Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The New Penalty For Littering

In today’s news:

South Brunswick, N.J.– A woman driving through South Brunswick tried to throw her cigarette out the car window, but instead the still-burning tobacco fell inside the vehicle, setting it on fire, police said.

At 9 a.m. Monday, police responded to a 911 call of a car burning and found the 1998 Honda Civic fully engulfed in flames, authorities said.

The 19-year-old driver from nearby Rocky Hill told police she had been smoking a cigarette before the fire and tried throwing it out the window. Moments later she realized she missed when she felt heat on her back and saw the car fill with smoke, police said.

She pulled over and escaped without injured, but the car was destroyed in the fire. It was extinguished by the Monmouth Junction Fire Department in South Brunswick, police said.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Don't Mess With The Old Guy

When a group of four thieves tried to steal a safe from the home of an 88-year-old resident of Kenilworth this past year, the World War II veteran took them on – and won.

The man has difficulty walking and typically uses a cane. But when he saw thieves trying to make off with his safe, "I ran right out there. I dropped my cane and I just went in action," he was quoted as saying.

Fueled by an adrenaline rush the man landed a few punches on one of the thieves. "They went through hell trying to get me away from them," he reported. When he yelled to his wife to call the police, the battered burglars took off.

Police subsequently recovered fingerprints and DNA evidence from the man’s home.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

One-Wheeled Renegades

We have all seen them – fearless motorcyclists popping wheelies on the Interstate, followed typically by a burst to great speed.

Modern sport bikes are compact, sleek, and powerful. And, as police know, no match for a Crown Victoria. A number of stories have hit the media recently about bikers "taunting" officers and then zipping off into anonymity, because the motorcycles are so much quicker than the cars.

The situation appears to be more acute in states where dashboard cameras are not commonly fitted to officers’ cruisers. In one particularly egregious instance in the state of Washington, an officer crashed heavily while chasing several bikes at high speed. The riders then stopped, and, far short of rendering any assistance to the badly injured officer, continued to taunt him before riding away.

There was no dash camera in the cruiser and the officer was able to provide only a partial license plate.

The current budget crisis facing departments nationwide is often cited as the reason all patrol cars do not have dashboard cameras, but even in good times dash cameras represent a costly investment. Still, more and more agencies are findings ways to fund the cameras because of their clear benefit to officer safety and public safety.

Many police officers are motorcycle enthusiasts themselves, and so they have a certain level of empathy for all riders. And most motorcycle enthusiasts ride responsibly. But the high visibility showboaters are giving all riders a lawless, brainless image.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Bicycling in Boise

The photo depicts part of an event known as Boise Bike Week, taking place in Boise Idaho.

Previously we have blogged about the need for motorists and bicyclists to share the road. In doing so we noted that, under New Jersey law, bicycles are considered to be vehicles just like cars and trucks. As such they are to be operated in a manner consistent with traffic laws, and motorists are to treat them as they might treat any other vehicle.

Now comes news that Boise has passed new ordinances that begins to tilt the balance of power toward the bicycle.

The City Council approved three pieces of bicycle-related legislation on January 12 of this year. Among the new requirements is that "the operator of the motor vehicle overtaking [a] bicycle traveling on the right side of the roadway shall not turn to the right in front of the bicycle at an intersection, alley, or driveway until such vehicle has overtaken the bicycle and has sufficient clearance to safely turn without requiring the bicyclist to brake or take evasive action to avoid a collision with the vehicle."

More significantly, it is now a misdemeanor to "intimidate or harass or cause another person to crash, stumble, or fall because that other person is walking along the roadway or operating a bicycle along the roadway."

We don’t know whether these new ordinances were inspired by increased bicycle traffic or intended to stimulate increased bicycle traffic. But at the very least the ordinances appear to recognize that motorists are in big heavy machines, while bicyclists are astride small light machines.

You can read the law at

Monday, August 2, 2010

Never Mind

On July 7, a resident of a nearby town called 9-1-1, reporting that her two-year-old daughter was missing. The caller reported that her daughter was last seen in or near the driveway about 15 minutes earlier.

Nothing will strike fear into the heart of a parent more than a missing child, and police and other first responders dread such calls because of the potential for an unbearably sad outcome.

Police were on the scene within minutes and launched a search. An officer with a K-9 search dog was dispatched as well.

After a few minutes of searching, the child was located in a upstairs bedroom of the residence, asleep.