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Kentucky Police Speeders

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Emergency Services Vehicles

Kentucky Police Speeders

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
January 4, 2008

As I drove back from South Carolina yesterday, I noticed a particular thing about cops in Kentucky. The speed limits are not for them.

I was nearing London, Kentucky, on I-75, when a Laurel County deputy passed me at a good clip. The speed limit is 70MPH, and he was running about 85-90. It looked like there was a passenger (prisoner?) in the car; maybe he was late for court. I called the Laurel County Sheriff's Department and, when a supervisor called me back, he said they didn't have a Car #1118, which was the number stenciled on the back bumper of the squad car. Was there an imposter on the road? I doubt it.

He and I had a nice conversation, during which he asked me, did I ever speed when I was a deputy in Colorado? I told him that I hadn't and that I believed it to be unfair to write tickets to speeders, if I were guilty of speeding myself; especially knowing that a cop would not write me a ticket if he stopped me. I'm talking about on-duty here. In uniform, in the patrol car, just driving down the road.

A little farther north a Kentucky State Police car (2911) passed me, traveling well over the speed limit. And then Kentucky State Police car 2852 pulled off the inside shoulder to pace a UPS tractor-trailer and me. We were right on the 70MPH speed limit. He must have hit 90+ to catch up with us. Then he paced the truck, pulled ahead and exited at the next ramp. If he got called on his speeding, he'd just say that he suspected speeding by us and was doing his duty. State Police officers have the experience to know when vehicles are traveling at about the speed limit, so he was just having some fun.

And then, at Florence, Kentucky, a local police car (looked like Car 2506) passed me at about 85MPH in the 70MPH zone. Last summer when I was through that same stretch, a Florence PD car had passed me, hightailing it for the town. I called that one in, but not this one. After all, what's a small matter of 15MPH over the speed limit, just because you're driving a squad car?

I believe that the police should be the first to obey traffic laws, not the last. As a matter of principle, officers should drive the speed limit, unless they are using emergency equipment or following a speeder for the purpose to ascertaining his speed. Supervisors expect officers to "hurry along" to calls, in order to lower response times. However, speeding to a call is illegal.

In those rare instances where an officer wants to roll up to a bank robbery or domestic call "silently", then he needs to slow down after he turns off his emergency equipment. Many officers and even chiefs do not agree with me; yet they can find no justification in the traffic laws that allows them to speed. They do it and get away with it; after all, who is going to write a ticket to a cop?

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