By Bradford J. Treacle
Oswaldo Lopez didn’t expect to become a revolutionary change-maker at the City of Miami Gardens Police Department when he started his shift on Tuesday. It was shaping up to be just another day in his squad car watching old Dolphins highlights on his console computer.
“Most days I’m just parked at construction sites to block traffic or in front of a Whole Foods or Publix to keep any perps from thinking of doing anything,” admitted Lopez, a five-year veteran on the force.
“But I was on my way to Gloria’s Cafe- she always gives me free cafecito- when I saw a beat up Volvo station wagon with a Vermont license plate and a Greenpeace bumper sticker and thought: ‘Oh this guy’s gotta be a Communist, it’s my duty to pull him over for that.'”
Lopez followed the Volvo as it approached a four-way stop, then hit the lights as the driver drifted through to the right. The Volvo complied with orders to stop and exit the intersection, pulling onto the shoulder in front of a Navarro.
“It wasn’t until I was walking over to the driver’s window that I remembered the Chief had told us all off for trying to issue tickets to people for their political affiliations. I realized I had to come up with a reason to have stopped this guy quick or it’d be my ass. So I looked around for the first legal-looking thing I could find, and saw those big red STOP signs and thought maybe that would work.”
Lopez informed the driver that ‘STOP means stop,’ and when he was met with little resistance, he figured he was on to something.
“I took his license to run it and went back to my car and had an inspiration when I sat down. I figured I should look up stop signs and traffic laws on my computer, so I clicked away from that Brazzers video I had on and Googled “stop sign law.” Sure enough, there’s an actual, like, car law that this dude broke! So I wrote it down on a citation: failure to stop at a stop sign – Chapter 316 Section 123. You can’t make this stuff up!”
The driver accepted his citation and showed no indication he would dispute it in court. They parted ways, and Lopez gleefully called radioed the station to tell everyone what had happened.
“It turns out there’s all sorts of things you can bust people for doing while they’re driving,” claims Officer Ted Sykes, former beat partner and current best friend to Lopez. “Like when those hot cars on I-95 go 110 miles an hour and weave all over the lanes – we can stop them for that! I’d feel a little bad since we have a good time turning on our sirens so we can hit it and go across all the lanes, but still — the law is the law.”
Lopez was commended by his superiors upon returning to the station after his shift. Word spread quickly across the precinct that there was plenty of authority to be laid down on the busy streets of Miami. According to a random IT guy for flsenate.gov, there were more hits on their site to search for motor vehicle regulations in the past week than in the history of state vehicle code.
Even back home, the celebration for Lopez continued. The officer’s wife, Marisol, received a congratulatory call from the precinct chief and accepted a $100 gift card to P.F. Chang’s from everyone at the department.
“I’m so proud of him,” shared a tearful Mrs. Lopez. “I haven’t been this proud of him since he got those racial profiling charges acquitted.”
Miami drivers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with vehicle laws, since there is the shred of a possibility they may actually get pulled over for a legitimate reason some time, given the city’s driving habits.