Speed Trap Ahead? Here’s your sign

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Do you blink your headlights to oncoming traffic when you see a patrol car sitting on the side of the road? Do you tell your friends when you identify a “speed trap?”
Having just returned from Frisco, Texas where I attended the annual Texas Press Association convention, a recent news bite caught my attention.
CNN is reporting of a man who was arrested in Frisco, Texas for holding a sign. Ron Martin was arrested for holding a sign that read, “Police Ahead.”
Martin, though when questioned claimed he was attempting to assist police by warning fellow drivers to slow down. The Frisco Police Department did not agree with Martin, nor did they appreciate his help.
Martin was arrested for a misdemeanor violation of holding a sign on public property. In his first court appearance, Martin made claim that what he was doing was no different than a publicly posted “slow down” sign one might see on the right-of-way of any Texas highway.
Some might argue warning of police activity on your commute is not the right thing to do. If a person is speeding, they are breaking the law, and therefore should be caught.
Some might argue that the act of flashing your headlights in fact will slow a speeder down; therefore you are helping the police do their job,
I believe that all traffic laws are written for a reason. If you are speeding and the police catch you, well, you should not be speeding. Having been on scene for a few collisions, I can tell you two cars colliding at 70 mph, head on, is not a sight you want to see, and for the most part, no one walks away from a wreck like that.
As for Martin, he was alerting people to a “speed trap,” and that is a different story in my opinion. In this column I have posted known “speed traps” of Robertson County, and I will do it again. Why? Simple, a “speed trap,” has many negative effects on a community.
Martin is not alone in his public awareness message.
Natelie Plumber, a Houston woman was recently arrested for doing the same thing. Plumber was arrested after passing a pull over “speed trap” being conducted by the Houston Police Department. Plumber was riding her bike and pulled over to the side of the road after passing the “speed trap.”
Standing on the sidewalk, Plumber made a sign that read “Speed Trap.” and from the sidewalk, displayed the sign until HPD drove up to arrest her. Plumber was arrested for impeding traffic, though she claims she never left the sidewalk. HPD claims Plumber stepped into the roadway to display her sign. “If there is video of me in the road, I would love to see it, because it does not exist,” “The officer made a point to tell me I was being arrested for the sign, and to teach me a lesson,” said Plumber in an ABC Good Morning America interview.
The question of first amendment rights is in play with these two cases as both argue that the police departments in questions have impeded their right to free speech and many agree. While you may not support the message, you need to support the right to display that message.
In the case of Martin, Frisco Police Department issued a statement that in fact they do not have a problem with Martin’s sign, but in his choice to display it on public property. An ordinance in Frisco, Texas prevents any signs or human signs from display on public property.
Plumber’s situation has gone viral on social media sights like Twitter and Facebook touting Plumber’s deeds as heroic. Heroin or villain, Plumber has driven national attention to the Lone Star State. Plumber has hired an attorney to file a formal complaint against the Houston Police Department.

Dennis Phillips / Publisher

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