and causes stress, at worst it means a ticket and possibly other legal consequences.

In the village of Millerton, people have been raising red flags about the village police department’s practices. Too strict, some say. Too inflexible, say others. Too tyrannical, claim still more.

In recent days, residents and  visitors alike have stepped forward to complain. 

One man said while driving through Millerton he approached the crosswalk by the diner — when a couple of women waved him by to pass, he was pulled over. 

Another man said he was stopped for having a dimly-lit license plate. 

One woman said she was pulled over for not having her windshield wipers on. 

Yet another person was reportedly pulled over for not making a complete stop at Century Boulevard and Rudd Pond Road, and for surpassing the speed limit by 8 miles per hour. 

Restaurant owner Eleanor Nurzia, of 52 Main, has spoken about the police department’s practices. According to Nurzia, it’s so extreme that even customers sitting in running cars who hadn’t yet buckled up have been ticketed. A couple of times, she said, people were ticketed for not lowering their brights or turning on their signal quickly enough. One person was reportedly stopped for not wearing her seatbelt properly, she said. And those leaving the restaurant with blood alcohol content (BAC) levels lower than what the state qualifies as “under the influence” have reportedly faced arrest. 

People are saying they don’t want to drive through Millerton for fear of being stopped.

OK, so the police are strict, and ticketing fierce. It’s an inconvenience, surely. But on the flip side, what would it be like without such attention from the police department?

People in the crosswalk could get hit by passing cars.

Those with dimly-lit plates might not be able to be identified when necessary. 

A driver forgetful of putting his or her wipers on might run into something unseen on a rainy day.

Rolling stops could lead to dangerous accidents.

Exceeding the speed limit, even if by only a few miles, is illegal — who can argue with the law?

Not wearing one’s seatbelt properly could be deadly. There is, and should be, zero tolerance for offenders.

And anyone who even sips alcohol before getting behind the wheel better make sure he or she’s under the legal limit — or else not drive.

The concern is that sometimes, the police might be too aggressive. If a driver is over the legal limit, by all means, make an arrest. But if a driver is under the legal limit, then he or she should not be detained. That’s why the state has determined what’s an acceptable BAC level and what’s not. According to Millerton Officer-in-Charge David Rudin, no one is ever arrested with a BAC below .08.

As far as getting ticketed for sitting in a running car without one’s seatbelt on? Well, that seems a little extreme. We want to make sure people buckle up, but we also want to be reasonable.

If, when slowing at a crosswalk, a driver is waived on, then why should he or she be stopped? Clearly, the pedestrian in question isn’t ready to cross, so why hold the driver to blame?

Some of this seems like common sense. 

We want the police to do their job — we want them to protect us. Residents and visitors alike need to realize that although some might be a little more zealous than others, Millerton police officers are just being diligent. It’s not easy, and it takes attention to detail and following a strict code of conduct. 

That might make the department appear inflexible or overly ardent. And in some cases, that could be true. The police shouldn’t be out to trap drivers who are just trying to make their way through town or make arrests without cause. But civilians need to take responsibility, too. We need to be lawful, always, not just when it’s convenient. 

Let’s help the police do the work they’re best at, and let’s hope they show their appreciation by being reasonable and fair-minded.