St. Louis county has scores of incorporated areas. Some of these areas pay the county to provide their own police protection, others hire a cop or two. In order to pay for their own force some of the incorporated towns set up speed traps. These are widely known by the locals, so only out of state visitors or the distracted ever get pulled over.
If you live in South St. Louis County, you know the St. George police. There’s a stretch of Mackenzie/Reavis Barracks Rd. where the speed limit drops from 35 to 30 – that’s St. George. Go 31 and you’ll get pulled over and ticketed. Do anything out of the ordinary and expect the same.
I like cops. I think they have a tough, dangerous and usually thankless job. In my time I’ve been on the wrong side of the law – not often or recently, but I’ve raised my own version of hell and paid the price. In every case I was treated fairly and decently by the police.
In every case except for a run in with the cops of St. George.
I was 16 and had my license for less than a week. I was driving my mom’s car with my best friend Lenny beside me. He was wearing his torn up Sex Pistols shirt and must have a touch of Anarchy in his brain because as we passed a St. George cop who had pulled over some unlucky driver, he leaned out of the passenger window and let rip with a wolfish howl.
At the time I didn’t think anything of it and continued driving. After about a half mile or so I spotted flashing lights in the distance. I knew it was the St. George cop so I did what any 16 year old with a week old driver’s license does: I decided to run.
That sounds more dramatic than it was. What I actually did was I turned into the maze of my subdivision, and then made a few quick turns – all while never breaking the 25 mph speed limit. You won’t be seeing it any time soon on World’s Fastest Police Chases.
The cop had me in less than 3 blocks.
What followed was an ass chewing very similar to the one this 20 year old kid got.
[I exit the vehicle]
Officer #1: Let me see your ID.
[I give him my valid Missouri License]
Officer #1: Let me see your insurance card for the vehicle.
Brett: Did I commit a moving violation?
Officer #1: Yeah you did, when you were coming in here.
Brett: Really? What was that?
Officer #1: Yeah, you wanna try me? You wanna try me tonight? You think you’ve had a bad night? I will ruin your ****ing night.
[Officer starts to get close up to my face]
Officer #1 You want to try me?
[Officer is inches away from my face, screaming as I’m pinned between him and my vehicle]
Officer #1 Do you wanna try me young boy? Do you want to try me tonight young boy?
Brett: No I don’t.
Officer #1: Do you want to go to jail for some ****ing reason I come up with?
Brett: No I don’t.
Officer #1: Do you wanna see who knows the law better, me or you. My experience compared to your young ass. Huh? Don’t ever get smart mouthed with a cop again. I show you what a cop does. Do you understand me?
Brett: Yes sir.
Officer #1: Try and talk back—Talk back to me again. I bet I could say you resisted arrest or something. You want to come up with something? I come up with nine things. Do you wanna try something?
Brett: No I don’t.
Officer #1: Wait here.
Read the entire thing.
As I said, I like cops – and even when I was an idiot I never disrespected them. They scared me way too much for that.
But the ass chewing I got from that cop in St. George I always thought was a bit undeserved. He ended up following me home that night, and sat in my driveway as I told my mother what had happened. He didn’t say a word to her or me. I think he went over to Lenny’s house and did the same thing with his parents. Even my mother – who in her 60+ years of driving has never once been ticketed – didn’t think it was a big deal.
I always felt that it was a pure power trip for the St. George cop. It fit their image – shaking down law abiding citizens for no good reason. The town’s police chief was even implicated in a car bomb that killed a mob boss as he drove down an interstate bordering St. George. If memory serves, he allowed the person who triggered the bomb to sit in a car waiting for the old man to pass nearby.
I was 16, a sophomore in Catholic high school and at that time, a pretty good kid. He completely ripped me a new one for kicks.
Cops protect the weak; they don’t pile on them. Yes, what Lenny did was stupid but it was rather innocuous. He could have let the incident pass, or at least, not scared the beejesus out of me. I was 16 and weighed all of 110 lbs. He thought he was going to teach me a lesson – and he did: Some cops are assholes.
So congratulations, St. George. I saw your town slammed on the “law & order channel” Fox News 1200 miles away.
It’s amazing how some things change, and others stay the same. 24 years later and your town still sucks.
UPDATE: After reader feedback, let me make something clear: I like cops. I think they have a crappy job that they don’t get paid enough to do. I view a sign of maturity as spotting a cop and NOT getting scared.
My beef is with cops who make ordinary law abiding citizens into criminals. St. George cops were notorious for throwing their weight around unnecessarily. I respect the badge, but I don’t respect abuse of the power that sometimes comes with that badge.
Oh, and for what its worth, I’m a big fan of Cops and CourtTV.