The Walkerville Weekly Reader

National Desk: Hard-hitting journalism from your completely un-biased (pinky swear!) reporters in Walkerville, VA.

Walkerville, VA
Monday, February 26, 2024
Carolyn Purcell, Editor

CHiPs officer loses job over highway incident

California Highway Patrol officer loses job after telling motorist “change the law if you don’t like it.”

When California Highway Patrol Officer Neumann Rodion stopped Ms. Gena Stavenik’s red SUV on April 3 last month, he presumably did not expect it to cost him his job. Ms. Stavenik was driving 78 mph on Interstate 5 between San Diego and Los Angeles, thirteen miles per hour above the speed limit of 65.

As he does whenever anyone he tickets complains, Officer Rodion handed her a special business card listing telephone numbers for the California legislature.

Officer Rodion’s car-mounted video camera captured the event. After taking her information, Ms. Stavenik attempted to question the officer.

Ms. Stavenik: Why did you choose me? I wasn’t going faster than anyone else.

Officer Rodion: You were speeding.

Ms. Stavenik: Everyone does it!

Officer Rodion: Yes, everyone does it, but it’s still against the law. Here. You can change it if you don’t like it.

At this point in the video, Officer Rodion hands her a business card, allegedly the legislative information card explaining how to change the law. Ms. Stavenik tosses the card aside.

Stavenik: Why aren’t you out stopping real criminals?

Officer Rodion: Until the law gets changed, ma’am, you are a real criminal. Good day, Ms. Stavenik.

After Officer Rodion walks away, the camera picks up Ms. Stavenik’s door opening, and a hand reaching down to pick up the discarded business card.

Later that week, Ms. Stavenik apparently did use the card: to complain about Officer Rodion’s behavior. California State Senator George Leonard called the Highway Patrol, the Highway Patrol began an investigation into Officer Rodion’s conduct, and on April 27, Rodion was let go from the police department.

“He’s always been a bit sarcastic,” said fellow officer Nick Michaku. “He’s been handing out these stupid cards for years. This time, someone called his bluff.”

Highway Patrol public relations Officer Camille Ontori called Rodion’s behavior “unacceptable for an officer of the law” and added that “it isn’t an officer’s place telling people how to change the law. It just confuses them. And what would happen if they tried it?”

“I don’t want the law changed,” said Ms. Stavenik. “I just want them to enforce it against someone else. I’m a good citizen.”

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