Life as a road officer isn't always easy

By Kathy Helms-Hughes

STAR STAFF
khughes@starhq.com

   The life of a patrol officer isn't always an easy one. Some days, even writing a simple traffic citation may make an officer wonder why he stopped the driver in the first place, while the driver may feel that he has just become the victim of a quota system.
   On Tuesday, Elizabethton Police Department Ptl. Shannon Peters was on routine patrol when he noticed a small four-door sedan traveling north on U.S. Highway 19E at 60 mph in a 40 mph zone. The officer turned on the vehicle, following it north onto Highway 91 where he stopped it at the intersection of Highway 91 and Watauga Industrial Park Drive.
   The officer identified the driver as Ari M. Halberg, 21, 125 Meredith Drive. Ptl. Peters told the driver why he had stopped him, then returned to his police unit to write a citation for speeding. When he returned to Halberg's vehicle to explain the citation, Halberg became belligerent, according to the report, asking the officer "if I had met my quota for the month."
   Halberg then told Ptl. Peters, "I bet you like writing tickets," the report states.
   Ptl. Peters said he told Halberg he was only doing the job he was paid to do by the citizens of the city he works for, to which he said Halberg responded, "You don't even have a conscience, do you?"
   Ptl. Peters said he then told Halberg to have a good evening and turned toward his police unit. As he did so, Halberg yelled something out the window, then peeled out, squealing his vehicle's tires from the shoulder of the road onto the blacktop, a distance of 10 to 15 yards.
   The officer got into his police unit and stopped Halberg again a short distance from the first traffic stop. This time, he told Halberg to step out of the vehicle and place his hands on the car because he was under arrest for reckless driving.
   "Mr. Halberg got out of the vehicle but stated he was not under arrest," Ptl. Peters said.
   The officer again told him he was under arrest and to do as he asked.
   "Mr. Halberg stated, 'No, I was not taking him to jail,' " Peters said.
   The officer attempted to get hold of Halberg but he pulled away and walked to the front of his vehicle. He finally complied, however, when he turned and found that Ptl. Jason Shaw had arrived on the scene to assist his fellow officer.
   Halberg was taken into custody without further incident.