Motorists beware: In some communities, police are issuing tickets during these hard times at a rate higher than ever in what critics say is an attempt to raise revenue in order to offset budget shortfalls...The argument could be made (and has been) that such efforts are not only insane, but they border on highway robbery. And to be honest, I'm quite sympathetic to the argument. The police really do have better things to do with their time than to make sure people are properly buckled up. Law enforcement should not be a revenue stream upon which cities and counties rely: that state of affairs creates a vested interest in the perpetuation of lawbreaking*. On the other hand, what do we have law enforcement for if not to enforce the law?
Police Chief Michael Reaves of Utica, Michigan, says the role of law enforcement has changed over the years. “When I first started in this job 30 years ago, police work was never about revenue enhancement, but if you’re a chief now, you have to look at whether your department produces revenues,” he says. “That’s just the reality nowadays.”
I don't think the ultimate problem is police enforcement of the myriad of intrusive, vague, and contradictory laws on citizens, but the existence of the laws themselves. It's amazing to me the sheer number of people who will complain about getting a speeding ticket yet insist that we must have the very laws they go out and break. "We have to have speed limits," they will insist, "because if we don't, then everyone will drive too fast." Every like you, you mean? They are sure we also need laws requiring people buckle kids in special seats up to age 12, we need seat belt laws, we need vehicle inspections. They support** homeowners associations that threaten vets for having marine corp stickers on their trucks. In short, people demand the very restrictions on others that they complain about being enforced on them.
The very worst solution for a society that pretends to respect the law is to insist that the cops selectively enforce them. All that accomplishes is empowering prosecutors to "get" whoever they want whenever they wish. It also creates a disdain for the law and tempts people into the thrill of trying to get away with things.
Rather, I think the laws ought to be enforced universally and without exception. Then if people get tired of being harassed, they might have some incentive to see that the intrusive and ridiculous laws are repealed. If we don't think people ought to be prosecuted for adultery, or for growing pot for personal use, or for having chickens inside city limits, then we need to repeal the laws that make such things illegal. If police have better things to do than harassing motorists, then the simple solution is to repeal the laws that put motorists under their thumb.
* Or as the head of the Michigan police union put it, “A lot of police chiefs will tell you the goal is to have nobody speeding through their community, but heaven forbid if it should actually happen—they’d be out of money.”
** Sure, they may disagree with this enforcement of the rules or that one, but they sign the charters and pay the dues.