Unprofessional treatment

Published 11:09 am Monday, September 18, 2017

To the Editor:

I should have heeded the warning, but I never thought it would actually happen.

Last Friday (Sept. 8), I dropped my kids off at Gatesville Elementary School. As typical, I was buckled up for the ride to school and so were my kids.

Upon getting ready to pull off from my parking space, I noticed how low my gas hand was, and just then the dreaded “low fuel” light popped on. I was so worried about not having enough gas to make it to the station that I forgot about putting on my seat belt.

When it came my turn to exit the school parking lot and onto Main Street, it hit me that I didn’t forgot to buckle up With one hand on the steering wheel I used the other trying to pull the strap in place.

Oops….too late. I saw blue lights behind me. I pulled over, as did a female driver ahead of me.

Looking in my rear view mirror, I saw Sheriff Randy Hathaway exit his vehicle. I rolled down both front windows and placed both hands on the steering wheel….a textbook response if you are pulled over by the police.

He went to first car, politely asking (I could hear what he said and the tone of his voice because I had lowered my windows) for her license and registration. He walks back to his vehicle, and then comes to my vehicle. In an unprofessional voice, he asks for my license and registration. As I handed it to him he roughly removed it from my hand, and asks: “why the ‘h’ wasn’t I wearing my seat belt.” I was respectful, saying I was wrong and I was sorry.

I was able to find out that the other driver was also not buckled up.

He accused me of being under the influence. That accusation floored me, but told him I wasn’t under the influence, rather I had a very bad cold that made me look terrible and unable to breathe well. He walked away.

A very short time later, a county deputy arrived, followed by another in an SUV. I’m thinking to myself he’s calling back-up for a seat belt violation? I weigh 100 pounds and he needs to call back-up? Seriously?

Then the other driver exited her vehicle, went to the back seat and appeared to be moving some items around. That’s a big red flag at a traffic stop as the officer does not know if you’re reaching for a weapon. About one minute later, the first deputy to arrive walks up to her and says, “mam, please get back in your vehicle.”

She returned to the driver’s seat.

That same deputy came to my car with a citation for not wearing a seat belt. The fine is $179. Sheriff Hathaway signed it, but didn’t have the courtesy or professionalism to hand it to me.

The deputy then said I was to leave. I think I was asked to leave because I feel the other driver was only given a warning.

Okay, I know I was in the wrong here, but why didn’t both drivers receive a citation? I know it’s just a citation for not wearing a seat belt, but I’m a single, unemployed mother faced with nearly a $200 fine, but yet only a warning to the other person. Perhaps a verbal or written warning would have been better in this case.

This is wrong, and so is the way I was treated. I feel I was targeted out of spite because I have a family member who is an animal welfare advocate that called the Sheriff about the way that case was handled just recently by his department involving the dead pit bull on Roundtree Lane.

Perhaps I should have heeded the advice of my relative to be on my best behavior because they may have ruffled the Sheriff’s feathers on the dead dog case.

Next time I’ll know better, but $179 poorer.

Amber Davis