A traffic cop makes a poor decision and gets hammered in the court of public opinion
Posted by The Oregonian January 16, 2008 06:57AM
Categories: Puget Sound, Southwest Washington

The Longview Daily News has the details. There are about 130 reader responses and counting. Not very many have nice words for the trooper. Here is one of the kinder ones - "Suspend him with no pay. I would get a ticket if I had done that. Are our police above the law? Looks that way."

A Washington State Patrol trooper's creative idea for disguising his unmarked patrol car should have been cleared with superiors, a state patrol official said Monday.

"It's not typically something that is done," Sgt. Randy Hullinger of the Vancouver office said of Trooper Brad Moon's choice to put Oregon plates on his unmarked Dodge Charger patrol car.

The plates, which Moon took off a personal vehicle after he moved to Washington, have been removed from the patrol car, Hullinger said.

"We encourage our troopers to look at innovative ways to catch people," he said. "But it's always good to run innovative ideas past somebody else so we can consider all possible outcomes. He went out on his own. He was attempting to use some initiative to solve a problem, which is our job. But in this case it looks like maybe judgment-wise he should have run it by somebody else."

The Oregon plates were on Moon's patrol car last month when he issued Dave Milbrandt of Vancouver a citation for doing 56 mph in a 35 mph zone between 38th and 40th avenues of Ocean Beach Highway, Longview.

Milbrandt doesn't deny he was speeding, but he complained about Moon's plates in a story that appeared Sunday in the Vancouver Columbian.

He said he confronted Moon, then went to Moon's supervisor.

"It was corrected by his sergeant when it first became apparent what was happening," Hullinger said. He said Moon will not be disciplined.

State law requires that vehicles registered in Washington bear Washington plates.

One of the reasons Moon put the Oregon plates on his car is because a Woodland boy bragged on his MySpace page that he regularly drove 100 mph on the freeway and knew how to spot police to avoid being caught, Hullinger said.

"He was talking about his method for scoping out the road ahead to see who's up there," Hullinger said. The boy wrote that if he saw out-of-state plates, he knew it couldn't be a police car, so he'd hit the gas.