Ed Edge got an unexpected apology from the Pennsylvania State Highway Patrol after video of one of their officers conducting a traffic stop harassing and threatening Edge went viral. The video, which Edge recorded using car-mounted dash cameras, depicted Patrolman Watkins giving Edge a tongue-lashing, for being rather respectful for all intents and purposes.
Edge uploaded the video to his Facebook page on October 5th, just four days after the October 1st Vegas shooting, which probably limited the number of views of his recording. Nevertheless, the video did go viral, racking up over 2 million views.
The vegan restaurant owner was pulled over by Prl. Watkins and told he was following too closely to the car in front of him. He was asked to produce his license, registration, and insurance, a request which appeared to confuse the Pittsburgh resident. He told Watkins “that might be a hard one,” as he explained he rented the car from an “online company.”
Watkins, seemingly confused by Edge’s accent, asked for clarification. “You’re supposed to have that on you,” the trooper said before asking where Edge was headed. After Edge explained he lives in Philadelphia, that’s when it happened. The officer began an attitude with the motorist, who was apparently complying with all of the trooper’s lawful requests.
“Do you have any type of attitude. What’s going on,” the trooper asked. Edge explained he’d been on a helicopter for 36 hours and shook his head no when asked if he had a problem with the officer.
“So, is that my fault,” the trooper asked as if the motorist was displaying some form of disrespect. Again the officer escalated the encounter. “So, why are you giving me an attitude,” he asked again. “Listen to me. You’re being recorded from back in my car, there’s a mic right here. I have full discretion as to what goes on out here, okay,” he said apparently flexing his legal muscles.
Watkins tone then took on a more threatening manner. “Do you think giving me an attitude, looking at me, eyeballing me is gonna go good for ya, when I have discretion out here on what happens,” he asked. “Probably not! Okay, so a little politeness with me,” the trooper said promising, “goes a long way.”
Edge told his Facebook friends:
Everything I did was slow and deliberate. I didn’t want to talk over him so I paused before I spoke. He was threatening and intimidating me and I had to work to keep my composure calm. I was looking him in the face because if I hadn’t, that would have been “disrespectful” or “suspicious”. I’m not sure how else I could have been less of a threat to him
Any reasonable observer would be lying if they said Edge was in any way giving the trooper an attitude or being disrespectful or uncooperative in any way. On the contrary, the Pennsylvania State Trooper seemed to be escalating the traffic stop to the point where he could possibly have attempted to justify some use of force against the motorist.
That fact did not escape the attention of the PA State Highway Patrol, who reportedly called the successful businessman and apologized for their trooper’s lack of decorum one would expect from a highway patrolman. Edge described the apology which also explained the disciplinary action taken against the officer:
PA State Police called (after the video got 2+ million views) and admitted fault and apologized. They said they corrected the issue by telling the trooper “that’s not how you treat people”. Guess that makes it all better -__-
Edge’s highway incident serves to illustrate the importance of recording all traffic stops by police. As with his set-up, it helps when the officers are unaware they are being recorded as they often ask motorists to stop filming. But they’re representatives of the state and are paid for by tax dollars. They’re supposed to answer to and serve at the will of the people. When they’re as guilty as sin, as Watkins was, they need to be exposed. There’s no need to be victimized by law enforcement. After all, photography is not a crime.