Since 2007, at least 20 Dallas police officers from five patrol divisions have wrongly cited motorists for not speaking English, according to records.One could almost imagine the combination of ignorance, bigotry and departmental folklore that might combine to cause 20+ officers to give tickets for this imaginary offense, but what explains how or why the municipal courts processed guilty pleas and fines in five cases? Apparently a case of the blind judging the blind.
The number of officers tied to the tickets is greater than police initially estimated. And it is likely to grow because Dallas police officials say they plan to look back several more years and include the supervisors who signed off on the tickets in the investigation for possible dereliction of duty.
Almost all of the 38 people cited for the offense – which is not a crime in Dallas – were Hispanic. None of the officers who wrote the tickets were Hispanic, records show. The officers range from rookie to 13-year veteran and wrote as many as five tickets each for not speaking English.
In five cases, the person cited paid all or a portion of the $204 fine. In the other cases, the charges were dismissed, officials said. Police initially said 39 tickets had been issued in the last few years, but Administrative Judge C. Victor Lander said one of those tickets was voided.
Kathy and I would like to drive down to Veracruz state next summer to Xalapa and I hope the Mexicans don't reciprocate and require me to demonstrate Spanish fluency. If they do, though, just like these five people did in Dallas, I'll probably just pay la mordida and move on.
If this doesn't make it into Texas Monthly's annual Bum Steer awards then Jake Silverstein and Co. just aren't paying attention.