Police Abuse

Houston Student Detained for 12 Hours After Warning Drivers of Speed Trap

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Natalie Plummer and her sign warning drivers of speed trap.

About two weeks ago, Natalie Plummer was riding her bike home from the grocery store when she noticed Houston police officers pulling over alleged speeders. "I felt like he was just pulling random cars over," Plummer told ABC News-Houston. So the college student pulls over, scribbles on her paper grocery bag a sign that warns drivers of the speed trap ahead, and posts up on the side of the street, letting people know cops were looking for speeders.

"I was simply warning citizens of a situation ahead," Plummer said.

Houston cops didn't quite see it that way. Just a few minutes after holding up her public service announcement, an officer drove over to Plummer, jumped out of the car and grabbed on to her backpack. "[The officer] started pulling on my backpack and started pulling me around and said 'give me that, give me that,'" Plummer told reporters, referring to her paper bag warning. Within a few minutes, the woman was under arrest for obstructing justice—a charge the officer told her could get up to five years in prison.

Plummer was detained in a Houston jail for twelve hours after the incident. Her charge was later changed to walking in the roadway where sidewalks are provided, a misdemeanor that Plummer claims is just bogus. "[I stayed] on the sidewalk the entire time," she said.

The Houston Police Department insists the arrest was a valid one. "It is an arrestable offense," the Houston PD spokesperson told KPLCtv. "It was the officer's decision to arrest her."

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  1. Maybe the people of Houston should be allowed to fire him.

    1. I think Planet Houston should simply surrender.

      1. Kneel before Zod!

        1. ONE before Zod!
          TWO before Zod!

  2. Cell phone video may become the greatest device to reign in cops in the history of mankind. I pray someone somewhere got this on tape. Cops should always remember that they may have been on camera when they start making shit up.

    1. Rein in. They already reign.

    1. Joe Hoffman – Uberdouche

      You are correct that there is a war against law enforcement in this country. We face literal assaults by the criminals on the street and political attacks by our elected officials who purport to act in their constituents’ best interests. In a sense, the political attacks can be just as bad because they often last longer and have a debilitating effect on morale and also the department’s budget. The politicians are only as good as the people who elect them and the people who elect them are sometimes garbage.

      It’s sad how some of our fellow members of law enforcement, both front line and administration, are not only failing to pull their own weight in this war, but have actually joined the other side in the fight against us. They are cowards, one and all. And the worst part is, they don’t even see the opposition that they indirectly aid would just as soon see them dead or de-powered from any meaningful position of authority.

      This scum sucking pig should move to NorKo where he belongs.

      1. Tag fail, last line is mine, not the douchebags.

      2. New assignment: Go to Police One, bring something back to laugh at. Here’s a good one:

        I watched the video above and did not see any cruiser video (or other video) of when this incident occurred. So all we have to go on is this dumb B****’s word and the dumb reporter’s news story. Me being a cop, I’m gonna take sides with my fellow brother and assume he did the right thing, until I see otherwise. I find it completely inappropriate that others on here would bash this cop given what’s reported above.

        1. I have to say there are quite a few positive comments over there.

      3. de-powered from any meaningful position of authority

        I think this line says all that we need to know.

        1. Yes, I’d say it’s the take-home point.

      4. We took an oath, and we are going to do our job whether you like it or not. If we were depending upon the thanks of citizens like you, we would be working jobs with better hours, more pay, and better supervisors. If you don’t feel you can carry this burden to pick up a rifle and stand a post, you may want to get out of the line of fire, or ease your way to retirement, or put in for another promotion that keeps you away from the front lines.

        Because they need good men to stand against the non-cop citizens who stand up for their freedom.

        In the 5 pages I have read, did anyone ever think that if activity such as this fine citizen was engaged in is ignored, not only is she hindering law enforcement, she is possibly aiding and abetting drug traffickers, gun smugglers, wanted fugitives, perverts that have kidnapped a young child or the thug that just killed your loved one, or are you cop haters just pigeonholed into thinking “inside the box”, with the small neurons that you call brains.

        This woman is as bad as 10 Hitlers. Duh.

        1. she is possibly aiding and abetting drug traffickers, gun smugglers, wanted fugitives, perverts that have kidnapped a young child or the thug that just killed your loved one, or are you cop haters just pigeonholed into thinking “inside the box”, with the small neurons that you call brains

          Let’s ignore that Texas law specifically allows her to warn traffic. What force can the law have against hypotheticals of possible harm to the children?

        2. Nobody argues with the duty of police officers to do their job. Guess what? I have the same problems at my work. I sometimes have to work on my days off, have bosses who are sometimes unreasonable. I doubt very much that I’ll be “easing” into retirement because unlike you, I don’t have a defined retirement plan. No one doubts that police have tough jobs and do put their life on the line but your diatribe is insulting to the folks that pay your salary. If you find your job too burdensome, then find another. We as citizens allow our elected officials too much freedom. This bleeds down. Why do we allow our constabulary to use unmarked vehicles? There is no other reason other than to help in revenue generation. I have read about far too many incidents of police going off on citizens who prudently did not pull over immediately and took the advice that police often give when flashed by an unmarked car, that is acknowledge the officer, butdon’t pull over until you are in a safe area. That’s BS. Since police are sworn to uphold the law, it seems to me that all that this woman was doing was exercising her right to free speech. You try to conflate this into her possibly allowing criminals to walk. Was this a speed trap? If so, then if a wanted fugitive was obeying the speed limit, would you have probable cause to pull them over anyway? No – the only reason that this woman was harrassed was that she was interfering with revenue generation, plain and simple.

          1. “No one doubts that police have tough jobs and do put their life on the line”

            False. I doubt that most police ever put their life on the line or have tough jobs. They might *feel* that way, but it’s just not true. At the slightest tinge of danger they are armored up with guns drawn. The stress associated with police work is largely self-inflicted.

            1. Thom, I agree with you somewhat… It is true that not every policeman is in harm’s way at all times but the potential is certainly there.

      5. awwwww sad pig has a sad pig face.

      6. You are correct that there is a war against law enforcement in this country.

        Yes there is, and it’s being perpetrated by government obedience agents like Joe Hoffman. Any genuine law enforcement officers get hounded out of their jobs by ‘roid raging assholes who think a police department is their goddamned fraternity.

        -jcr

        1. At the risk of being a kiss a55, your response there is absolutely perfect.

      7. de-powered from any meaningful position of authority.

        Uh huh.

    2. I’ve seen a few references here @ reason to PoliceOne but never went over there. I thought I was at least a little clued in to the cop vs citizens mentality but Good God. B/c the mouthpieces that talk to the press always at least pretend to have a real issue, I guess I was shocked so many cops were so brazen about it. I wonder what many of those cops think cops of a ‘real police state’ would talk like? We’re talking about freaking speeding for God’s sake – and many of them are acting like someone just threw some grenades at them. No wonder so many innocent people (and their pets) get killed and beaten up all the time. More shocked they’re so open about it than anything – but that alone removes any doubt I’ve had. Just Yuck.

    3. Jeez, they make it sound like everybody hates them even though they bring light to the world.

      More reason for cities to adopt term limits for police jobs.

  3. Obstruction of justice? I assume the claim is that she is aiding lawbreakers and therefore the police are unable to exact justice, but it’s not like she is stopping the officers from pulling anyone over. She is getting people to obey the law. What a monster.

    1. From Bosconc:
      “….did anyone ever think that if activity such as this fine citizen was engaged in is ignored, not only is she hindering law enforcement, she is possibly aiding and abetting drug traffickers, gun smugglers, wanted fugitives, perverts that have kidnapped a young child or the thug that just killed your loved one, or are you cop haters just pigeonholed into thinking “inside the box”, with the small neurons that you call brains. ”

      So there we have it. You warn people about speed traps and you are an accessory to murder or child molesting.

      1. They just get themselves all wound up, don’t they, like a pack of snarling Rumplestiltskins.

      2. Oh, well that makes sense. I tend to follow the posted speed limits until after I load 10 kilos of blow and a dead hooker into the truck, then it’s cannonball run time.

    2. The real crime is that she’s preventing the city from using speed limits for their intended purpose; delicious, yummy revenue.

      1. That and pretense to get around the 4th.

    3. Exactly. Imagine she sensed somebody was going to rob a convenience store and she asked them not to do. Would she be obstructing justice then? It’s the same thing.

      You can’t arrest somebody for a crime they haven’t committed, but the police essentially arrested this woman for preventing people from committing crimes.

  4. About two weeks ago, Natalie Plummer was riding her bike home from the grocery store when she noticed Houston police officers pulling over alleged speeders.

    There’s a reason they call it “news” and not “olds”, Melanie

  5. I could’ve sworn I read something that said it was legal to do what she did. Here in Florida, I’ve seen billboards saying the same thing in front of notorious speed-trap towns.

    Also, isn’t there some right here? Freedom of screech? No, that’s not it.

    1. It is. They busted her for “obstructing a roadway”. Note the sidewalk.

      1. That seems like a. . .pretext.

          1. Knowing Houston cops as I do, I’d put money on her being on the sidewalk.

        1. Sort of post-text, in this case.

      2. Yeah, the Nazgul got one right recently by upholding the legality of flashing headlights to warn of speed traps. I would assume that would apply here, as well.

        Once the cops realize that, it becomes Obstructing A Roadway.

        1. Texas law already specifically made this legal.

    2. Freedom of screech?

      There is no freedom of screech, only the freedom of Belding.

    3. You’re probably remembering the story (also in FL!) about the young guy who hopped in his car and flashed his lights to warn about cops ahead. It was here on Reason.

      1. “Florida judge rules flashing lights for speed trap warning is covered under free speech”

        Florida judge rules flashing lights for speed trap warning is covered under free speech

      2. That’s it. Florida, home of the free.

          1. Such as people who talk to themselves on the Internets.

    4. I could’ve sworn I read something that said it was legal to do what she did.

      Yeah, that rings a bell…

      Oh, wait: I found it. The first amendment to the US constitution.

      -jcr

  6. “It is an arrestable offense,”
    Apparently everything is.

    1. Well, it was the officer’s decision, see?

    2. There are a limited number of arrestable offenses, but they cover all possible situations.

  7. well, it proves that the purpose of radar and such is to make money, not improve safety. If the young lady’s sign caused people to slow down, the cops should be cool with it. She should make more signs and promote how many lives she has saved (some number pulled out of her ass like the president does).

  8. Next step is to do the same thing with a sign that says something like “Slow down!” or “Please drive carefully on this street!”

    1. I brought up this story on another board, and some cop fellator said that “Slow down” was OK, but “Speed Trap” was just stupid.

      I also suggested the police have gotten away from Robert Peel’s principles of policing and that this is a bad thing for society. You should see the vitriol that engendered.

      1. What about “Blue light special ahead”.

        Or “Slow down. Wink Wink.”

        or “Speed limit enforced by RADAR”

  9. So… warning people there’s a speed trap ahead, makes people slow down, which should – in theory – make the roads safer.

    But… in so doing, the person alerting the drivers is depriving the town of easy cash and brownie points for the cops come bonus and promotion times.

    The second part is, of course, more important to the cops than the first, obviously.

    Welcome to The Fuck You, That’s Why State.

    1. Do you feel the same way about warning terrorists when the FBI catches on to one of their secret plans?

      Since they will then ditch the current plot, by your logic, you have made things safer. Right?

      The wrinkle is this: if people know where the speed enforcers are, they know where the speed enforcers aren’t. It’s the latter problem that threatens road safety.

      1. any ‘warning’ comes from the media, which falls all over itself to reveal any sort of intel/military tactic that may ruffle the feathers of 5th Ave Cotillion. Regardless, it is quite a stretch to compare speeding with terrorism and cops are proving themselves to unworthy of support.

      2. Of course only Republicans can’t see the difference between speeding and terrorism.

        1. Of course only libertarians can’t understand the concept of an analogy.

          Yes, speeding and terrorism are different things. The difference is irrelevant to this question, though; the question is whether warning people about law enforcement activity so that they don’t engage in the lawbreaking makes things safer.

          1. No, the real question is “why should anyone be arrested for encouraging people to NOT commit crimes?”.

          2. “If people know where the speed enforcers are, they know where the speed enforcers aren’t”. You’re right, Tulpa. This girl’s one sign definitely gave speeders an indication of where the speed enforcers aren’t, as Houston only runs one speed trap.

            Feel free to keep engaging in logical fallacies.

      3. The wrinkle is this: if people know where the speed enforcers are, they know where the speed enforcers aren’t. It’s the latter problem that threatens road safety.

        Logical fallacy. If you know where the speed traps are, then you know where the speed traps are. Nothing has informed you as to where they’re not.

        For instance, two weeks ago we knew there was a speed trap on this houston road, but it said nothing about Northbound 509 just up the hill from the South Park exit, or I5 southbound through Fife just north of Tacoma, or I90 east of Ellensburg. Were there no speed traps there?

        1. Plus you would have to know the quantity of the set of police officers engaged in speed traps. If that is one, then sure you know where cops are not. If greater than one then the others could still be anywhere.

        2. Damn it, Paul.! You beat me to it.

      4. good god. really?

      5. Not really. Warning people of the speed trap has the same effect as the speed trap itself. It slows people down. The warning must necessarily be in the vicinity of the speed trap, so it has no impact on drivers in other areas. If someone was out there holding a sign saying “No speed trap here. Go nuts.” then you might have a point.

      6. Your question here is idiotic.

        See a terrorist isn’t a terrorist until after he carries out his plot, at worst be is guilty of conspiracy to commit terror at that point, however conspiracy should not be illegal because no ones rights have been infringed.

        Trying to argue that a conspiracy is the exact same thing as actually committing the act puts you in the exact same loophole explored in Minority Report because some of the terrorists could for whatever reason decide to back out of the plan.

        Now does taking conspiracy off the table as a crime tie law enforcements hands and make the world slightly less safe? Sure. But it also makes it significantly more free and I do seem to recall a wise man once saying something about trading security for freedom.

      7. Not the same thing, Tulpa. Speeding =/= terrorism.

        Unless one thinks like a leftist.

      8. Disingenuous asshole is disingenuous!

      9. if people know where the speed enforcers are, they know where the speed enforcers aren’t

        Yup, because Houston has exactly one cop, and if they hire more, they all have to stand in the same location and move together like a superglued pack of geese.

  10. “It is an arrestable offense,” the Houston PD spokesperson told KPLCtv. “It was the officer’s decision to arrest her.”

    This is the new democracy. We defer to Congress and the police on what’s constitutional.

  11. This happened a couple blocks from me. Woulda waved thanks to her had I’d been there.

    1. And the grocery store she was biking from was almost assuredly Whole Foods but I guess that isn’t surprising from the picture.

  12. It’s these kinds of stories that make me embarrassed to admit I’m an ex-cop. C’mon my blue brothers, wouldn’t it make more sense to stand pat, ignore the young lady, then say to speeders, “Didn’t you see the lady warning of a speed trap? I have to write a ticket now because, well, you’re stupid.”

    1. As an ex-cop, have you ever heard of someone getting arrested for walking in the roadway where a sidewalk is provided?

      1. I can imagine either: 1: writing a citation (in an extreme violation); or 2: ignoring the fact she was a foot or two off the curb. I cannot imagine arresting her and transporting her to a facility…unless she was a nutbag.

        1. There’s a law against being a nutbag?

          1. Never know…could be bath saltz. Don’t want some nutbag chowing down on a civilian or God forbid a Brother in Blue.

          2. Maybe by “extreme violation” he means “standing in the middle of the street”? And by “being a nutbag” he means “slapping at cars as they pass by”?

            In other words, yes, there are laws against certain types of nutbaggery.

  13. Walking on a roadway where sidewalks are provided is an arrestable offense. So now even the PR spokesmen are having to make up laws? I can see the bogus charge of failing to follow a lawful order, but do police really feel they don’t even have to give us the slightest bit of courtesy. Tsk Tsk.

    1. I could believe it was a ticketable offense. But arrestable?

  14. I was a cop in SoCal in the late 80s. We used to pull a lot of extra duty in Palm Springs at Spring Break (pre- Sonny Bono). Obstructing a roadway was a common cite-able offense back then. Palm Canyon Drive was packed with cars and (inebriated people). We’d work a four hour, double-time shift “solving” the problem, then, change clothes and become part of the problem. The difference was that the girls we met while we were in uniform knew they were safe to hang out with us (I mean fuck) because we were cops.

    1. If it was safe to hang with cops, it must have been a very long time ago.

      1. I think he means safe from other cops.

    2. Sweet – when I went to Palm Springs during Spring Break (’90 maybe?) we got harrassed by police because we were cruising along Palm Canyon Drive and probably not sitting properly in our seats. We had a video camera and were filming the encounter until the cops realized the thing was recording. They got all pissy about it. Wasn’t you, was it? 😉

    3. Of course cops are safer. Frat boys will let you just walk off the sidewalk without arresting you.

  15. I was a cop in SoCal in the late 80s. We used to pull a lot of extra duty in Palm Springs at Spring Break (pre- Sonny Bono). Obstructing a roadway was a common cite-able offense back then. Palm Canyon Drive was packed with cars and (inebriated people). We’d work a four hour, double-time shift “solving” the problem, then, change clothes and become part of the problem. The difference was that the girls we met while we were in uniform knew they were safe to hang out with us (I mean fuck) because we were cops.

    1. The difference was that the girls we met while we were in uniform knew they were safe to hang out with us (I mean fuck) because we were cops.

      Uhm.

    2. “The difference was that the girls we met while we were in uniform knew they were safe to hang out with us (I mean fuck) because we were cops.”

      That really doesn’t make any sense. Why would you even think that it does? Cops never hit women? Never rape women? Never have HIV or Hepatitis? Never abuse their police power for personal vendettas?

      1. I think the answer is that any woman who’s stupid enough to fuck a cop moments after meeting them isn’t really thinking about these questions.

        I’m glad that jbold1 is giving us some insight into the tough problems that these cops face. I don’t know how I’d hold up to the pressure of women wanting to have sex with me. I probably need riot gear to deal with it.

  16. Trapster: Speed Trap Sharing System http://trapster.com/

    Works pretty well.

  17. It would help if they had actually arrested her for walking on the street. Since they didn’t we pretty much know it was for disrespecting authoritay.

  18. Is that a paper bag that she is holding up? Jesus, here in SF that is a citable offense to go shopping without a reusable, Eco friendly, fair trade, natural, organic cotton bag.

    1. Cotton is for racists! Decent people always use hemp, or wool from free-range sheep!

      -jcr

      1. Only if the wool is hand-sheared. Machines scare our animal sisters.

    2. Why are you still in that shithole known as San Francisco? I mean, the Bay Area’s bad enough, but San Francisco? You only need to move a few minutes south and things are much more sane.

  19. If drivers know where the speed limit is being enforced, they also know where it’s not being enforced. That’s the problem.

    1. Because this woman and speedsters are everywhere and know the happenings on all streets? Because people who speed drive around looking for streets without cops so they can go wild? Please tell me you are not seriously trying to defend this cop’s actions, because even for statist boilerplate it’s pretty stupid.

      1. Please tell me you are not seriously trying to defend this cop’s actions, because even for statist boilerplate it’s pretty stupid.

        It’s Tulpa, so… yes he is.

        Tulpa has never had a negative experience with the cops.

        Those of us who have are a little more fuzzy on a cops claims, assertions and brutish behavior.

    2. Logical fallacy. If you know where the speed limit is being enforced, then you know where the speed limit is being enforced. You have no information on where it’s not being enforced, except by generalities and assumptions.

    3. Only if the set of police cruisers is 1. You failed math didn’t you?

    4. Back on the meds, Tulpa. Your disingenuous asshole side is showing again.

  20. [The cop] jumped out of the car and grabbed on to her backpack.

    I calling exaggeration on this. The cop (a government employee) “jumped” out the car and “grabbed” on to her backpack. OK, but only if he caught the scent of smelled freshly baked donuts emanating from the backpack.

  21. I’d totally hit that.

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