I had been living on the peninsula for a month. The weather was spotless, polished, and shiny like Prez’s cherry ’62 Camaro that he refuses to drive except for that time he almost ran over a skateboarder and three pumps at the Chevron over by the old CBR course when he was showing off with a big ol’ peel out that almost turned into felony manslaughter.
I will never forget that beautiful day, sailing along PV Drive, headed out to the Switchbacks, 65 degrees in February, and not a care in the world, not even that bright red stoplight at Hawthorne, which was nowhere near changing to green at the moment that I whizzed through it. “Heck,” I thought, “there aren’t any cars coming.”
Officer Knox proved me wrong. There was a car coming, and it was his. Flashers going full twirl, he pulled me over, made me sit down on the curb, and wrote me a $350 ticket for my blatant moving violation. It was so unjust, being forced to obey the law and stuff, but one look at Knox and I knew that I’d better shut up, and when I got through shutting up I should probably shut up some more.
He stank of cop.
As the years went by, I learned that LA Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Knox was the biggest delta bravo on the peninsula. In addition to writing tickets to bicycle scofflaws, he wrote tickets to law-abiding cyclists as well. He wrote tickets everywhere, to everyone, all the time. One time he even stuffed and cuffed Roadchamp for having had the temerity to complain while being written up for a non-violation. He wasn’t just a mean bastard, he was a sadistic bully.
So when I read in our local Daily Breeze — a cycling-hating rag that is Motordom’s answer to Fox News — that Knox in Socks was retiring from his duties as hall monitor on the Peninsula, I was euphoric. Of course I’ve forgiven Knox for ticketing me after I ran that red light, but the reason the guy was such a plague is because he was either too stupid to understand the vehicle code as it relates to cyclists (possible), or was an asshole who intentionally harassed cyclists for the fun of it (highly likely).
As recently as November he was still citing cyclists for violating CVC 21202(a) on the Switchbacks because they were not riding as far to the right as practicable even though the law allows them to move over into the lane in order to avoid road debris, hazards, or the dangers of a substandard lane width. For any cyclist who ever got wrongly cited by this boneheaded cretin, his self-congratulatory line in the Daily Sleaze article about being “passionate about traffic safety because I don’t like going to crashes and seeing people that are injured or killed” is complete horseshit.
How do I know?
Because I know what an asshole looks like. Assholes are generally people who justify fucking with other people because they believe in “public safety” or “protecting people from themselves.” Good law enforcement doesn’t involve indiscriminate ticketing, and Knox’s career of writing an average of 14 tickets a day for 31 years proves what cyclists on the Hill knew: If this knuckledragger hadn’t written his quota and you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, you were getting a ticket. What other kind of person than an asshole would handcuff an angry, tiny little cyclist who was protesting a bogus ticket?
Knox’s incompetence and venal harassment of cyclists wasn’t limited to tickets, though. His hatred of bicycles made itself known in a much more offensive and harmful way: The Knox traffic investigation. This clown was known to twist the facts when investigating a car-bike collision to pin the tail on the cyclist whenever possible. I recall one case where a cyclist had been right-hooked on Hawthorne and Deppity Doofus still managed to find the rider at fault.
This type of bungling and prejudicial investigation made it much harder, time consuming, and costly for injured cyclists to obtain compensation, and reinforced what appeared to be Knox’s own personal world view, that might makes right.
Of course Knox always had plenty of stories with him playing the hero, and I got to see him toot his horn at an RPV traffic committee meeting once. He loved to talk about how he’d chased down someone “doing 120 in a 40,” and in truth he probably did ticket thousands of speeders who deserved it.
But like every other little mini-dictator, he lacked discretion, he misapplied the law, and he justified his crazy zeal for ticketing with indiscriminate enforcement of the law. How badly was he hated? Other police officers in Hermosa have confided to me that the guy was regarded by his peers as a 14-carat asshole. “He’s the only cop out there,” one guy said, “who enjoys ticketing other cops.”
Knox’s boss, Captain Blaine Bolin, was of course extremely proud of his henchman’s work, and called the general hatred and fear people had of this deputy “The Knox Effect.” Of course it’s true that as a result of bad police work and illegal ticketing people were afraid of him, and they probably did drive more carefully. But this shows the incompetent mentality at the top, which thinks that the ends justify the means. With Captain Bolin’s logic, we could get even better results by simply shooting people on the spot. And there’s a reason that Bolin and Knox prefer the “ticket everyone” approach: It’s easy.
What’s hard is to learn the law and apply it properly. What’s hard is to impartially deal with people you may not like. What’s hard is to realize that even though you carry a gun you’re still a public servant, and you work for us. What’s hard is to be a peace officer instead of a chest-thumping bully.
Of course there are excellent deputies out there, and the recent absence of Knox has been noticed. Police work is hard work, but not nearly as hard as mowing lawns, mining coal, or working in a meat packing plant. Plus, if you’re a cop it’s because you signed up for it, so do us all a favor and know the laws you’re paid to fairly apply.
So while RPV and the Lomita substation mourns the loss of a guy who gave other cops a bad name, of an unpleasant jerk who equated harassment with police work, of a pathetic, lonely, mean sonofabitch who instilled fear and loathing instead of respect and appreciation, I can say only this: Good fucking riddance, and I hope that in your retirement you take up bicycling. Because there are a whole lot of people who would love to take you for a little pedal around the Hill.
For $2.99 per month you can subscribe to this blog and let someone else complain about Deputy Knox. Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!