A motorist pulled over a Miami-Dade police officer for allegedly speeding on the Dolphin Expressway this week. She recorded their exchange with her cellphone and posted the video to YouTube, where it quickly went viral. As part of Community Conversations, we’re sharing your answers to this question: Did she do the right thing?
We asked that question to readers on social media and the Public Insight Network recently. Thanks for all of your responses. Below is a sampling of your comments, some of which were edited for length and clarity. Learn more about the Public Insight Network and comment on previous discussions at MiamiHerald.com/community and select Community Conversations.
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Yes. It takes courage in our day and age to point out something illegal a police officer is doing. When you can get arrested for resisting arrest without any other criminal behavior involved, most people just sit quietly while those charged with protecting us act like teenagers.
Prem Barbosa, Miami-Dade
Yes. Many police think they are above the law, and speeding can be dangerous. The downside is that the police can be vindictive. That person was very brave or very upset.
Brian Gerber, Miami Beach
Absolutely! She had guts. Laws apply to everyone including cops. I don’t think I would have had the guts to do it.
Alfred Sasiadek, Miami
She did, because of the way it turned out, but it could have gone badly. Hooray that it didn’t. A lot of cops, for all their otherwise splendid virtues, drive like that. It’s good that someone called one of them out for his episode of bad driving, and it’s good that he responded just the way he should have. For that reason, the woman shouldn’t have followed it up with a formal complaint. Her point was already well made. I think I would enjoy knowing Officer Dan Fonticiella as a friend, and I’m glad he’s in my police department.
Arnold Markowitz, Miami Shores
She sure did! When was the last time you saw a police car parked in a designated parking spot, or an officer obey the speed limit or use a turn signal? I’ve always believed that you have to lead by example and seldom see it day to day in our police force. I recognize that without that “thin blue line” society would break down quickly, but I do believe that our police would be much more effective and get much more respect if they lived by the rules that bind us all.
Roger King, Miami Shores
Yes. It is time we stop putting up with the arrogance, arbitrary behavior and abuse by cops. She was lucky she didn’t get shot or Tasered. Had she been black, she’d be dead.
Marcelo Salup, Coral Gables
No. The driver could not have known if the policeman had an emergency. She could have taken a video to show the police or called in a complaint.
Helene Dudley, Miami
No. She should have gone through the right procedures. She herself admitted to speeding. She could have just voiced her concern on social media with the intention of spreading the officer’s inappropriate behavior.
Sergio Serrano, Miami
No, by chasing the officer at a high speed she also became a safety threat to other drivers. She should have made note of his tag or vehicle number and reported him. They were both in the wrong, but the officer is better trained and experienced at driving at a high speed.
Don Allen, Miami
No, she didn’t. If you take issue with the way a first responder is driving or behaving, take a photo of the tag and report the offense to the authorities. For all she knew the officer could have been responding to an urgent situation on silent call — no flashers or siren — and she could have interfered with his ability to help in a legitimate crisis.
Glenn Osrin, West Kendall
I don’t think so. What she did, while probably legal, was also foolishly dangerous. Cops and stranded motorists too often get struck by passing vehicles.
Robert Black, Miami
It is not that simple. Certainly we should hold police accountable and we have every right as citizens to do so. However, I would not encourage this behavior with this testosterone-charged department. You could be detained and even injured.
David Hart, Miami Beach
No. The driver did a very stupid, dangerous and unnecessary act. She created a dangerous situation when she didn’t know the motives or intentions of the police officer. She took his time when he could have been on a mission. Leave the police alone to do their jobs.
Arthur Carson, Miramar
No, the driver should haven taken the patrol car number and reported it to the appropriate agency. However, police should follow the same rules of road as everyone else. I’ve observed police speeding, not using turn signals and improper lane changes. It’s a public safety issue.
James Yearwood, Cutler Bay
No, she made herself dangerous. He may have been speeding, but it may have been for official reasons. He is also a trained driver, and she is a person who happens to have a long history of driving infractions. If anything, she should have used her cell phone to call police and report him. She has no business trying to speed up to catch him. It was not her job.
Leonard Feinman, Hialeah
If she felt she had to, writing the tag and or car number down and calling it in would have been sufficient. She placed herself and others in danger by speeding to catch up with the officer. He could have been on a call of which she had no knowledge. She was reckless.
Carlos Naya, Miami
No, too great a risk of being shot. I would have noted the unit number and reported the matter to the watch commander. Fort Lauderdale police cars have GPS trackers, and officers have been disciplined for speeding. (They should be ticketed, too, in my opinion.)
Gaylord Wood, Fort Lauderdale
Probably not. Chasing after a speeding vehicle means that she was also speeding. The proper thing to do was to call and report the vehicle and location and let the police witness and deal with it. Documenting it on her cellphone was a good thing, but two cars speeding down the Dolphin is just asking for trouble.
I see many police cruisers flying past me with no lights or sirens. Maybe it’s time to install speed monitors in the cruisers with time stamps and GPS. But chasing down a speeding cop car was very risky. This woman was lucky she wasn’t following a rogue cop or her video would have had a completely different ending.
Charles Peters, Miami
No. The reality is everybody speeds in South Florida and probably elsewhere. It’s one thing if you’re speeding because the roads are empty and clear, and it’s another when you’re recklessly driving that speed weaving in and out of traffic. It sounds like the officer was driving 90 mph because roads were mostly clear, and it sounds like this driver began driving that speed or near it to chase him, get behind him, and flash her lights/honk for attention. He pulls over thinking this driver may have an emergency situation, only for her to shame him via the Internet? For likes, views, shares, etc?! No one is above the law, but this is just a ridiculous stunt.
Kristin Brent, Brickell
Morally, yes. Practically, no. Once she exceeded the speed limit herself in order to “apprehend” the officer, she crossed the line into “no she shouldn’t” territory. If she had simply caught up to him at the next traffic light instead of chasing him down, she’d have had a more righteous position. The officer in question was a complete gentleman (as much as one CAN be) under the circumstances and made a convincing show of taking the woman seriously. I would like to know if BOTH of their previous driving records are completely clean. HAH!
Eric Moss, Miami
Yes and no. Yes when she videoed the unlawful speed of the patrol car, but no when she probably drove unlawful speeds herself to pursue and pull the officer over.
Lionel Lightbourne, Liberty City