Storm Chaser arrested for impersonating a peace officer

Discussion in 'Weather In The News' started by Ben Holcomb, May 9, 2017.

  1. Ben Holcomb

    Ben Holcomb Digital Janitor
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  2. Mike Marz

    Mike Marz Member

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    Ugh, someone beat me to posting this... Anyways, in my humble opinion, I find chasing with light bars to be pointless, and annoying. Some of them are extremely bright and can actually make it HARDER to see the road for some people. I'm sure some of you that use light bars have good reason for doing so, and use them properly and without blinding people. I guess I'm ok with that. But, some of the stuff I see out there chasing is just rediculous and feels like it's all for the "look at me" factor... I personally got a good laugh from this story...
     
  3. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    From what I understand, it wasn't just the lights - it as a fully decked-out white Crown Vic complete with brush guards and spotlights. Looks exactly like a State Trooper cruiser minus the markings. Not that running blues and reds alone wouldn't invite trouble.
     
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  4. Jeff Duda

    Jeff Duda Arbitrarily calls almost every setup a bust
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    But 'light bars' isn't in the title of the thread, so no one will care :p

    I'm generally with Mike regarding light bars. They just don't accomplish anything worthwhile.
     
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  5. Cody Christofferson

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    What would prompt a chaser to do something like that? I also agree with much of what is posted above: I don't see any reason a chaser would need a lightbar other than as an attention grabber.
     
  6. Brad Dormer

    Brad Dormer Member

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    Same guy also assaulted another chaser earlier this year, (or maybe late last year, can't remember). Hopefully he stays in jail for a while and learns his lesson.
     
  7. Matt Hunt

    Matt Hunt Member

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    Personally, I try to NOT attract attention to myself. Unless you're close enough to see my laptop and hail dents all over the car, I look no different than any other car out on the road.
     
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  8. ScottCurry

    ScottCurry Member

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    Don't hate, but I'm taking the opposite view on lightbars (blue/red is idiotic and illegal btw... I'm talking about amber).

    I live in Colorado. Last year, I was constantly getting stares from cops and getting lit up because my car had antennas on it and the police thought I might be impersonating an officer. So I threw an amber light bar on top of my car (the kind where the plastic is amber and not clear). I picked up a class I (dim lightbar) for $50 from an automotive shop. And guess what happened? The cops left me alone because now my car looked like a construction vehicle.

    I only actually used it four times (I no longer have it as I no longer have that car):
    1. To block a flooded road that was under 4' of water.
    2. To block a flooded lane in a road that was under 2-3' of water. Another guy in a construction truck actually stopped and turned on his ambers on that one because he said my amber light was too dim to see (it was).
    3. When a vehicle traveling the opposite direction was passing a car and we were about to get into a head on collision. I wanted to increase my visibility.
    4. When I crashed my car into a guard rail and my car was blocking a lane of traffic.
    So those are my good reasons to have a lightbar. Notice none of them involve driving down the road in the middle of a storm so other cars don't hit you. Because the fact is, I might hit you BECAUSE you are using class III ambers while driving down the road, and now I'm blind.
     
  9. Jeff Duda

    Jeff Duda Arbitrarily calls almost every setup a bust
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    Thank you for using them responsibly and humbly!
     
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  10. Todd Lemery

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    I hope this doesn't reflect poorly on all chasers. This was a case of some jackass who happened to chase storms. It shouldn't be tied to all chasers any more than it should be tied to all poker players if he happened to play poker...
     
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  11. rdale

    rdale Member

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    Every year we have at least one incident that people worry might reflect poorly on all chasers... #HasntHappenedYetAndNoReasonToThinkThisWillChange
     
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  12. john.hale

    john.hale Noob

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    Light bars used appropriately isn't an issue and shouldn't be if you use the right colors and follow state laws and not be stupid and go all overkill. The main issue was his car looked exactly like a cop car (retired crown vic) with red and blues while driving in a county where they had an incident of someone impersonating a peace officer just a day or so ago. This wasn't just about the lights.

    Sent from my LGMS210 using Stormtrack mobile app
     
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  13. Dan Robinson

    Dan Robinson WxLibrary Editor
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    An old thread for reference RE the lightbar issue. Note - opinions can and do change.
    https://stormtrack.org/community/threads/lightbars-whats-the-deal.19632/

    My take from a few years ago:
    http://stormhighway.com/blog2011/march711b.php

    I started out with a lightbar and taillight strobes on my vehicle. After many years, I don't find many scenarios that justify their cost and installation. They're widely seen as ostentatious within the chase community and usually end up being the subject of ridicule and scorn. In some cases, there are legitimate safety and legal issues with using them (as in this case). Very bright lightbars can impair vision of other drivers. I was behind a slow-moving chaser running them in Texas in 2015, and I wasn't able to pass because I couldn't see past their vehicle due to the extreme glare.

    If one is inclined to use them, rear-facing ambers are the safest bet to be legal and actually have some utility in the very rare case you might need to warn drivers of a downed tree, power line or flooded road. I still have ambers in my rear window and have used them maybe twice in the past 3 years. Anything front-facing or side-facing, colors other than amber and/or using them while in motion is inviting legal trouble and ridicule/scorn from the chase community.

    Most chasers have followed a path of initially using them, then slowly abandoning/renouncing their use. I think some of the criticism goes overboard (nobody really cares, who looks at a flag car or construction vehicle and gets bent out of shape), but the reality is they are quite the pariah in the community.
     
    #13 Dan Robinson, May 10, 2017
    Last edited: May 10, 2017
  14. John Erwin

    John Erwin Member

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    Quite frankly this looks more like a case of "whackerism" than anything else, although in this case the "whacker" also appears to dabble in storm chasing somewhat. Although I'm not inclined to use any special lights when chasing, this case bears no real resemblance to most of the discussion in that regard.

    Sent from my LG-H831 using Stormtrack mobile app
     
  15. Matt Tottle

    Matt Tottle Member

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    Sorry but I call BS on this. Antennas are absolutely not something that would lead police to believe that you are trying to impersonate. and if that truly was the situation you would have had an iron clad harassment complaint, along with every ham in the county.
     
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  16. Jesse Risley

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    Most chasers shouldn't have problems with impersonation charges per se, though I'm sure the wording of those statutes differs in every single state. Generally speaking, LEOs don't care about (legal) lights, light bars, radio equipment, or other chasing apparatus that is otherwise perfectly legal to possess and operate in a motor vehicle. However, if you are claiming to be a LEO, or you are operating equipment only legal for use by emergency service vehicles, e.g., lighting permissible only to emergency services personnel, then you're justifiably going to run into trouble.
     
  17. ScottCurry

    ScottCurry Member

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    If you've ever dealt with Denver police, you would understand. I was never ticketed or otherwise charged. Most of the time it was a stare and a flood light pointed into my vehicle. For the two times I did get pulled over, it was just a quick pull over to the side of the road, give the officer my license and registration, a quick 1 minute chat, and I was on my way. The two times I got pulled over, it was after 11pm, so that may have increased the officer's suspicions. And yes, I did often wonder if other hams experienced the same thing. I've never asked though.
     
  18. Warren Faidley

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    The more legal lighting, the better. I do not have anything added on my vehicle that flashes red, green or blue, but I do have enough legal lighting to get attention. As an EMT I often stop to check things out and it's a fact that the more exotic lighting you have, the less likely you are to be hit by someone. We blocked a road as a killer tornado crossed in front of us during the 2011 Chickasha, OK tornado (thus diverting a school bus) by blasting the side of the highway with a mega-lumens of legal warning lights from my vehicle -- causing everyone to slow down so I could inform them. An OHP officer who passed by thanked us later when we were conducting S&R in the city.

    If you are not law enforcement or some other form of service that legally allows you to use emergency red / blue / green illumination, then don't do it. I would care less what kind of lighting a chasers has on their vehicle. However, if you come up behind me with illegal red / blues, then I'm calling you out to LEO.
     
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  19. Bob Schafer

    Bob Schafer Member

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    That is my county and my local paper. I called the jail to see if he's still there. No, he's gone. I figured if he was still there, and I could talk to him, and a friend or family member was willing to immediatey transfer funds to my account to post bail I would be willing to get him out of there. He may be an idiot but I believed it to be the least I could do for another "chaser".
     
  20. Darren Addy

    Darren Addy Member

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    Don't know if Ben's keeping the lights out of the headline was strategic or not (and whether it was good strategy or not). This thread would probably be 4x longer if he had included it. :)
     
  21. Jesse Risley

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    I have had something similar happen on two occasions regarding equipment inquiries. I do NOT have any light bars, LEDs, or any other sort of added lighting assemblies, though I have a scanner and Motorola commercial radio for ham use while chasing. I also have a laptop mount that I only leave attached to the floor mount when I am chasing. Since it is an older 2005 Impala (early to mid-2000s body style), it resembles the cruisers that some departments used 5-10 years ago, though it was never used as a police vehicle. Twice during roadside safety checks, while I was not actively chasing, I've had Illinois state troopers express skepticism about the radio equipment. One trooper asked to see a copy of my ham radio license, which I presented, since I keep it in my glove box. On another occasion, one of the troopers asked if I had any lights or sirens in the vehicle, and requested permission to conduct a vehicle search, which I politely declined and they did not push the issue, having no probable cause to detain me. He thought that the base of the laptop mount was doubling as a de facto firearm mount of some sort.
     
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    #21 Jesse Risley, May 10, 2017
    Last edited: May 11, 2017
  22. Joey Ketcham

    Joey Ketcham Member

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    If he was pulled over, then it was because he WAS breaking the law (speeding, crossing the center line.. etc).. not because of having antenna's on his vehicle. I do have a cousin that I'm close with that is a Lieutenant with the Denver Police Department, so I could simply ask him and see if they randomly pull people over for having antennas on their vehicle. My guess would be his answer would be no..
     
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  23. Glen Heinz

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    Antennas? What? That's not a legal reason to be pulled over. Staring at you? Did you ever just stop and ask or talk to them, when being pulled over? Don't be a dick about it, just kindly ask them. Maybe because your staring at them. Not paying attention to the road. Do you have any other devices on your car. That scream look at me? IE-> Anemometer, Hail netting, bright candy red color sport car or a F*%k the Police bumper sticker?..
     
  24. Paul Knightley

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    I know a few will have lightbars because of considering a safety aspect - I suspect many have them because they like to be seen as storm chasers - which includes having decals over their cars, etc. Then it's about them and not the storm!
     
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  25. ericjkelly

    ericjkelly Member

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    Agreeing with Paul and others here......most chasers want to be known as chasers. That is why they have decals, stickers, lights, etc etc etc. It is certainly NOT about keeping others safe, if that was the case they wouldnt pull over in the middle of the road, blow through intersections, etc. Lets just be real and honest here.
     
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