I turned the corner and was surprised and more than mildly alarmed by the van traveling head-on towards me in my lane. I stopped and the van missed me. The van’s passing revealed a police car blocking the lane that the van should have been in. This was at a somewhat busy intersection in Framingham (busy enough to run a speed trap at, anyway). A Framingham police officer had pulled over a driver and was creating a hazard for everyone driving through the busy intersection unnecessarily. There was an open area where the road widened a few yards ahead of where the officer had a car pulled over. Given my surprise visit by the wrong way van, I rolled down my window and asked the police officer to have the driver pull forward for safety.
I parked and returned to the site on foot. The same officer, Debra Capobianco, was running a speed trap at the intersection and was ready to endanger the public again. I hoped that perhaps she was a rookie officer who just hadn’t noticed the dangerous road condition she was creating, and that maybe we could discuss the matter. I would later learn that Officer Capobianco has been “working this job for 28 years.”
Capobianco began making excuses for her failure to ask the driver to move to a safe location.
“Well the more I get in and out of my car – I was almost done writing him, the more I get in and out of my car, I have my lights and there’s a reason for that and there was a curb right there, so for me to get back out and… I was done.”
The curb officer Capobianco referenced is only at the corners of the intersection so her statement proves she was blocking the intersection and the reason she seems to cite for this is that she was too lazy to get out of her car an extra time. I gave up at that point – it was pretty clear that she wasn’t interested in discussing the issue with me so I politely thanked her and began to walk away.
Capobianco wasn’t done with me though. “Ya know I’m just doing my job out here – I’m so sorry I affected you so badly.” The apology seemed sarcastic because clearly she wasn’t sorry nor was she concerned with what effects her actions had, but I reassured her she hadn’t affected me badly (the van had missed, after all). I explained my intent was to bring a public safety concern to her.
I don’t like police doing revenue generation hallway monitoring to begin with, but my distaste for the practice grows exponentially when the revenue generator is endangering the public they claim to serve and protect. Since Capobianco claimed she was just doing her job I decided to discuss exactly what “job” she was doing.
She didn’t like it.
Capobianco seemed insulted that I called her speed trap and disregard for public safety “revenue generation,” so to make a point she decided to show me, on camera, a fist full of what I assume are warning citations she had written. Out of respect for the privacy of the people involved I didn’t read the citations so I’m basing the guess that they were warnings from context.
Massachusetts Uniform Citations include the name, address, sex, race, and date of birth of the person who receives either a warning or a citation so either way the information the officer provided me with is private and inappropriate to share.
I’m not sure why Capobianco would provide me with detailed private information of the people she had pulled over, but I think her point was that she wasn’t writing tickets to everyone. She was still running a speed trap, so it was still a revenue generation scheme. That she had yet to successfully find anyone who was actually driving in a dangerous or illegal enough manner to justify a ticket just underscores that her endangering the public and hassling drivers held no benefit at all.
The next line from her mouth was, “I’m doing revenue generation, okay? This is my revenue (the citations she showed me). People gettin' pulled over - I advise them. I’ve been working this job for 28 years, alright? And usually people walk away from me in any… 99% of situations I deal with, they smile and they thank me just like he just did.” Good point, now I totally understand why you would endanger the public out of laziness and then give out people’s private information.
I think this is what passes for a good cop.
Capobianco might neglect public safety when she’s “advising” the people she pulls over at speed traps, but at least she doesn’t write vicious tickets? Sure she was rude, unprofessional, and lazy but at least she didn’t threaten me or tell me to stop filming. She even gave me her name (and many other people's names and addresses) and badge number. Those actions set her ahead of many police officers I’ve encountered, but not all – I have come across some who are professional, polite, and even helpful.
Sadly this is an example of a “good cop,” but only because she’s being compared to the bulk of other police. If she was compared to the average retail worker, she would be “bad.” For instance if Capobianco was a retail employee and carelessly endangered customers then showed their private information to a reporter in anger at being called out on her dangerous actions, she’d be looking for a new job that day. She’s good for a cop, but that’s not saying much based on my experiences with police.