Earning the Record
Sent to Officer Eck, MPD, March 22, 2001.

March 22, 2001

Dear Officer Eck,

I am counting on you to remember the night of January 27, 2001 in order for the following letter to make sense to you.

I am the woman who was pulled over for "failing to dim my headlights" and was subsequently arrested by Officer Dubbert in the gas station parking lot on 247 near Dewey Street. I am the woman who tried to get you to exit your vehicle to stand as a witness to the conversation I was about to attempt with Officer Dubbert.

My court date was yesterday, March 21, and I lost the case based on Officer Dubbert's testimony. I was found guilty of disorderly conduct based on his statements to the judge. It's a hundred dollar fine and life goes on.

Why am I contacting you now? Because it's in my blood, it's what I do, as a 38-year old civil rights activist. I have spent my entire life finding the balance, illuminating elements of fairness in all situations, and negotiating compromises to make life more tolerable for people on all sides of an issue. I am compelled to share with you the significance of this incident because you were there; and because the fairness has not yet been achieved in this situation.

This is what got me thrown in jail that night, my attempt to engage Officer Dubbert in a discussion to find the balance in the situation at hand. I was seeking the element of fairness, and I knew it would be a difficult task because Officer Dubbert's ego had already puffed up like a cat when I refused to "guess" why he had pulled me over. This is why I asked you to stand there to witness the situation. Had you not arrived at the scene, I would not have had the confidence to approach him, relying on faith in human decency and his capacity for rational thought to bring the issue of fairness to the surface.

I'm aware you have no knowledge of what occured prior to your arrival on the scene, and all I can hope is that what you witnessed in the short time you were there will lend credence to my statements below. Now, I hope you can recall at least the subject matter of the verbal exchange in which you participated during the incident.

After both of us stood in front of the judge and swore to tell the truth, Officer Dubbert began his remarks with the statement, "I was traveling North on 247 when the defendent came speeding up behind me with her high beams blinding me in my rear view mirror." Think back to that incident, Officer Eck. What was the question I wanted Officer Dubbert to answer? "What law did he break by pulling out in front of me like he did?" And how did Officer Dubbert respond to my question? He ignored it, he did not want to be challenged on his actions. Then I turned to you for the answer, which seemed to inspire him to finally answer the question. He didn't deny the basis of the question by presenting his version of the truth about me speeding up behind him, did he? Whose version of that first few seconds do you think is the correct version? Now, considering his opening statement to the judge, how do you think the rest of his testimony went, or do I even need to discuss the rest of it?

This is the chain of events that led up to the somewhat excited conversation you stood witness to: Officer Dubbert RAN A RED LIGHT from his stopped position at Guy Paine Road, pulled out too close in front of me intentionally, swung around behind me almost immediately and pulled me over. When he approached me in the truck, he told me to look at my dashboard to figure out why I had been pulled over, and he told me to do this not once, but TWICE. After his second attempt to make me guess why I had been pulled over, he finally stated with condescension that my headlights were on high beams. Now here are three acts of provocation on his part that led to the elevated tension in this incident. He ran a red light to turn right from his left-turn lane, pulled out too close into my right of way, tried to make me guess my crime, and treated me like I was an idiot when I refused to play his game.

I want you to know, or at least consider, that this arrest has thus far impacted about 15 people directly. My immediate and extended families have now experienced first hand the element of fairness employed by the Macon Police Department, and I will continue to share my experience with others when the opportunity presents itself.

No this isn't some front page scandal that destroys public faith in our law enforcement agencies. This is a silly little arrest of one nameless little person whose life was in the hands of the system for a mere couple of hours. Officer Eck, this is what destroys faith. This stupid little arrest, insignificant in the minds of people like Officer Dubbert, has a tremendous impact on more than just the silly little insignificant guy, particularly when the insignificant little guy is reminded of his insignificance when a police officer stands in front of a judge and lies to protect his ego.

What do I expect from you, Officer Eck? Absolutely nothing. I'm well aware that your personal loyalties are likely to be stronger to your fellow officers than to the citizenry you're hired to serve. And I'm also fully aware of my insignificance. And I'm also aware of how easy it would be for Officer Dubbert to make my life miserable if he so chooses, just as he's already done. But what I want from you is an attempt to convey this message to Officer Dubbert, let him know how powerful he is. And if he won't listen, then share it with somebody else.

Chris Coggins
Georgia, USA