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N&O Editorial: Trooper conduct is a roadside test for Gov. Perdue

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By Barry Saunders
Raleigh News & Observer

You know how Gina Tessener blew a 0.00?

Well, Gubna, you're blowing it, too.

Readers are incensed that, despite Perdue's vow of "zero tolerance" for trooper misconduct, Senior Trooper Edward Wyrick is back riding herd over state roads and Trooper Andrew Smith has been suspended but will likely be back in the saddle, too.

Whether Wyrick's stop of Tessener's Lexus was a "righteous stop" - I heard that on "Hill Street Blues" years ago - is still open for debate. But let's say Wyrick was doing what a good trooper should do when he sees a one-eyed car. Maybe it was a coincidence that the driver just happened to be a blonde driving alone.

That still doesn't justify Wyrick's unverifiable claim of smelling booze. State law said he "may" arrest her if she refuses to take a roadside sobriety test, but a veteran trooper should know when to walk away, know when to run - and when to let the lady proceed on her way. Wyrick also noted that Tessener - whom he handcuffed and placed in the backseat of his cruiser for the ride to the Wrightsville Beach Police Station - was unsteady upon exiting her car.

Who wouldn't be? I don't know about you, but I always get weak in the knees when a cop pulls me over - and I don't even wear pumps and an evening gown.

Women readers, especially, are angered by the thought of a woman thus attired and driving alone being pulled over for a reason many view as specious at best.

You should listen to them, Governor, and to a reader named Rob, who wrote, "The big lie here is 'I smelled alcohol' as the excuse to have a pretty lady walk the line and stand on one foot."

Pronouncements of zero tolerance ring hollow when not backed by action, Governor. Not only that, but they paint you into a corner: Do we really want officers fired for every misstep, or are some more egregious than others?

Some of the scores of readers from whom I heard still have confidence in the patrol, but too many were in the camp of a reader named David, who wrote, "It is a shame that we can't, because of this incident and many others involving troopers in the last several years, have more confidence in the Highway Patrol. ... It makes me sad and nervous when I see a patrol car."

Yikes. That is not what you want to hear from citizens regarding the state's top law enforcement division.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS STORY: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/07/12/1338102/trooper-conduct-is-a-road...

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

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Don't get arrested

If a trooper stops you and tells you that if you refuse testing he will have to arrest you, tell him you are not refusing -- you are claiming your legal right to take a breathalyzer test BEFORE being arrested or charged. The law says you have that right, although the Patrol and apparently the Governor think it's OK for you not to be advised of that right. If you are drunk, this may not help you, but if you blow a 0.00 the trooper will have no excuse to drive you across the county to appear before a magistrate -- or to have his buddy stop and hassle your spouse who's following the trooper -- because you have never been arrested in the first place.

Of course, a trooper can always swear you refused, even if you didn't; just like he can swear he smelled alcohol on your breath even if he didn't.

What ever happened to

Innocent until proven guilty? Everyone keeps saying cooperate and just do what they say. You couldn't be more wrong in doing this.

Everyone is so backwards in their thinking. She was innocent and knew it, there is nothing she HAS to do to prove it. Police are "evidence" gatherers. They don't prove your innocence, they prove you guilty. How do they do this?

Through interrogation, roadside tests etc. When you answer or take them, all you are doing is handing over evidence for them to interpret and use as they wish. If you aren't steady on your feet and they ask you to walk a line or stand on one foot and you tumble, this "evidence of impairment" will be used against you. They don't say well, she may have an inner ear infection or may be tired etc. They are not objective observers. They are there to gather evidence and get convictions.

Think about it, when ever does a police officer testify to your innocence? The answer, never. They are always there for the DA not you. Wake up people, you don't have to prove anything to government officials, judges, officers. They have to prove you guilty, and the way they do it is by your testimony against yourself. Refuse it all, all the time.

If you know you aren't drunk or haven't done anything wrong, don't answer them. They are not there to protect, they are there for fines, community service imposing, court fees, lawyers fees, citations, convictions etc. anymore. They only have Grey when it's good for them, for you, they have black and white.

Wake up everyone, soon. For everyone's sake, I hope you do.

Last year I retired from a

Last year I retired from a 30 year career in law enforcement , I have several comments as a result of all the available information provided on this case, including the State Police Internal Affairs investigation report:

1. The initial stop, I believe the trooper made a proper stop (the headlight had been experiencing intermitent outages as proven by the car dealer records.

2. Policy dictated that the offender be transported (in cuffs) to the local Police Station, as a result of her refusal of the road side test.

3. After the breathalizer test was 0.00 the Trooper was still following policy in transporting her (in cuffs) to a judicial authority for proper dispostion of the charges.

4. The Trooper showed restraint when confronted by the husband on his arrival at the Police Station.

5. However the Trooper's claim of smelling alchohol on the womans breath is suspect due to the 0.00 results of the breathalyizer.

6. While the text messages were made public, only the Troopers know what was said during the conversation on the police radio (the radio band, that isn't recorded or monitored)

7. The coincidence of Trooper Smith, pulling over the husband who was following the arresting Officer, while enroute to the jail, and Trooper Smith's statement to the Internal Affairs Investigator, that he didn't know what kind of car was in front of the husbands car at the light is very suspect. Nothing will convince me that wasn't setup by the Troopers ahead of time.

8. Trooper Smith seems to have a poor attitude towards the public he took an Oath to serve and protect, I would think some training is
needed.

The powers that be should look into changing the policy/law that requires a defendent to be transported to a Magistrate, only to drop charges on a case that has no probable cause and won't be prosecuted anyway. I am sure an administrative policy could be implemented that would save tax dollars, and would expedite the Trooper(s) back on patrol several hours sooner.

I think you've expressed it

I think you've expressed it very well--the law/policy should be changed requiring transporting a defendent, who has been found innocent of the charge, to a magistrate to have the charge dismissed. In addition to Smith, Trooper Wyrick should be disciplined for arresting the defendent on questionable grounds--smelling alcohol, etc. He gave Mrs Tessener reason to feel afraid, transporting her in the middle of the night over lonely country roads that she did not know.

WB dangerous?

When was the last fatal traffic accident at WB? I cannot recall one. Why were they there? I cannot recall a time when there was so much law enforcement infesting the beach and waterway areas.
Have they never looked at crime maps?

Trooper

You all can say what you want! But the GOOD OLE BOY NETWORK is alive and well! These trooper intimidated this woman to the point where she was scared. That is not protecting & serving the public. The trooper admitted himself that him & wyrick are in a competion to see who can arrest the most people. He even stated that he doesn't have time to do paperwork because when he cuts one loose he is looking for another! These people work for us they are paid with taxpaying dollars. Come on people wise up! These troopers are GUILTY as they can be, but as usual our government has turn their heads and choose just to ignore it. What are they going to do next considering they have been led to beleive they are above the law.

walking the line

I can not walk a straight line at any time, as I have had ankle problems since being a child. So if I got stopped and asked to walk the line as a straight line it would never happen, with or without shoes. So if I had even a small heeled shoe on and a gravel parking lot I can pretty much tell you I probably walk like a drunk and that would be even without drinking even a sip of wine. Things are not always what they seem. Since I was not there I am not judging either one of them.

"Readers are incensed"? You

"Readers are incensed"? You speak only for yourself - you're painting with way too broad a brush, Some readers are incensed, most are not. Everyone doesn't share your uneducated view. Wyrick is back on duty because he did nothing wrong. Smith is recieving the appropriate disciplinary action which is proportionate to the offense.
Lecturing veteran troopers on knowing when to walk away and when to run no doubt comes from your many years of experience as a veteran trooper yourself, right?
The trooper should get the benifit of the doubt before you pronounce him guilty of lying about smelling alcohol since there's other reasons for this besides consumption such as Diabetic Ketoacidosis, and the converse is true when unflavored vodka is consumed, leaving no oder on the breath of the impaired.
Now you accuse him of making this up just so he can watch a "pretty" girl do a roadside test? That's very subjective. I've seen Mrs Tessler, she's not that good looking. I've seen Wyrick's girlfriend and she's HOT. Your claim doesn't pass the test.
The Tesslers are proven liars, but you'd rather spew your poison at the ones who risk their lives protecting yours. I think it's because you secretly want to be a cop but you're resentful because you don't have what it takes to be one. It's ok, not everyone can do this, but it's sad that you feel so insecure with who you are.

Scott, if I wanted to read Barry Saunders....

...I'd subscribe to that worthless fish-wrap. The man is a liberal whacko (sorry for the redundancy) who stands against anything traditionally American.

So please - I'll take twenty stories a week about Jenelle, Brian Berger, Creepy Old Guy and His Boy-toys, the City Clowncil and Clownty Commissioners, but spare us the nonsensical rhetoric of this jackass.

You must be joking!

Mrs. Tessener blew a 0.00 AFTER she refused to take the road side test and was placed under arrest and brought to the police station.

This reader is incensed by you’re so called “news story” here. Trooper Wyrick’s name has been cleared & you still insist on trying to destroy this man for doing his job. Shame on you! Trooper Smith is being punished for his misconduct according to the law.

Your statement about the “righteous stop" is over the top. It was dark and Trooper Wyrick saw a car with a headlight out not a blonde driver who happens to be alone, Lord are you a cop hater or what?

And how do you know he didn’t smell booze on Mrs. Tessener? She admitted to drinking a glass of wine and she was at an even where alcohol was served. Yes, State law said he "may" arrest her if she refuses to take a roadside sobriety test, and he should!

Last I checked everyone who is arrested is handcuffed and placed in the backseat of the arresting officer’s cruiser. The excuse, “Who wouldn't be? I don't know about you, but I always get weak in the knees when a cop pulls me over - and I don't even wear pumps and an evening gown.” Is a crock of poo! I wear “pumps” almost every day, the evening gown not so much.

This women reader, especially, is angered by you thinking just because “a woman thus attired and driving alone being pulled over for a reason many view as specious at best.” That is the most sexist thing I’ve heard in a while.

If the Governor listened to these people thinking Trooper Wyrick is a thug of a law enforcement officer who was power hungry, he would not have been treating in a fair & legal way. He would have been hung from the nearest tree by the lynch mod who presumed him guilty without all the facts. So again, Shame! The “Big lie” here is this story. You presume to think all your readers will follow you like the pied piper of righteous indignation regardless of the proper procedure of the law. I am just happy there was video & witness(es) to prove what a load of crap you are trying to sell to everyone.

I am one of the “scores of readers” who is confident in the patrol.

How about being a reporter and not a commentator, we have shows like “The View” if we want Liberal views of a story. For the news we turn to “News Stations”. So in the future, please stick to what you are paid to do and report the news, stop trying to “make” the news.

I agree

Why is everyone so hung up on her looks? Last time I was at Wrightsville beach at night, there were plenty of hot college girls running around. Why would he waste his time on a 52 year old if he was just looking for a thrill? And if any woman doesn't feel safe driving alone at night (regardless of their attire), then they should have a male chaperone after dark. What if she had a flat tire or a wreck? You know you can't wait on the side of a gravel road in an evening dress for Bubba to fix your tire or tow your car...

He is a hater of all sorts,

He is a hater of all sorts, I don't understand why the News & Observer still has him writing a column, all he does it write stuff like this.

New Law - Pretty Women Protected from Traffic Stops

Soo... essentially, you're saying that any pretty lady driving should not be able to be stopped by police. Why... you're an idiot! Yep, I said it. That's the most ridiculous thing I've heard all day.

First... she's not that pretty. Second, how could he see what the hell she was wearing in the freakin' dark (and inside her car). Third, even if she were pretty, that should have no bearing on any decision he makes as an officer. He followed the law and the Standard Operating Procedures of the NC State Highway Patrol... that's why he had no punishment or suspension.

Face it media outlets... you were wrong in your initial reporting of this story by releasing the "lawyer's letter" assuming that he was telling the truth. When the video came out, there was no apology from the media to Wyrick... only the slander of his name. Why isn't WWAY and every other media outlet asking the lawyer why he lied??? I'd sue if I were Wyrick!

The only wrong in this story was that it was a story to begin with. Stop trying to dig up dirt from a story that never should have been.

Truth Seeker - thanks for

Truth Seeker - thanks for leaving your comments. We've tried to talk with Hoyt Tessener about his allegations not lining up with video from the Wrightsville Beach PD and the investigation, but he refuses to call us back.

sp

Scott Pickey
WWAY News Director

Scott

life is full of choices. Perhaps you need to offer the personable Hoyt Tessner a choice.

A. He can agree to a follow up interview with a tough questioner; definitely not the female reporters or Anchor. Wuzzardo probably has the stature to stand up to Hoyt.

OR

B. You can refer his case to the N C State Bar for further questioning. If they fail to do this, they need to be examined.

OR

C. He quits chasing ambulances for 6 months while he takes anger management classes.

His children must be real proud. I bet he has great parenting skills.

really?

Well what a ya know?? I would not call you back either if I lied like that. Maybe you will not be so quick to throw them under the bus newxt time. Maybe he will contact you have his lawsuit

Sooo sick of hearing people's opinions!!!

I partly blame WWAY for putting this on their station. It's over! People have their own opinions about the story and LEOs but this is getting old!!!! Find something else to write and publish and leave law enforcement to do their jobs already!!!

Tired of reading comments,

Tired of reading comments, go somewhere else..simple answer

Then go elsewhere to read...

This is a news website. WWAY is reporting the news. We read about it and can make comments via this blog. If you don't like it or you're "...soooo sick of hearing peoples opinions.", then go somewhere else and put on your POUTY face there! In case you have some sort of comprehension deficiency, let me remind you that these blogs are purposely provided for people to express their opinions. Are you jiggy now?

Would someone please bring this person some CHEESE to go with their WHINE? Geeeeeez....

Ok everyone keeps saying he

Ok everyone keeps saying he pulled her over because she was a blonde driving an expensive car... Really, it's Wilmington I promise there is more than just one of them here... and i'm pretty sure he couldn't see her at night in the windows before he pulled the car over. He had every right to pull her over if her headlight was out and whether or not he did or did not smell alcohol we will never know, but regardless of she DENYED THE TEST!!! I'm pretty sure to any law enforcement that would make you look even more guilty of drinking than before... They did nothing wrong, and as for texting as someone said before, they pay the bills, but I do know law enforcement are held to a higher standard then anyone else, but those are still private. They did nothing wrong, so this article was probably the most ridiculous thing I have ever read.

GREAT TO THE POINT ARTICLE

If that ain't the truth I never heard it..

Really?

Why cant we just let sleeping dogs lie?? I mean the reports are in and the video clearly shows how Mr and Mrs Tessner acted and how it no where near was anything they put in thier complaint. Just because she is a blonde in high heels and a dress doesnt mean thats why he pulled her over. These people wanted 15 minutes of fame and drama and thats exactly what they got. As far as the texts between these two who cares, they are thier private cell phones, they pay the bill, and they werent driving while texting. Its over and done with on with teh next story.

I know that's a comforting

I know that's a comforting thought for all the pretty blondes to know that WHY-rick is back on the prowl!

I've stated my opinion...

...on this blog regarding the Troopers behavior and demeanor. I tend to believe the punishment to be appropriate. The proof of foul and unprofessional language used by Smith tarnished his record and got him some well-deserved time off. There was zero proof against Wyrick and there was direct conflicting evidence with the Tessners accusations and Trooper Wyricks behavior on camera. In my opinion, the investigation did exactly what it was supposed to and the punishment was quite appropriate.

Upon reflecting on my past 50 some odd years, I thought up all of the times I've been pulled over, questioned, ticketed and fined by the city, county and state police. Now I'm not a criminal by any sense of the word. My very employment and the responsiblity of having a concealed carry permit depends on that status. I simply can't recall a single instance where the police were wrong and a lot of times, they gave me a break. I don't have a bad word to say about any of them I've ever dealt with.

With that said, the most important things I've always kept in mind and have always done is: Answer their questions politely, just do what they ask without grumbling and whatever you do, NEVER, EVER cop an attitude with them after they stop you, no matter how "right" you think you are or how "wrong" you think he/she may be. It is simply the wrong time and the wrong place to mouth off and act out.

REALLY????

Are you kidding me? Ok, I have an idea....if there's a lady driving alone, let's not stop her. FORGET about the law and safety, we'll just let them drive because we don't need anymore bad press. Let's forget about how the Tessener's fabricated their ENTIRE story and dragged a stand up man's name through the dirt, he never should have stopped her just bc she was a woman driving alone. As for Trooper Smith, maybe he made an error in his word choice, HOWEVER Trooper Wyrick made NO mention that he should pull over the husband or do anything about it. The lying wh*** was placed under arrest just like anybody else who refused a field sobriety test and when she blew a 0.00, she had to be taken in front of a magistrate because law enforcement can't release people after they are under arrest. What people fail to realize is Wrightsville Beach & Carolina/Kure Beach share a magistrate, so if he/she was in Carolina Beach it would've taken a lot longer for them to get to Wrightsville than the ride to Blue Clay Rd. This "story" is nothing but political BS and anybody who thinks the Tessener's are anything else are complete morons

As big as New Hanover county

As big as New Hanover county is you don't find it odd both troopers just happened to be at Wrightsville beach or in close proximity to it at the same time???????

Ever think of the fact they

Ever think of the fact they were the only two Troopers on duty and needed to remain in close proximity of each other for safety purposes?

fish

You go where they are biting idiot.

Trooper Smith to Trooper

Trooper Smith to Trooper Wyrick: you got a pretty blond headed you way! Trooper Whyrick: 10-4 good buddy, I'm on it!

Well as a women who has been

Well as a women who has been pulled over, I don't really care what I am wearing when I get pulled over, I would have cooperated especially if I knew I was not drunk. She could have taken her shoes off and walked the line and been on her merry little way and all of this would not have become such a big ordeal.