Cop Vs. Cop in South Florida



We all know about playing cops and robbers.  How many of us know about cops versus firemen or cops versus cops?

Last week, when a FHP officer arrested a City of Miami cop for Reckless Driving, the public got a taste of what I have known my whole life– sometimes cops fight with cops and “professional courtesy” is sometimes a cover-up for special privileges.  I say my whole life because my father was a Detective in the NYPD and I have been a criminal defense lawyer for the last thirty years.

Let me start out by saying FHP Trooper Donna Watts is the “good guy” in this whole thing.

It was 6:30 a. m. and still dark when she observed a police vehicle doing 120 mph, weaving in and out of traffic without overhead lights on.  So she put on her lights looking for it to stop.  For a number of minutes he continued to ignore her.

Without stopping the vehicle there was no way for her to know what was going on.

Was the car stolen leaving a cop bleeding out on the side of the road?

Was the driver drunk?

Was he on an emergency call but his lights were not functioning? Would he need backup?

Why was he not responding to her lights and sirens?

At some point she may or may not been told to back off but declined that invitation.

These and a hundred other explanations were possible.

Rushing At 120 mph to Second Job

It turned out that the driver was a self important, arrogant jerk who was late to an off-duty assignment where he makes extra $$$$.

For $15 bucks-an-hour he was risking two cops and an entire highway of civilians.

“Late to work”?  It’s an excuse that has been fruitlessly offered to traffic cops since the first Model T.

When he finally pulled over he still would not respond to commands. Trooper Watts drew her gun and repeated the command.

The driver of the patrol car was Miami Police Off. Fausto Lopez.  If the driver was a civilian he would have been looking at a life changing set of charges.

Speeding over 50 mph has a mandatory $1000 fine and probably a Drivers License suspension.  Add to this are misdemeanors of Reckless Driving and Resisting without Violence. Topping it off is the felony of Fleeing- and-Eluding which carries a mandatory adjudication making you a convicted felon for life.

Imagine if she had backed off and there was an accident which resulted in a death or injury?

Under that scenario all those attacking her on blogs would be singing a different song…Oh, Danny Boy…while Lopez was being carried out by six.

Under the euphemism of “professional courtesy” cops often cut each other slack.

This was over the line as is the vitriol against Watts that has appeared on cop blogs.  We have to ask ourselves how much of this is trooper versus cop and how much is it the idea that Lopez was arrested by a woman?

Donna Watts followed the rules and for this she is being hung out to dry.

It makes you wonder about the culture within law enforcement.

15 Responses to “Cop Vs. Cop in South Florida”

  1. Elroy John says:

    I wonder if there’d be as much backlash if Trooper Watts was male.

  2. Duke says:

    When I was a kid, my uncle Robert was a Hollywood, Florida police officer. He retired after 26 years, then went to work for BSO. He lived across the street from us, and in all the years I knew him, he never had use of a police car while off duty. He drove his own car to work and back home. At what point did becoming a police officer mean that one gets use of a company car while off duty? Why are local police agencies allowing officers to take cars home? This is costing a lot of money. The public is paying for twice as many police cars as we need. What about the maintenance on these cars? Who is covering the insurance if an officer is involved in a wreck while off duty? I live in Wellington and my brother lives in Royal Palm Beach. We both have neighbors who work for BSO in central or south Broward County and Davie PD, and they take their cars home and cruise around Palm Beach County in them all weekend. They go to Publix, Home Depot, etc. We’re talking about these guys putting over 25K miles a year on police cruisers for non related police activity. Lets go back to the day when a police officer drove his or her own car to work, got in a police cruiser to patrol their beat, then got in their own car to go back home. That way, more than one officer can use the same cruiser while on duty, and the taxpayers can save a bundle. Giving police officers who work in Broward but live in Palm Beach county free use of a company car at taxpayer’s expense is stupid policy and it needs to be changed. Stop caving to ridiculous union demands and be financially responsible to the people picking up the tab.

  3. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    This is a no-brainer. Of course the female trooper etc. was totally correct in pulling the cop going what over 100 in a 55-please. Good job. Th ecop who was speeding in his patrol car dangered lifes, etc, should not only be ticketed, should be suspended.What were you thinking???

  4. Sam the Sham says:

    The Miami cop was wrong for speeding, but the FHP Trooper was wrong in not disengaging the pursuit when told to. Not only that, but she knew it was a cop and pulling her weapon was in your face overkill. Most cops either give the other cop a professional courtesy or call their supervisor to make the final decision. Don’t get me wrong, the Miami cop was wrong, but the Trooper’s attitude was she was mad because he didn’t “respect her authority”. Sort of like a small man overcompensating.

    Making cops drive to work will save a few bucks but not as much as you think. Units used around the clock will wear out much faster, so you have to purchase new vehicles more often. There is also an intangible benefit by having a police car in your neighborhood. It does deter crime when the car is seen more often.

    Still, I remember a rule that BSO(?) were not allowed to take their vehicle home outside the county, but instead, had to park it at a fire station or some other public facility that was close to the county line. They had to drive their own vehicle home from there.

  5. NCog55 says:

    She did the right thing by pulling him over and arresting him. Fausto Lopez, what can you say? Jerk!

  6. ExCompassionate Conservative says:

    My taxes pay Officer Donna Watts to pull over maniacs on the highway before they kill someone.

    My taxes do not pay Officer Fausto Lopez to drive 120 mph in a tax payer paid for and insured police vehicle. The good citizens of Miami would have been facing incredible legal bills and settlements if there was a death due to this nonsense.

    Is it me Sam or do things like this seem to come in waves where we have a few good years of great police work and then the arrogance of some officers and their superiors erupts in a wave of criminal and civil shocks ? I wonder if the praise given to the police gives some officers a sense of invincibility and delusions that they are entitled to be above the law they swear to uphold.

  7. Duke says:

    A police officer working at the Ft. Lauderdale airport who lives in Loxahatchee should not be permitted to take his vehicle home every day. That’s a 100 mile round trip which is 500 miles a week. No way that car racks up 500 miles a week if it stays at the airport. It’s a total waste of taxpayer money. Since when do patrol cops get a company car?

  8. Loxahatchee said says:

    Mr. Officer Sam the Sham
    I was born and raised in Broward and after 48 years I decided to move. I make the 72 mile (one way) drive from Loxahatchee every day. I follow Cops from BSO, Coconut Creek Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale and Miami every morning. (and nun doing the speed limit) I know how much it costs my family every week just so I can go to work. . No one made me move in Loxahatchee, I chose to live there and I have to bare the expense for that choice but the tax payers of Broward are forced into paying for their choices. “Making cops drive to work will save a few bucks but not as much as you think. Units used around the clock will wear out much faster, so you have to purchase new vehicles more often”. Please don’t tell me that the amount of cars bought each year would not be reduced by at least 1/3rd. At $30k a pop per vehicle and with their supper charged engines at $4.50 a gallon, please don’t try to convince me that’s beneficial to the hard working people of Broward.
    It is outrages how many Broward Cops live in my neighborhood. Your statement “There is also an intangible benefit by having a police car in your neighborhood. It does deter crime when the car is seen more often”. Not when the car is 75 miles away from their jurisdiction while at Publix with their families they are looked at as a joke.
    I have never broken the law except for a few speeding tickets and I can honestly say I have never been helped in anyway by a Cop. The only time I asked for help is when my house was broken into, even then I was questioned and told that I did not make enough effort to secure my house and the break in was my fault. . I don’t need you I a can take care of what’s mine.
    How do you expect to earn respect from the people who pay your salary when you show no respect to the people you are supposed to protect and serve? You are arrogant, self-absorbed, and care about no one and protect only the ones in your blue click. Amazing how many Cops have been charged of crimes in just the past few months alone. Respect my ass your all crooks one way or the other.

  9. Sam the Sham says:

    Mr. Loxahatchee,

    I am not a Law Enforcement officer and never said I was, but thank you for the compliment.

    I won’t get into the numbers with you but the patrol vehicles will wear out twice as fast if they are driven around the clock. Further, gas cost me $3.36 today not $4.50 but BSO buys their gas wholesale so it is a lot cheaper than that. Lastly, and what most don’t realize is that BSO deputies that get a take home car are paid less than deputies that don’t take their car home. Some deputies, like those at the airport and courthouse don’t need a patrol car and get paid a differential for not taking it home.

    It is kind of funny how the longer you write, the angrier you get. It is no surprise to me that a cop did not show you any respect (at your home burglary) because you have no respect for them. My bet is you have boat loads of traffic tickets. By the way, BSO does not have a “blue click” (spelling), their uniform is green.

  10. Duke says:

    The reason cops take cars home is because their union makes it part of the compensation package, and the police agencies cave to those demands. Let cops start driving their own vehicles to work like the rest of us do. Or let em take tri-rail. If you are the sheriff you are probably worthy of a company car. Patrol officers are not. Take a drive on the turnpike any morning or any afternoon and see for yourself how many officers are driving police cruisers home and back. All of em speeding too. Work in Davie, Pembroke Pines, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and live in Wellington or Loxahatchee and get to take a cruiser home? Are you kidding me? Stop ripping off taxpayers.

  11. Cops Not Special says:

    I agree with Duke that the benefit of officers taking home their vehicles is ridiculous unless they are required to live in the jurisdiction they police. I too have seen numerous abuses, such as an officer using a BSO patrol car in Palm Beach County to go to Toys R Us with his kids.
    It is time that police employees get the same benefits as the rest of us, including take home cars, pension and retirement age. To start paying a cop a pension while in his 40s is wrong. The rest of us can’t afford these gold plated contracts anymore.

  12. Liz says:

    Act like adults everyone, this is no way to an example to our kids and yes I do still believe the Police is to be respected.

  13. joe tomaso says:

    spot on my friend

  14. No Bull says:

    Cops, firemen, teachers, auto workers, brain surgeons, and yes even lawyers get paid based on what the free market of this great country will bear.

    What to take away pensions and pay teachers the $8 / hr you are making at McDonalds? Will this take away some of your anger and bitterness?

    Well guess what angry guy, not everybody can cut it as a teacher, or a cop, or a brain surgeon. These professions take hard training and a certain set of skills that not everybody has. If you want to make a better living for yourself and your family get off the couch, stop complaining, get educated, and make it happen.

    Its all about supply and demand, and a few short years ago law enforcment agencies in this area couldn’t get nearly enough qualified applicants and therefore pay and benefits grew to attract quality people. That is what you want, right? Better quality public service professionals? You get what you pay for in this great country of ours.

  15. Deputy Georgensen says:

    Hopefully the trooper nevers needs emergency assistance from another local cop. She is a disgrace to all that walk the beat. Once she saw he was in uniform she should of put her gun away. What was the reason for taking him into custody. Thats a rookie move.