From time to time I like to watch the occasional police program on television. I don’t mean works of fiction, but the alleged ‘real’ thing. Shows like The First 48 are what I enjoy, although that has become very repetitive with time. The new kid on the block in the genre is a show called Live PD on A&E.
The premise is that three in-studio hosts monitor a bunch of screens from police departments around the US as they go about their duty and when something of interest happens they switch to that feed. There are chases, accidents, routine stops and in Calvert County, Maryland a whole whack of field sobriety tests.
I don’t think that the good folks of Calvert County are any more likely to have a few too many and get behind the wheel of a car than anywhere else in the country, so why so many tests? Could it be that there is one cop in particular who seems to enjoy the process, and who evidently has never met a camera he did not like? One Tony Moschetto.
This guy could have his own A&E show and do nothing but field sobriety tests. He narrates the process as he goes along, cuts off the testee if they dare to ask a question and generally makes a whole palaver out of a relatively simple procedure. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for keeping drunks off our roads. In fact I think zero tolerance might be the way to go. Why dither over 0.82 and 0.79 when lives may rest in the balance?
But back to the field test. This guy makes people walk toe-to-heel for nine paces, then turn around and return. It takes him about an hour to explain the process, often speaking directly to the camera as if the driver isn’t there. Then he tells them to stand on one foot to check their balance. Imagine if you will a man or woman, who has not had a drink in two weeks gets pulled over for not signalling a turn and this guy decides to put on his show. The person gets out of the car on the side of the road with red and blue lights flashing like the Las Vegas Strip and an A&E camera crew in their face and they are expected to perform these usually simple tasks which, given the nervousness of being on national television, must take on Cirque du Soleil difficulty.
Once he has had his fill of camera time, only then does he bring out the determining factor, the roadside breathalyzer. In fairness he does explain that this test is not admissible in court and is only an indication of the person’s blood alcohol level. Why the hell did he not do that from the get go? What’s with all the silly line walking and balancing acts. Breathalyse first.
The late comedian David Brenner made a great observation when he pointed out what a bastard ET was. Those kids had him in the bicycle basket for the entire chase scene until, just as things looked dire, he put up his freaky gnarled finger and – voila – they were all airborne. Why did he make them cycle their arses off for six minutes and only then fly? This cop seems to share the same sadistic trait.