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Blue on blue traffic stop
has colorful language

5/20/2004

by Mark Vasto
Landmark reporter

On April 25, at around 5:15 pm, Parkville police officer Eric Slaiger observed a full-sized pickup truck speeding and following too closely near I-435.

Cognizant that the driver didn’t appear to driving recklessly or violating the laws too severely, the officer decided before even getting out of his patrol car that he would let the driver off with a warning.

It would take all of his restraint to do so.

Walking to the vehicle, the officer offered a friendly “how you doing?” in greeting and asked to see the driver’s license and proof of insurance. The driver responded by informing him that he worked for the Platte County Sheriff’s Department and angrily warned Slaiger off.

“You better have one hell of a good reason for stopping me officer!”

If Slaiger was alarmed, he didn’t show it.

“Yes, sir,” Slaiger informed him. “You were traveling at 65 miles an hour when the speed limit is 55 miles an hour.”

The driver, whom it was later learned to be Captain Randy Pittman, the man charged with running the Platte County Detention Center, disagreed with Slaiger’s assessment.

“Oh-ho-ho-ho-ho,” Pittman half shouted. “Man, that is bull (expletive)! That is a 60-mile an hour speed limit there and that’s exactly what I was traveling!”

The confrontation continued, with Pittman clearly on the offensive.

“This is what you’re gonna do right now, and I want your supervisor on the phone!”

“Ok,” Slaiger responded.

“I have never seen such (expletive) in all my life!”

“Do you want to stay here or would you like to go to my station?” Slaiger asked.

Pittman, the man whose chief responsibility is incarcerating others, seemed incredulous at the question.

“Are you detaining me?”

“I pulled you over, yes sir,” the Parkville officer responded.

“Am I under arrest?” Pittman demanded.

Slaiger informed Pittman that he was not under arrest, and Pittman did, in fact get off with a warning. Pittman was, however, on videotape.

Slaiger’s patrol car – like many police vehicles – is outfitted with a video surveillance system. And on Monday night, thousands in the Kansas City metropolitan area viewed the video, as a Kansas City news broadcast decided to air the videotape and solicit street side opinions on Pittman’s conduct from local residents.

For his part, Parkville Police Chief Bill Hudson called the incident a “non-news story” and that it was his understanding that Pittman had apologized, “which is more than an irate motorist would ever do.”

Hudson said that Slaiger told him that he had decided not to write Pittman a ticket when he got out of the car and that it was not his policy to write tickets for “attitude.” Hudson explained that Pittman’s profanity was not used to call the officer names and that the tirade fell far short of what would be considered “fighting words.”

Platte County Sheriff Richard Anderson said the incident was not an accurate reflection of the department.

“When the matter was first brought to my attention — as you know this incident happened several weeks ago — I recognized immediately that it was unacceptable and inappropriate behavior,” Anderson explained. “At the time it occurred, I spoke to the department and reaffirmed our commitment to professionalism and made that particularly clear to the individual concerned.”

Anderson declined to say what, if any, disciplinary action was taken in the matter, saying that it was simply a “personnel matter.” In addition, Anderson also confirmed that Pittman was an instructor of police ethics for the department.

When reached by The Landmark, Pittman refused to comment on the incident, saying only that it was a personnel matter. Pittman did, however, take umbrage with comments posted on The Landmark “Talkback” web forum by visitors to the site. Ironically, Pittman questioned whether use of a profanity in the particular post was appropriate for the public forum at plattecountylandmark.com.

 
 

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