DC'S GOT IT TOGETHER, proclaim the signs around town. All right, so maybe the tone is a little over-boastful. Still, we do seem to be moving toward the day when all of us will be buckled up whenever we are inside a motor vehicle.

All of us, that is, except the cops.

Nancy Fiedelman of Alexandria had just sent along the results of an experiment she conducted. For several months, she had been glancing into D.C. police cars she passes to see if the occupants are wearing seat belts. "My observations have noted not one instance of an officer belted up," Nancy reports.

Are the boys and girls in blue exempt from the new D.C. seat belt law? No, indeed, said Shannon Crockett, a public information officer for the police department.

"They are supposed to wear their belts," said Officer Crockett. "If they are in a rush -- to an emergency, for example -- and they forget to wear their belt, they would be advised afterwards. I do not think that disciplinary action has ever been taken in such a case. However, especially with the new law, they will be reminded all the time."

It's a safe assumption that reminders will suffice. After all, no one knows better than the police how a high-speed foray through the city can end up.

Here's another case in which a police officer acted in less than exemplary fashion. The following episode took place at 8 p.m. May 18 at Eighth and I streets NW.

A Washington man was driving own the street when he noticed a friend of his walking along the sidewalk. The driver pulled over to say hello to the friend.

The curbside space he pulled into was marked NO PARKING, but the sign said nothing about standing. Besides, the driver left his motor running during the chat. And it was a Sunday night, when traffic is always relatively light in that part of town.

Up walks a policeman. He asks for the driver's license and registration. The driver asks why. The policeman replies that the car is illegally parked and he intends to issue the driver a parking ticket.

The driver points out that the car isn't parked because the motor is still running. The policeman ignores that observation, and repeats his demand for the registration. To produce it, the driver has to open the glove compartment. To do that, he has to turn off the engine so he can get at the glove compartment key.

As soon as the driver turns off the engine, the policeman says: "You're parked now." And he finishes writing the ticket.

"I don't know if you have a Good Samaritan of the Year Award," begins Liz Williams of Alexandria. Well, Liz, I didn't befor now, but I think I'd better start.Cathleen Caridakis of Fairfax is the reason.

One recent Sunday, Liz and a friend had taken the friend's horse, Hope, to a horse show. Hope was tied to a trailer -- then suddenly, she wasn't. As soon as the horse smelled freedom, she began galloping away -- across hills, dales and a couple of major highways.

"Cathleen was exercising her trusty gray gelding in a nearby field," Liz reports. When she saw Hope whip past, she decided to try to catch her.

The chase took Hope and Cathleen across "half of Fairfax County," according to Hope's owner. Finally, however, Cathleen caught up with Hope and caught hold of her.

End of story? Not yet. On the way back to Liz, Hope decided that she didn't like what was going on. She began to lash out with her hind legs at both Cathleen and Cathleen's gelding. Both were seriously bruised, but Cathleen held on. A few minutes later, Hope was back in Liz's grateful hands.

As Liz points out, to chase Hope was samaritanlike, but "to persevere in bringing the horse back after having been attacked and injured is incredible." Here's to a horsewoman who obviously knows her stuff -- and who obviously takes the golden rule seriously.

I always knew The Absolute Truth was to be found in newspaper columns, and the people who perpetrate them. Now I have proof.

The National Society of Newspaper Columnists recently commissioned a survey of its membership. One question was, "Do you want to be a columnist forever?"

Like the drone I am, I answered, simply, "Yes." But one of my colleagues (nameless, alas) couldn't resist the chance to get off a great line.

"Only until dead," he wrote.

Bob Orben says a liberal arts education is very valuable. It allows you to fill out your unemployment insurance application in Latin.