My title is no reason for Lakewood City Council to get nervous. I am not writing about the illustrious members of our Lakewood City Council. My article concerns Washington State government and a failure of our home grown presidential candidate, Governor Jay Inslee. I will get into all of that in a few paragraphs.
My column today is the beginning of a 3-part series with titles of, #1: Westside Story – Government Ignorance, #2: Westside Story – Government Silliness, and #3: Westside Story – Cop Compromise Solution.
Lets start by allowing me to make my first point, which is, as time passes, times change.
Times Change #1: Buggy Whips. Not today. Times have changed. Have you ever noticed no matter how much stuff is crammed into your garage, there is not a single buggy whip? Times change.
Times Change #2: Phone booths. Not today. Times have changed. When I was a kid, my pal Biff and I use to make a darn fine kid-living on our well-established phone booth route. We would prowl old Highway 99 in South Seattle stopping at every phone booth on our neighborhood trap-line to score a pocket full of free money by emptying the coin return slots. There were dozens of phone booths full of coins left by absent-minded, phone booth users.
As soon as we found two nickels, Biff and I would beat feet for our local donut shop. In those days a donut cost a nickel. In our own kid way, we did our best to utilize our phone booth cash flow system to stimulate the local economy.
Today, a kid is hard pressed to find even a single phone booth, let along fill his or her pocket with loose change. Maybe that helps explain why Socialism is becoming more popular in certain circles. Times change.
Let’s break for a moment to explore the subject of ignorance.
Imagine our government passing a new law requiring every vehicle owner to carry a bottle of the green window paint like police officers use to tag abandoned vehicles. The law would mandate that each vehicle owner complete three action steps whenever they parked their car away from home.
Step #1: Mark the front windshield with the words. “I am here, so I am not at home.”
Step #2: Mark the back glass with words disclosing your address, “My address is 123 Main Street SW, Lakewood, WA.
Step #3: Sign my signature on the back glass.
If my imaginary window-marking scenario was actual law, would you consider the obvious act of government helping criminals identify and successfully victimize innocent citizens to be a case of government ignorance?
In effect, our current Washington State vehicle registration requirements are set to produce results similar to my ridiculous green window paint scenario described above.
Two points should be clear by now: #1. As time passes, times change. #2. Informing the criminal element that we are not at home and then giving the felon our home address along with our personal signature is a case of ignorant behavior.
Times Change #3: Vehicle registration. This outmoded document is still with us today even though times have changed.
Decades ago, Washington State Legislature passed a law mandating that we must carry a current, signed, vehicle registration to be presented to law enforcement upon demand. For further detail, click my LINK: Vehicle Certificates – RCW 46.16A.180. The current updated law also allows a citizen to present the registration electronically on a device such as a smartphone or a laptop.
As a former police officer, I asked the following question during traffic stops and collision investigations thousands of times. “May I see your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance?
These documents have historically been required to accomplish effective police work, but times have changed.
Today inside patrol cars, police have computers, bar code readers, and police radio systems connected to their records department. These modern-day changes trigger the question; Is it necessary to require a signed hard or electronic copy of our registration as we approach the year 2020?
While I comply with the current law by maintaining an up-to-date, signed vehicle registration in my car, truck, and motorcycle, I do so against my better judgment based on my belief that our current registration law amounts to an outdated, ignorant, dangerous, and unnecessary government mandate.
If I am contacted by law enforcement, assuming my vehicle has a license plate, and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) all the officer has to do is radio in on his shoulder-mounted walkie-talkie to the police records division to gain all the information that could be found on vehicle registrations. Or the officer, using the onboard laptop computer and remote printer inside the patrol car, can get all the required vehicle registration information on the computer screen or printed in hardcopy.
If I do not have a license plate or VIN, I should get ready to kiss my vehicle goodbye.
Currently, if I am not able to present a copy of my registration, or if the document is not signed, the officer can issue a traffic infraction with a monetary fine of $136.
The main thrust of my entire article as related to vehicle registrations follows next.
CRIME SCENARIO: I drive my car to the movie theater, sports event, or restaurant. A felon watches me park my vehicle knowing, based on the venue I am attending, I will be gone from home for 1 – 4 hours.
This action is equivalent of our government making me write, “I AM HERE, SO I AM NOT AT HOME” in green window paint on my windshield.
The car thief then breaks into my car and locates my government compliant vehicle registration. With this document in hand Washington State supports his criminal enterprise by providing him useful information such as my home address and personal signature. I ask, Who should our government help and protect, us or a lazy bottom feeder desperado? This action is equivalent of our government making me write with green window paint on the back glass, “MY ADDRESS IS 123 MAIN STREET SW, Lakewood, WA, FOLLOWED BY MY SIGNATURE”.
As the criminal drives away in my car, he knows I am not home, I will be away from home for 1 – 4 hours, my address, and my signature. The criminal can match up my onboard garage door opener, which is a key to my residence to my address. This is an ugly, ignorant, unnecessary situation.
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee is running for president in 2020. You would think a guy smart enough to be president would be smart enough to solve this simple vehicle registration problem. I have not heard a peep out of Governor Inslee on this matter. Maybe he is not smart enough to be president.
While the criminal drives to my house after being invited by our state government, he can stop by my mailbox and if lucky, will find some kind of juicy mail, like bank statements he can use for a forgery or identity theft crimes.
This set of circumstances, based on current law, shows our state government, which is supposed to help and protect citizens of our state, is actually aiding, enabling, and supporting criminal victimization of Washington State citizens.
Should a citizen experience property damage, property loss, injury, financial harm, or death because of the Revised Code of Washington, (RCW 46.16.A180), any thinking person can easily see that our unnecessary and outdated registration law should have gone the way of the buggy whip and phone booth. Times have changed, but the registration law has not.
- Change the law to allow for the elimination of the mandate to possess the registration form or if we are to still be required to possess the form, eliminate the harmful address and signature requirements that put citizens at risk.
- In a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) solution, use a black sharpie pen to heavily obliterate the address. Note: While I can find no law prohibiting this action, there may well be such a law. I personally would rather accept a traffic infraction for hiding my address than turn my address, possessions, and family over to the evil criminal element. I can contest my ticket in traffic court and if I get a judge with common sense, I may have he traffic ticket dismissed.
- My favorite DIY solution is to use an X-Acto knife to cut out the printed address. Note: Ditto my note in #2 above.
- Use the RCW provision allowing citizens to present their registration electronically.
- Carry your registration on your person rather than in your vehicle.
- Hide the registration in your trunk under the floorboard in the spare tire compartment. Note: While #6 will likely not be a favorite option in the officer’s mind, you are meeting the intent and the letter of the law. The officer has two choices. (1) Allow you to access your registration which you have hidden from criminals inside your trunk or (2) Use the police radio to check the registration with Records.)
- Sign your registration using your off-hand; in my case as a right-handed person, I could sign with my left hand. My left hand produces my signature, but not a signature that will match up for forgery or identity theft purposes.
If anyone is victimized because they complied with our current obsolete Washington State registration requirement, I doubt law enforcement or Washington State authorities will be willing to write a check to compensate a victim for the harm caused after being forced to provide sensitive information to miscreants.
Wait, there is more, yet harmless, government vehicle registration silliness, but I will save that for my next article so you can get on with your day. Watch for Part II titled, Westside Story – Government Silliness.
Following Part II in this series, I plan to share Part III titled, Westside Story – Cop Compromise Solution.
You may be happy to learn, following Part III there is no Part IV. We may well be finished with this topic.