Why did Colorado police ticket a man for having a broken windshield at an auto glass repair shop?

Why did Colorado police ticket a man for having a broken windshield at an auto glass repair shop?

VicesSeptember 11, 2015 By Isabelle Kohn

When you're ticketed by police for having a broken windshield, while literally parked at an auto glass repair shop, the irony is real, and it's a pretty good indication that you're a victim of Colorado's weird over-ticketing trend.

That's exactly what happened to Nick Berlin, who tells KUSA-TV he made an appointment to replace his broken windshield just a day after vandals chucked a rock through it. Colorado's finest detected the faults in his ways, however, and pulled him over to ticket Berlin for $46 — in the parking lot of the auto glass shop he had an appointment at.

The ticket actually shows the officer cited Berlin mere minutes after his scheduled appointment time, indicating that if he'd left him alone, his windshield would have been getting fixed at that exact moment.

“I got a ticket for something that I was as close as I could be to resolving,” Berlin said.

Workers at Absolute Auto Glass, where Berlin had the appointment, were also baffled.

“We were just standing here in our door and were ready for his appointment, and all of the sudden we see a cop out there writing the guy a ticket,” shop owner David Sprague said. “We were pretty astounded to think that was what happened.”

The shop owner also said Berlin had “plenty of visibility on the driver side,” but the Adams County deputy ticketed him anyway.

“I don’t know if he’s a no-nonsense kind of cop,” Berlin said. “It was definitely a bummer.”

No-nonsense or not, there's no denying that ticketing someone for taking action to fix something that's broken is kinda ... overbearing.

Berlin actually ended up contacting the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, who said the incident "demonstrates that many law enforcement officers see their role as ticketing rather than protecting public safety — and that can erode public trust."

Colorado is already at the forefront of overzealous ticketing in the nation, with a handful of the state's towns relying on revenue generated by traffic tickets for survival. In fact, five small Colorado towns earn more than 30 percent of their revenue from fines and forfeitures: Campo, Mountain View, Morrison, Nunn and Manzanota. Campo alone rakes in 93 percent of their budget from overenthusiastic ticketing.

So, it's clear we've got a bit of a problem on our hands. Have Colorado police forgone the "Protect and Serve" mantra for "Ticket Anything That Moves" lifestyle?

The Sheriff’s Department declined to comment on the citation or the situation, but explained that ticketing officers are "given discretion when issuing citations."

Berlin said he intends to fight the $46 ticket in court, but the shop owner promised he would pay the fine if the citation isn’t dismissed.

Watch this video about Colorado's ticketing problem from KUSA-TV: