What would you do if you were washing your car in your driveway and a city police officer drove up and told you that you’re not allowed to do that and if you continue, you’ll get a ticket?
That’s what happened to Jonathan Schmidt, 24, and Peter Bueno, 22, of Garden City, New York. Bueno had recently purchased a 1997 Volkswagen Golf and was preparing to wash and detail it in Schmidt’s driveway. Before Bueno could turn on the hose, a Garden City police officer pulled up and told him that he was about to break the law.
Schmidt was in the house, but when called out by Bueno, he began videoing the confrontation with the police officer with his cell phone. Bueno asked the officer if there was a problem. The officer responded:
“The problem being, your neighbor doesn’t like you.”
Schmidt told the officer:
“That’s not my fault.”
The officer responded:
“It is when he starts calling about things being done that goes against a village ordinance … such as doing any kind of detailing here like washing the car and things like that. You’re not allowed to do it.”
At that time, the officer opened up a copy of the city ordinances and read it to the two men. When the officer read the section that states that no vehicle can be washed on any public street, highway or public place, the two men said they weren’t on the street and that the driveway was on private property. The officer responded:
“It’s still in public view.”
The officer then warned them that if they proceeded to wash the car in the driveway, they will be ticketed, so they waited until the officer left and then went ahead and washed the car.
The harassment of the officer could be due to a prior run in the two had with the police back in 2009. They were arrested for graffiti and Schmidt was ordered to pay restitution and Bueno was given three months probation. They admit that they were young and stupid at the time, but ever since then the police keep a watch on them.
Schmidt uploaded the video he took of the event and it quickly went viral. They have noticed that the police have made a number of drivebys since the video was posted and that pair have continued to detail and work on the car, but no tickets have yet been issued.
But when is it illegal to wash a car in someone’s own driveway? That’s not considered public property or area and saying that it’s in public view is ridiculous. There are lots of things that are in the public view that are not considered to be public. The White House is in public view, but I dare you to try to climb the fence surrounding it. In many cities, pets are not allowed to be free roaming in public places. They are required to be in the immediate control of their owner, but if someone has a chain link fence surrounding their house and their dogs is roaming free in the yard, that’s not considered to be public, even though it can be viewed by others.
I’ve long been a supporter of law enforcement but lately I’ve seen so many instances like this one where the police are bullying law abiding citizens and their actions amount to harassment. I would like to see the officer disciplined for harassing the two men perhaps more because of their past than for their current legal actions.