By Author(s): Scott Cook 
Published Thursday, February 9, 2012
One of my friends got a speeding ticket recently. He obviously wasn't thrilled, but what struck me was a complaint he made about “professional courtesy.” My friend is a firefighter in his town, and the rear window of his truck sports his fire department affiliation and the requisite Texas EMT sticker. His complaint: He couldn’t believe that a police officer —a fellow public safety professional and someone whose emergency my buddy may respond to—would write him a ticket: “He should’ve given me a warning out of professional courtesy,” he insisted.
So my buddy—let’s call him “Ace” —basically expects that the officer will not do his job out of an unearned courtesy for Ace and the job he does.
I asked Ace why he was speeding in the first place, obligating the police officer to pull him over His response: “I didn’t see the cop.”
Following that comment, our conversation proceeded as follows.
“So Ace,” I inquired, “what you’re saying is that you can’t be trusted to do the right thing if you don’t foresee any negative consequences as the result of your actions?”
He replied, “No, I was late for work.” (As usual.)
“So you expect police officers to pay you professional courtesies based on the job you do when you can’t even be bothered to show up to the job on time?” I queried.
We continued debating the topic until finally, a coworker explained to him that he can’t win this argument and should just pay the ticket.
It's an interesting dynamic, and this isn’t the first time I’ve heard something like this. Some firefighters amongst us expect (and some even demand) to be treated differently because of what we choose to do for a living. We want to get out of a ticket, have reduced price or free meals at restaurants, get into movies or bars at no charge, etc.
But expecting (or demanding) this treatment is not professional in any way, whether you’re a career firefighter, a volunteer firefighter or a cop. There’s simply no reason you should expect this treatment.
At some point in your life, you probably heard from your parents, preacher, mentor, or whoever had a positive influence in your life, “If you want respect, you have to earn it.” It’s the same with courtesy: If you want professional courtesy, then give it.
Don’t speed through a community, do a “rolling stop” at stop signs, and put police officers in positions where they have to decide whether they’re going to write you a ticket. When you do these things, you make the decision to make the officer stop doing whatever they are doing, stop you, run your plates, deal with your “what about professional courtesy?” attitude, run your driver’s license, listen to your BS about why you broke the law in their town, make them get out of their car in the rain/sleet/snow/heat (not to mention risking getting struck by another vehicle), just to have you drop a badge on them in hopes of getting out of a well-deserved ticket.
You are the one who made the decision to break the law, and now you have to suffer the consequences. The ticket you receive, by the way, is a ticket you’re basically daring the officer to write you by knowingly violating the laws of the community. How professionally courteous is that?
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