Were a gunman to fire into a crowd, one could reasonably expect the police to take action no matter how much care the gunman took to avoid hitting anyone. But the police do nothing when, every day, automobile drivers or bicycle couriers race with equal danger through crowds of pedestrians in crosswalks.
There is a dangerous unwillingness to see a multi-ton vehicle as a weapon that is being used with increasingly reckless disregard for safety or to express drivers' frustrations.
At busy intersections, cars no longer stop for red lights. When turning right on red, few cars stop. Many drivers turning right on red aren't even looking at the pedestrian in the crosswalk; they are instead looking left for a gap in the traffic. Cars turning left to beat oncoming traffic are equally oblivious to pedestrians. Drivers regularly express their annoyance at having pedestrians in their way, sometimes with angry words, sometimes with horns and sometimes with their vehicles.
In the face of this, the misplaced priorities of the police are particularly disturbing. I regularly see multiple police cars stopping HOV violators, staffing speed traps and ticketing those who fail to turn in turn-only lanes. I have never seen a ticket or an arrest for recklessly endangering others.
One purpose of law enforcement is to provide a civilized, restrained response to situations in which persons might otherwise seek private remedies and retribution. The refusal of police to protect the more defenseless users of the streets is causing some citizens to react violently. I have observed pedestrians and bicyclists shout provocative statements and strike cars that have endangered them. I have seen altercations result.
It is time for the police to stop running up ticket quotas on easy speeding, HOV and illegal-turn busts in which no one is endangered and, instead, to focus on the increasingly reckless use of vehicles in the presence of others.
LARRY CORCORAN Arlington