Rushville Republican

July 9, 2013

Police behavior was wrong


Rushville Republican

---- — Dear Editor:

On June 2, 2013, we set out to take our out-of-town guests on a tour of the covered bridges in Rush County. Wanting to show off the beautiful countryside and enjoy the beginnings of spring weather, we drove to Rushville to fuel up before beginning our tour.

After arriving in Rushville, I was pulled over by a police officer. The initial question was, “Do you know why I stopped you?” My answer was, “No.” The officer said he saw that I was not wearing my seat belt. Everyone in the car was, in fact, actually wearing our seat belts, but both of us in the front seat were not wearing the shoulder straps to the contraption. I was driving an older car that has after-market, optional shoulder straps.

The attending officer asked for my ID and for my front passenger’s ID. I gave the officer my driver’s license as requested and asked why the officer would want my passenger’s ID and he said, “Because I said so, it’s the law.”

I questioned him about the request and my passenger was hesitant because we questioned the legality of the request, so she did decline to give her driver’s license. The officer was insistent, so my passenger reluctantly handed me her driver’s license. I held the license while he wrote her information down.

The officer left my side of the vehicle with my license and my passenger’s information. He must have called for back-up as a second car arrived from the local police department. I’m not sure what was so intimidating about the four women in my vehicle and made me wonder the reason for the back-up vehicle. I don’t know if this is typical or not.

The first officer returned to the driver’s side and asked again for my front passengers’ ID. He then asked who the other two passengers were in my vehicle and asked for their IDs, as well. I informed the officer that in 49 years, this was the first time that an officer asked for an ID for all occupants in my vehicle. I asked him if he was sure he really wanted to do this and he answered yes.

After about five minutes, the second officer came up to the driver’s side passenger and demanded that one of my passengers get out. He yelled, “You, get out!” My guest unbuckled and got out of the car. The only direction given was to just stand there beside the vehicle. The officers then went back to their vehicles for approximately 10 minutes as she stood alone.

After the 10 minute wait, the passenger was told she could get back in the vehicle. No words were exchanged or any reason given for this specific treatment. I hope it wasn’t just an intimidation tactic because her skin was much darker than the others’ in the vehicle. Additionally, one of my passengers did not have her ID with her, yet she was not asked to step out of the vehicle. It made me wonder about the training our local police department is being given and by whom.

After the officer issued my front passenger and myself a ticket for seat belt infractions, we were again informed that it is the law for everyone to show their ID. With a wait of about 30 minutes for a seat belt infraction, a person has time to wonder about a few things.

After this encounter, I did look up the law regarding seat belt stops and it may be that the officer has been incorrectly trained and/or does not have an understanding of the law. He may want to identify all passengers - his explanation was that he may find a wanted criminal at a traffic stop - but if it is unlawful to do so, then it must not be allowed.

Indiana code is IC 9-19-10-3.1

Stopping, inspecting, or detaining vehicle; checkpoints

Sec. 3.1. (a) Except as provided in subsection (b), a vehicle may be stopped to determine compliance with this chapter. However, a vehicle, the contents of a vehicle, the driver of a vehicle, or a passenger in a vehicle may not be inspected, searched, or detained solely because of a violation of this chapter.

(b) A law enforcement agency may not use a safety belt checkpoint to detect and issue a citation for a person’s failure to comply with this chapter.

As added by P.L.214-2007, SEC.8.

I would like to point out the disparity between the purpose of the statute above, and how the Rushville PD wielded it in my case. Presumably, the seat belt laws were drafted with motorists’ safety in mind, and are not meant to be a mechanism for interrogation. A seat belt stop should only be made to ensure the safety of the individual driver and his/her passengers. As such, it stands to reason that such a stop should not include any type of interrogation or search, as they have no reasonable suspicion to believe that you are/have endangered anyone but yourself. The spirit of the law is to keep us safe.

I accept that we were ticketed for a seat belt infraction, so that is not the issue. I do not want our citizens to be treated rudely, prejudicially, and especially, unlawfully. We have a right to privacy and we have a right to travel. These are not privileges that can be given or taken at whim. Even by an officer who does not know the law. Considering that I find the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution an important issue, I found my experience awfully close to that “ slippery slope” and one I had hoped to avoid. Up to that point in our friend’s visit, she had been loving Indiana and we were thrilled to show her around. The way she was treated was an embarrassment and a shame, in our opinion.

I ask you, Reader, do we want our public employees treating our citizens and, especially tourists, in this manner?

Joyce Morrell

Chairman, Rush County Libertarian Party

 

Ride for Workman Fund appreciated

Dear Editor:

The committee for the Alex Workman Memorial Fund wishes to thank all who participated and the businesses that donated to our annual motorcycle ride fundraiser held June 15. A special thank you goes out to the Rushville Eagle Riders, who make this event possible.

The ride was a huge success, with all proceeds going directly into the memorial fund. This will be used to help families and schools in Rush County with autistic children. Our success was due to the generosity and kindness of people like you.

Sincerely,

Alex Workman

Memorial Fund Committee

Sheehan Cancer Center thank you

 

Dear Editor:

The members of the Rush Memorial Hospital Foundation board and Rush Memorial Hospital staff would like to thank Stagg’s Dairy Treats and Restaurant and the public for their gift of $812.20 to the RMH Sheehan Cancer Center. Many thanks to the staff of Stagg’s for promoting the Joe Sheehan Day and giving a portion of the proceeds back to the Sheehan Cancer Center. This money will go towards much needed equipment and supplies for our patients in the center. Thank you, Stagg’s and Rush County, for your wonderful and continued support!

Faith Mock

Executive Director

Rush Memorial Hospital Foundation

 

Chickens in Rush County

 

Dear Editor:

“The general trend in zoning has been to maintain certain rights of the individual, but to carefully control them in the hope that his development will not have adverse effects on the society around him. This is the basic aim of zoning in general, and this ordinance in particular.”- from page 4 of the Rush County Zoning Ordinance.

In reading page 4 of the Rush County Zoning Ordinance, it would seem that a balanced approach to zoning would be the desired course for those writing, and enforcing the ordinances. A deeper dive into the ordinance seems to reveal just the opposite when it comes to allowing animals on less than 10 acres, particularly chickens.

The current ordinance allows an owner of less than 10 acres a maximum of 10 fowl per acre on their property, which would equate to 90 fowl on 10 acres at the maximum.(One acre is applied to the dwelling unit, if there is one on the site.) In the same area of the county, one who wishes to build a chicken confinement operation or Confined Animal Feeding Operation, would be allowed to put as many as 8,000 chickens per acre on the minimum 40 acre parcel required for the operation.

When one looks at the large discrepancy in the number of animals allowed, it certainly begs the question as to why?

It is no secret that we are in the midst of the second most severe economic downturn in this country since the Great Depression. It should also be no secret that East Central Indiana counties have been victims of this downturn. One need only to look at the number of children in Rush County who received free or reduced school lunches in 2011 (a total of 1,241 of the 2,679 enrolled in the public schools) to see that food security is an issue in Rush County for many families. As families struggle to find adequate sources of nutrition, supplement their family income, or participate in 4-H projects, it would seem that there should be no problem with raising chickens in a predominantly agricultural area of a county like Rush County, or for that matter in any area of Rush County.

It’s absurd that the county wants to tightly regulate families with small flocks while they allow factory farms, which have a far greater impact on the quality of life in Rush County, to operate with lax local regulations.

With cities like Indianapolis allowing small numbers of chickens inside the city limits, it would seem that keeping chickens out of Rush County would be one of the last things on the minds of the Planning Commission. If the county is going to support agriculture, then support all forms of agriculture-not just a select few.

Steve Peckinpaugh

The Downstream Project

Middletown, IN

Writer opposes Washington trip

 

Dear Editor:

According to The Washington Post, based on a confidential planning document, President Obama’s trip to Africa, with the first family in tow, is projected to cost taxpayers as much as $100 million. The trip, planned for June 26 through July 3, is sparking criticism as the federal government scrimps along during sequester-related budget cuts.

Some of the items on the list include fighter jets; hundreds of Secret Service agents; a Navy ship with a full trauma center; and military cargo planes to bring 56 vehicles including 14 limousines and three trucks loaded with sheets of bullet-proof glass to cover the windows of the hotels where the first family will stay.

The trip comes as agencies across the federal government try to find cost-saving measures to deal with the massive, across-the-board budget cuts known as sequester. The Secret Service, for example, pushed to cancel public White House tours to save thousands in weekly overtime expenses.

Rep. George Holding pointed out that “for the cost of this trip to Africa, you could have 1,350 weeks of White House tours.” The North Carolina Republican went on to say that “it is no secret that we need to rein in government spending, and the Obama administration has regularly and repeatedly shown a lack of judgment for when and where to make cuts. The American people have had enough of the frivolous and careless spending.”

The White House had defended the trip cost saying the Secret Service plan determines the security cost and that first family’s trip will result in long-term goodwill.

Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications Ben Rhodes also defended the trip telling the Post “when you travel to regions like Africa that don’t get a lot of presidential attention, you tend to have very long-standing and long-running impact from the visit.”

One bit of good news, however, The president and first lady have cancelled plans to go on a safari that would have included the additional expense of a sharp-shooting team, responsible for putting down a cheetah, lion or any other wild animal that became a threat.

Just trying to do my part to cut spending.

Greg Gardner

Yuma, Ariz.

 

Until we meet again

 

Dear Editor:

To the Class of 1963, 50 years ago we were the graduating class of Rushville High School. As we exited the gymnasium, we all went on our separate journeys, our focus on the future, not realizing that we would never all be together as classmates again.

To those of us who were blessed by God to celebrate together our 50 year reunion, I would like to share a song I sometimes sing. It is titled “I’m Still Here.”

I’m still here

I’m still here

I made it through

So have you

We’ve come through the fire

We’ve come through some floods

We’re still here

Kept by God’s love

Until we meet again, Class of 1963, may God hold us in the palm of His hand.

Love to you always, your friend and classmate of 1963,

Marshia L. (English) Crowdus