No one wants to see blue flashing lights in their rear-view mirror while they’re behind the wheel of a car. In most cases, it means that they’re in some violation of a traffic law – and a cop just so happened to catch them in the act.
And that’s exactly what happened to one man, who was caught whizzing through an Australian residential area. A cop then pulled him over for his wrongdoing. And as the police officer issued a penalty for the man’s offense, neighbors gathered around to watch.
But what happened next would surprise anyone who has experienced the inherent danger of someone speeding through a residential area: one of the people living there jumped to the driver’s defense. However, while TV cameras rolled, the officer responsible for pulling him over decided to teach all of the locals a lesson.
Why were the cameras there? That’s because the cop who pulled the man over was part of a TV show called Highway Patrol, which follows officers in Victoria, Australia. The show has been on the air since 2009, with its ninth season beginning in July 2017.
The documentary-style show trails police officers on the job, acting as a witness to real-life scenarios. Sometimes police are seen putting the pedal to the metal in pursuit of criminals. At other times, the cameras follow cops taking drunk drivers off the road or tending to those who have been involved in accidents. And, in some instances, the show just features routine traffic stops.
So when Senior Constable Shaun Rothe pulled a driver over for speeding during the show’s eighth season in 2016, it might’ve seemed as though it would be one of Highway Patrol’s less exciting scenes. People get ticketed for speeding all the time, after all.
Instead, the senior constable’s apparent passion for road safety – and the way in which he expressed it – resonated with viewers in Australia and abroad. In fact, the clip quickly went viral, spreading Rothe’s message and earning him huge praise both in his home country and further afield.
Rothe initially pulled the driver over for going almost 19 miles per hour over the speed limit. While this is a dangerous choice on any roadway, the police officer saw it as particularly reckless because the man was speeding through a residential area.
The show’s narrator explained, “Shaun’s biggest concern is the number of people on the streets, particularly kids, being put at risk by such high speeds.” And while the senior constable undoubtedly explained his stance to the speeding driver, the man still asked that the fine be dropped.
At this point, those living in the neighborhood had gathered around to watch as the cop issued the ticket. Surprisingly, some even threw their support behind the driver. That’s despite the fact that his reckless choices could have injured them or any family members outside at the time.
“I’m with you, brother. I’m filming for you, bro,” one man said as he captured the entire scene on his smartphone. He even reached into Rothe’s police vehicle to take footage of the cop’s computer and camera system.
Then the man caught by Rothe pleaded his case to the senior constable. “I’ve just got to say that there are bigger offenders every night in this area,” he opined. Rothe could only agree with this statement. “You’re right, there probably is,” he replied. But the officer was only just getting started with what he had to say.
Indeed, he added to the driver, “It’s because of those people [that] we get drawn here to do our job. And at the point when someone goes flying past me at [19 miles] per hour more than the speed limit, I seem to think that that’s probably the person I need to be speaking to. And, tonight, that’s you.”
Then he turned to the rest of the crowd, including the driver and his supporters. “I tell you what I find funny – you know, you can take this for what it’s worth,” Rothe went on. “I’ve stood here, and I’ve listened to everything that’s been said in the background here tonight.”
The senior constable continued, “And, you know, I’ve heard, ‘Oh, don’t worry about it, bro. It’s all right, it’s all good, mate. Don’t worry about it, it’s not an issue.’” His tone, meanwhile, made it clear that he disagreed with the neighbors’ support of the driver.
Then Rothe pointed down the street towards a handful of children wearing helmets, riding bikes and presumably playing in the street before the police officer’s arrival. “I see kids standing here and the same people that are probably the parents of those children,” he added.
“They’re happy to support someone who drives like that in a residential street with a propensity to kill a child as that child goes out onto the road,” Rothe continued. “[The children] have no road sense and no situational awareness,” he reminded all of the adults.
Rothe then wound up his message by expressing his shock at the parents and how “they’re happy to support someone that does that.” Eventually, he concluded by saying, “I find that a greater crime than the crime that you committed tonight. You should think about that, and so should they.”
With that message for all of the adults to consider, Rothe turned around and walked away from the scene. He went back to his task of patrolling the streets and keeping them safe – with Highway Patrol viewers seeing all of it on their TV screens.
The episode featuring this traffic-stop-turned-lesson aired in Australia on July 25, 2016, and it soon became a hit with fans of the show and beyond. Since its debut, in fact, one YouTube recording of the scene has garnered more than a million views. Most who have commented on the video, meanwhile, have only lauded Rothe’s dedication to road safety. And, hopefully, those there on the day of his speech learned a lesson about speeding, too.