from the ignorance-of-the-law-gets-you-a-sweet-position-on-the-nightly-newscast dept
If you’re going to be touted as an “expert,” the very goddamn least you can do is not make people stupider. May I present to you “Trooper Steve,” the resident “traffic safety expert” for ClickOrlando.com.
He comes highly-touted. None other than the Orlando Sentinel called him… well, a “traffic safety expert.” Here’s the headline:
Former FHP Trooper Steve Montiero brings wealth of knowledge as News 6 traffic safety expert
Underneath the video announcing this triumphant hiring is a sentence that makes my head ache terribly:
Montiero gained fame with the Florida Highway Patrol as a Public Information Officer…
It’s really weird that anyone would “gain fame” as a law enforcement officer. Sure, his position was more public-facing than most, but let’s not start building a statue in his honor yet.
Here’s a bit from his bio at ClickOrlando. [Please hold your vomiting until the end of the quote.]
A Central Florida native and decorated combat veteran, Montiero comes to the station following an eight-year assignment with the Florida Highway Patrol. While there, his responsibilities included patrolling Osceola, Orange, Brevard, Lake, Seminole and Volusia counties, along with the Orlando area of the Florida Turnpike. He was later assigned to the Florida Highway Patrol Motorcycle Unit, where he began doing public speaking engagements and found his passion for community involvement.
From that experience, he became the face of FHP in Orlando. Lt. Kim Montes took Steven under her wing and made him assistant Public Affairs Officer.
Over the last several years, he has become known across the Sunshine State as “Trooper Steve.” He’s spent his time doing everything from corporate events to interviews on WKMG, to just hanging out with kids in hopes of spreading the word about safe-decision making in hopes of saving just one life.
Why am I being so harsh on Trooper Steve? Well, it’s a few things. First and foremost, his leap from law enforcement officer to “traffic safety expert” assumes he actually knows how to keep traffic safe. The thing about cops is they are under no obligation to keep the public safe. As the occupation name makes clear, they are there to perform law enforcement, not keep drivers safe. If the two happen to align occasionally, everyone wins. But LEOs have no “duty of care.”
More than that, touting someone as an “expert” tends to lead viewers and readers to believe this person knows what the fuck they’re talking about. But as this recent column by “Trooper Steve” painfully proves, police PR reps make for terrible “experts.”
The question is fairly innocuous: are there any safety tips Trooper “Traffic Safety Expert” Steve could offer travelers roaming around the country with cash in their possession?
Martha, of Champions Gate, asked, “Is there anything I should know when carrying large amounts of cash in the car?
Everything goes off the rails immediately.
Well if you’re up to no good and get stopped by the police and have large amounts of cash on you, you’re going to have something to worry about. Civil asset forfeiture act requires you to show proof of cash when law enforcement is conducting an investigation.
Anything around $5,000 or more you should always have some type of paperwork showing where that money has come from, legally. This is to eliminate the idea that this money was earned or given during criminal activities for which you may be investigated.
First and fucking foremost, there is nothing illegal about cash. Cops presume there is because it puts money directly in the pockets of cops. Civil asset forfeiture tends to benefit the agency performing the seizure, so cops (and troopers) have every incentive to view any amount of cash as suspicious.
Trooper Steve draws the line at $5,000. It’s an arbitrary line. Law enforcement officers will gladly seize amounts less than that because they’re allowed to keep 85% of everything they seize.
But — either due to stupidity or as a favor to his law enforcement buddies — “expert” Trooper Steve shifts the burden of proof to drivers. That is not the law. The law — following some minimal reform efforts — lays the burden exactly where Trooper Steve says it doesn’t.
Cash seizures still won’t need to be preceded by an arrest, though under the new law, forfeiture of any property won’t be made permanent unless law enforcement can prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that it is linked to a crime. That’s the same standard of proof required for a criminal conviction.
So, it is not up to drivers to prove the cash they have on them is legit. It’s up to cops. Of course, this won’t stop a seizure, but at least the law says the burden of proof is on law enforcement. Supposed “expert” Trooper Steve says it isn’t. He is making people stupider. And perhaps conveniently so, because while you can take a cop out of the force, you can’t take the force out of the cop.
Do better with your hiring, ClickOrlando. And clean up after your repurposed public servants when they fuck up. Thanks.