Here’s a story that popped up a while back that I didn’t get the chance to cover at the time, but it seems appropriate today. It came up in a discussion regarding cops who insist that you can’t videotape their abuses.
The deal is that, in a case that worked its way (slowly) to the Ohio Supreme Court, the following things happened:
#1 - A guy had the temerity to contest his speeding ticket. This, as we’ve covered before, angers prosecutors and judges who feel that anyone not pleading guilty is “wasting their time” and want to come up with any way to punish the impudent peon for doing so.
#2 - The radar gun evidence was thrown out of court. The reason? The cop couldn’t produce documentation to prove he was certified to operate the radar gun correctly.
#3 - At this point, the cop claimed that nevermind the radar gun, he was “trained to estimate speeds” during the police academy training and thus was able to “estimate” that the defendant was moving at least 70 mph (in a 60mph limit zone).
#4 - the Ohio Supreme Court bought this hook, line, and sinker.
The training the court refers to is given by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, and its rigor is questionable. To pass the test, an officer has to determine the speed of a moving vehicle by watching cars go by and estimating their speeds. Guess the speed to within five miles per hour of the radar-gun-detected speed and you get a certificate and are officially “trained.”
As near as I can tell, this opens the door for the Badged Highwaymen of Ohio to “estimate” anyone’s speed they want, write the ticket, and give the citizen zero ability to contest their ticket later (since the “officer’s word is good enough”, nevermind the “innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” standard normally employed in criminal cases). Can someone help me figure this one out?