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Imagine this scenario:

At 2 a.m., a surgeon, the best in his field in his city, receives a call at home from the hospital. He is needed immediately in the operating room to save the life of a police officer who had just received multiple gunshot wounds to the chest. The surgeon gets into his fastest car and races to the hospital.

Along the way, another police officer, from the same precinct as the wounded officer, tracks him at 50 mph in a 35 mph zone; however, there is no one at all on the road besides the surgeon. The officer decides to pull over the surgeon, and flashes his lights.

Despite his stress and rush, the surgeon pulls over to try to explain his situation. The officer, however, comes over with a major attitude, and demands to know why the surgeon was speeding, and asks him to produce his license and registration. The surgeon begins to explain his situation, but is cut off by the cop again with a request for his license and registration. By now, the surgeon has become frustrated as well, with knowledge that a patient, another officer nonetheless, is slowly dying on the table in the hospital. A good couple minutes have past, not including the lost travel time.

After the officer finishes his power trip, the surgeon is able to explain the situation fully, but is still issued a citation (and thus loses more time in having the ticket written up) and a warning not to do it again. The officer is oblivious to the dilemma of the surgeon.

The surgeon thus arrives at the hospital later than expected, but the valuable time lost had cost the patient dearly. The wounded officer dies on the operating table. The officer who had written the ticket learns later that he was the cause of the delay, and had cost his fellow officer his life.

I'd like to know what the Everything community's take is on this. Here are some questions on the matter that can be answered in writeups (but definitely don't limit yourselves to these):

  • How would the ticket writing officer feel? (esp. if you, the noder, are or at one time were an officer of the law)
  • Who was wrong? Who was in the more morally defensible position?
  • Are there any means to correct this tragedy?
  • What can we do as a society to prevent this kind of thing from happening?

Well, I'll give my take:

  • Who knows? The more important question is: "Would he feel any differently if the victim was not a police officer?"
  • The officer was harrassing someone who was causing no danger to anyone else, and furthermore, he didn't give the surgeon a chance to explain. I think that makes it pretty clear.
  • No, but the officer should be punished. I would suggest firing him and preventing him from ever being bonded (that way he can't work as a private security guard).
  • I disagree with monitary fines for traffic violations. First off, they don't work, and they don't punish people equally ($100 is worth more to someone making $20000/year than it is to someone making $40000/year). Secondly, they provide an incentive to governmental bodies to pass them out, as they're a source of revenue. Also, police forces should be treated as what they are, military units. There should be dishonorable discharge/military prison for those that step out of line.

By writing this I am playing the Devil's Advocate to some extent. Note that and please consider the following.

In my (limited) experience with the police and surgeons I have found that it would be much more likely that the surgeon would be the one on the power trip. By and large I think surgeons act like petty gods much more often than do the police.

The scenario would be more realistic in my opinion if the surgeon cost the officer's life by having an attitude problem to the extent he took a swing at the traffic cop and got arrested.

I have been pulled over thrice, and while none of the experiences were fun, in all cases the officer was a consummate professional. And twice I was let off with a warning rather than being given a ticket despite the fact that I had violated the letter of the law. (Wrong turn in one case and lights off at night in the other.)

The traffic policeman was really just doing his job. When confronted by a speeding driver, the officer must get the license and registration details.

Reading between the lines, I'd imagine that the surgeon would have been quite agitated and possibly angry to the point of abuse. The police officer would have interpreted this in the context of his experience - The surgeon may have something to hide (I'm sure at this point the policeman didn't know/believe that the guy he pulled over was a surgeon)

How much faster would the surgeon have gotten to the theatre if he had travelled at the correct speed? Why don't surgeons have flashing lights with their cars? Why wasn't a surgeon at the hospital? Why didn't the surgeon/hospital phone ahead for a police escort?

It's easy to ask questions and dole out blame with the 20/20 vision hindsight gives you.

It was no one's fault.

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