Washington State Patrol: Above the law?

For most people, it is illegal to take the license plates off one car and drive around with them affixed to another. Of course, Washington State Patrol troopers aren’t most people.

Perhaps it seems a small thing, but the actions of Trooper Bradford A. Moon serve as a reminder that police officers are not subject to the law. Motorist Dave Milbrandt raised the issue after he received a $247 ticket for speeding on Highway 4 near Longview, Washington. Trooper Moon, who wrote the ticket, was driving an unmarked Dodge Charger with Oregon plates taken from a car he owned. Moon’s superiors have expressed concern:

Moon, who removed the Oregon plates after the incident came to light, was trying to be creative in catching speeders but should have told his superiors, State Patrol Sgt. Randy Hullinger said Monday.

“It’s not typically something that is done,” Hullinger said.

We encourage our troopers to look at innovative ways to catch people,” he said, “but it’s always good to run innovative ideas past somebody else so we can consider all possible outcomes.

“He went out on his own. He was attempting to use some initiative to solve a problem, which is our job, but in this case it looks like maybe judgmentwise he should have run it by somebody else.”

Moon failed to consider that “the first thing the motoring public might think is, ‘Is this a police impersonator?’ ” Hullinger said.

When they see a nonstandard police car, we want people to understand that when all the lights go on … this is for real — but if there are Oregon plates on the car, there’s just that much more concern in the public’s eye it might not be a police car.”

Apparently, the thought of state patrol troopers breaking the law in the line of duty is not an issue for concern. According to the Associated Press, Trooper Moon will not face disciplinary action, and Washington State Patrol officials think the ticket should stand.

There are circumstances under which the police are within their right to break laws, or appear to break laws. Operating as a buyer for illegal gun sales or large quantities of cocaine, for instance. But Trooper Moon’s ploy, while it certainly seems minor, is important. That it is a minor offense suggests that it’s not really so important to calculate such a deception. If Moon stopped Milbrandt right where the speed zone occurs, that’s a fairly petty stop, anyway; the kind of thing that gets people muttering about cops who have to fill monthly quotas. To the other, if Milbrandt sped along without regard for the changing speed limit, it seems rather silly that the State Patrol would even need such deceptive measures to catch him.

An analogy would be prostitution stings. Busting a hooker is one thing, and, in the end, a debatable—at best—priority in many jurisdictions. But it would seem rather silly and untoward to actually bang the hooker first, and then arrest her.  Such behavior, to judge by the State Patrol’s regard for its officers breaking the law, would be just dandy.

Perhaps such a presumption is inappropriate, but the Washington State Patrol website does not seem to offer any information for public consumption regarding the standards of conduct or ethics required of its troopers. There is no mention of such information in the site map, and apparently question does not come up very frequently.

35 thoughts on “Washington State Patrol: Above the law?

  1. I have to side with the cop on this one. The flow chart in a cop’s head is pretty simple:

    Is this person speeding?
    If yes: Write ticket.
    If no: Eat remaining donuts.

    Yes it sucks that you can get nabbed by something other than a plainly marked police vehicle, but if you aren’t sneaky you aren’t going to catch any bad guys. Catching bad guys is what cops do. They like doing it and they think of new ways to do it all the time.

    This is a GOOD thing.

    I don’t like being hassled by the man any more than anyone else. Probably more so than most people, but you KNOW when something goes wrong there is only one number that you call and the cops always show up looking to help. I don’t think that gives them a right to do whatever they want however they want to do it but oversight is built into their organization and you have to trust them to enforce the laws we vote for.

    There are bad cops and they sometimes make bad decisions. This wasn’t one of them.

  2. So, if a cop knowingly starts shooting his gun “across” a busy highway to try to catch a presumed felon, and kills an innocent motorist, which RCW 9.41 says is illegal, and prohibited for ANY-ONE(cop, or not) to do.
    Is this OKAY?
    Or, what about those retarded cops who are simply late to a meeting, and fly at warp speed on our highways, and kills someone.
    Is this OKAY?
    Again what about the brain-dead cop who drives 100++ MPH on our city streets without lights, and sirens using “officer discretion” with NO due regard kills someone in an intersection?
    Is this OKAY?
    Are cops allowed to to anything they want just to get their real life quotas for the day???
    Tell me what is reality anymore please.
    I want these idiots behind bars with a permanent tattoo on their forehead that reads EX-COP. Let’s see how long these smart people will last in prison.
    Your friend.

    • Paul,

      Are you kidding me? In all of your stories civilian death was the end result. How, under any circumstances can this officers misguided judgement lead to death. Can you see how silly you are?

      The difference between Law Enforcement breaking laws and civilians breaking laws is very simple and clear.

      1. They put their lives on the live everyday to protect our rights and freedoms just like any soldier the we so delicately honor for their bravery and sacrifice.

      2. They can use discretion to justify, “within reason.” Are you really going to fault the trooper for trying to be innovative to catch speeders on your roads? He was not doing it to evade taxes and fees like the law was set up for in the first place.

      3. They did not just disregard the act all together, it was a training moment and lesson learned for the WSP they did reprimand him in an appropriate manner.

      4. The so called quotas you freely mention are not the cause of such actions. the quotas that are required of law enforcement officers is not a difficult task, there are so many troopers that give minimum fines it would blow you socks off to know. I have had the privilege of ridding along with a few of our local troopers and although they could sight a driver for 3-4 infractions they only sight for 1 or 2 and warn the driver of the other 2-3. If quotas were a major factor then they would sight for all violations to meet the quotas.

      Do not judge the men and women that protect you and your family day and night until you know the circumstances and understand the motive behind the action. Law breakers are getting smarter especially with technology now days, law enforcement has to continually come up with safe innovative ideas to cut them off at the pass and every now and then they get ahead of themselves.

      Give ’em a Break! I happen to know Sgt. Hullinger personally and know the sacrifices that he and his troopers make and how honest and forthright they strive to be everyday. their jobs are not easy and they have to make split second decisions that you and I would never want to have to make.

      Be Grateful for their service!

  3. You’re right Paul. There are many people out there who don’t deserve the privilege of being in law enforcement. Unfortunately the retirement packages they offer people in exchange for the risk of getting shot at these days pale in comparison to the ones offered the last generation. Add to that the fact that fighting crime is one of the few recession proof jobs and you have a recipe for sub standard applicants. I’m sorry if you’ve had bad experiences with law enforcement, but I can tell you that there are some people that get into it for better reasons than being able to speed on the freeway and push people around.

  4. A dumb action is defined by an individual
    setting out to do something well intentioned
    without forecasting the possible outcomes.
    A wrong action is defined by bad intention.
    Not only these, but a dumb action brings suspicion of a wrong action.
    We don’t have enough data here to judge a wrong action.

    However, my conclusion is that dumb actions by police officers are double dumb.

  5. Troopers are authorized by State law to have “confidential license plates”. They are normal looking license plates that return to nothing – they are unregistered – completely worthless. I’m sure that Trooper Moon felt that any old license plate would do, especially when Washington Law allows him to display “confidential license plates”.

  6. Here is the law’s text:

    WAC 308-96A-080 Washington State Register filings since 2003
    Undercover and confidential license plates — Application procedures.

    (1) What are undercover and confidential license plates? They are standard issue license plates assigned only to vehicles owned or operated by government agencies as identified in RCW 46.08.066. These vehicles include, but are not limited to, off road vehicles, trailers, and snowmobiles.

    (2) When is an undercover or confidential license plate issued? An undercover or confidential license plate is issued to government agencies when being used in confidential, investigative, or undercover work.

    (3) When are undercover and confidential license plates used?

    (a) These plates are used for official business by government agencies or any state elected official.

    (b) For the personal security of any other public officer, or public employee, for use on an unmarked publicly owned or controlled vehicle for the conduct of business for the period of time required.

    (4) How are undercover and confidential vehicles registered?

    (a) An undercover license plate record will show fictitious names and addresses on all department records subject to public disclosure.

  7. Dear Paul,

    It is quite clear that you are only stating things you have observed in your experience. And it is unfortunate if you have had bad experiences with Law Enforcement Agencies. However, it does seem like you may not have any real insight into the job of a LEO, because there are several reasons why a LEO would zoom by you without his lights on. Was he on your right or left? Was traffic riding the left lanes (even though the law states that right lanes should be used for passing). LEOs are trained to assess the situation and decide the safest possible way to do something (assisting another officer in trouble, domestic violence call, etc.) Lights and sirens are often used, but not necessarily every single time. LEOs are also human, which means, that they will make mistakes, but it is rare that an officer will discharge his weapon knowing that innocent people are behind the target he is shooting at. It is all part of training and a tricky balance of doing your job, protecting the public, and officer safety as well.

    Look at the statistics. How many LEO have crashed into an innocent driver compared to drunk drives, civilian speeders, etc. It has happened, but I do not worry about an LEO crashing into me when I am driving. Do you, really? Or do the civilian vehicles speeding past you, driving recklessly, or under the influence seem to pose a more realistic threat.

    They also have the privilege to drive in the manner they do because they are trained to drive this way. It is part of their job. In order to patrol, they have to move faster than traffic, otherwise they would just hold up traffic (since everyone drives slow around a cop), and never move through traffic to look for violations, stolen vehicles, etc.

    FYI – State Patrol in Washington does not have a quota to meet in regards to how many tickets a trooper must write.

    I hope this helps, and I hope your future experiences are more positive with LEOs.

    • Yes, The Washington State Patrol does a required 10 stops per shift with the requirement to write 8 tickets and 2 warnings….you are mis informed…

  8. In general I respect all LEOs. However, there is something wrong with Officer Moon. I actually had a first hand experience getting ticketed by him. He was verbally abusive, exaggerate on the evidence. This guy I think has a problem at home that he’s brining to work. I wish him all the best Officer Moon. He is a danger to the community and bring a bad name to the LEOs. A disgrace!!!

  9. Just got a ticket from Officer Moon..

    He was driving an unmarked Dodge with the undercover confidential plates..

    He got me for speeding.. I was doing 68 in a 55 zone while trying to get out of the way of a fast moving car behind me.. Unfortunately it happened to be Moon.. Conveniently for him and the county coffers he managed to write me up for doing 75 in a 55, which of course because it’s 20 over is a higher ticket.. He seemed to be enjoying himself..

    The guy is a scum bag of the lowest order.. One day he will pull someone over who doubts he is a real cop and there will be trouble.. I know I wasn’t sure if he was a cop or not because he had those plates.. He gives real cops a bad name..
    I trust cops even less now..

  10. Apparently, a few of the people in this blog are “LEO”s being that they are trying to defend illegal actions of Trooper Moon and others who are getting the hardened criminals off the streets.

    I have no problem with most law enforcement organizations, but the WSP is a special one to say the least. They tend to hire individuals who act like they are above the law, and everyone…really everyone else are criminals. I routinely worked with these individuals who would always exceed the speed limit, then turn around and issue citations for going a few miles per hour over. Others, would call on duty while still sitting at their house. Others working in rural Washington would spend all of their time enforcing gaming laws at their favorite hunting spot instead of working the roads like they were hired for.

    This trend intrigued me, so I spent some time looking around the WSP website. Its fairly obvious in how their application is formulated that they only want inexperienced, non worldly, individuals who have NEVER committed a crime to work for them. This is a recipe for the ultimate in elitism…now lets these guys enforce the laws.

    Look at their drug use disqualifiers ..”No possession/usage of non-prescribed opiates/narcotics (e.g., heroin, morphine, etc)” Ooops..that Vicodin I took in high school, disqualified. “No possession/usage of marijuana or hashish over 15 times regardless of time frame.” Oops..you used marijuana 16 times in junior high school…can’t be a trooper.
    Officially, I don’t think the President could be a WSP trooper…

    This is an organization that NEEDS to be revamped based on CURRENT trends. They need to get out of the stone age and start hiring some good people who are less likely to break the laws they are paid to enforce.

  11. Well sounds like some people here are pretty bitter. Basically it’s all about the applicant pool, which is getting a little better now that people don’t have any other jobs to go to. If you think you could do that much better, I’m sure they’ll give you an interview if you qualify. It’s not like the rules are that strict. If you’ve used hard drugs, there simply isn’t room in law enforcement for people with those standards if they could even pass the written exam with the brain cells that have left. As far as MJ use, 5 years isn’t that tight of a rule. It’s not a fun job all the time, but it does take passion. I can’t think of too many people who like to start work at 7pm and get off at 5am, miss every family function and their kids growing up to arrest smelly argumentative drunks. Just remember when somebody hits your car on the freeway and flees the scene who will be there. Maybe they’ll take their sweet time too and take all afternoon to get there for you. I suggest doing the job for a while before judging those who undergo 6+ mo. of training and do it all the time.

  12. @ Anonymous

    I suggest doing the job for a while before judging those who undergo 6+ mo. of training and do it all the time.

    Would you also suggest engaging in illegal activity in the course of duty before judging it?

  13. The washington state patrol spies on disabled people in order to try to cut off their SS payments. They claim to be investigating mail fraud but they are really spying on the disabled. It is cruel to spy on people documented mental illness.

    • Cops are idiots who couldn’t get into college and now are forced into crappy job to make ends meet. Like any profession which does not have the public’s respect, they act like asses to try to make themselves feel better

  14. Moon sucks, I hope he is rotten in hell. Moon if you are reading this, what goes around comes around. I hope you are getting your Karma.

  15. Or how about the Washington State Trooper that has been taken to court numerous times because of unpaid debt, or had his truck repossessed and wages garnished because he didn’t make his payments. Or how about that same trooper being involved in multiple domestic violence incidents in his personal life, one of which he claims a woman tried to shoot him 3 times because of his multiple sex partners at the same time, yet the State Patrol seems to think that keeping this employee on the books, around the public, and carrying a gun is a good thing. Or better yet that same trooper severely abusing his children yet everyone seems to turn the other cheek because they are afraid of what he might do if they get involved. Yes, this trooper is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode and maybe that is what it is going to take for someone to finally realize that they should have done something before it was too late. The trooper referenced in all this is Trooper Sean L. Meenan #857. Check out all the court documents. Its all there. None of this is made up.

  16. I just went thru the WSP hiring process for being a Communication Officer (Dispatcher) and in my opinion it is a BIG Joke! Almost 30yrs ago, I was charged with Shoplifting and it was a BOGUS charge by a over amped Deputy moonlighting in the store. I never got a Shopping Cart and loaded my arm with some items bent over to pick up one last item and dropped the whole mess, I picked the items up and inadvertanly put some items in my big coat pocket, I put the items on the counter and paid for the items, as I was leaving the check out area, I reached in the same coat pocket and realized I hadn’t paid for those items I turned to the Cashier and this guy yanked me out the the checkstand area and stated come with him peacefully. I plead NOT GUILTY but the Court stated it was intent so Guilty as charged, with 1-yr Deferred sentence and went back to the court 14 months later and asked Court Clerk to remove from my record, she stated it would be done per the Judge. Guess What??? ” it wasn’t” (which I hear alot of the same stories). I marked down NO on ever been convicted of a Misdemeanor on the Pre-Qual application, but some of my Trooper friends said answer everything truthfully, so I did on the Background Questionaire, so I self admitted that I was Charged with a Misdemeanor. Why is it that the WSP can hold against you your past Criminal History even if it was Vacated/Expunged/Sealed, I think this is so wrong..
    I took the Test – PASSED “Scored Unusually High “quote-unquote”, I took the Interview and scored in the Top 2 and went to the Polygraph & Back Ground check appointment and was dumped for a ALMOST 30yr old Charge??? And have a spotless record except for Traffic Citations ever since… And ONE yes “1” Day sick in the past 20yrs… And why is it ok to use Pot up to 15 times OK, but not OK if 16 or more, as long as your not doing now or in the recent past??? And you pass a UA???
    I never put anyone in danger, as the guy working for WSP now with a DUI. Or the Trooper that was Hunting “Out of Season” oops they call that Poaching and Now the WSP are saying they are in need of Troopers and lowering the hiring age to 19-1/2yrs. If they didn’t think they were the GODS of LEO maybe they wouldn’t have problems hiring personnel. One question they should ask is if you have ever had Mental Issues and/or ever been Admitted to a Mental Facility-NOPE THEY DON’T!!! That was 4 months plus of my life I will never get back, what a waste of time??? And I really wanted to help my fellow Washingtonians and the public but that ain’t gonna happen…Really Frustrated they can hold something so minor against you forever, OH I forgot they are above the law, yeah thats it!!!

    • Lodnrat you have to fill out the forms to get old data deleted from your record…even if you were not charged or the charge went away due to deferment. The State Patrol keeps all old records unless you fill out the paperwork and tell them to delete it…if they do not you can take the State Patrol to court for failure to follow Washington State law….I had to go thru this same thing….you must keep the Court Order showing the charge went away and then you can get the NC (Non-convicted data deleted)…..they are NAZIs.

  17. Anonymous, There is even more hen that on #857, the amount of times he has been suspended, And still has a job. The female that pulled a gun on him, the gun was unloaded, no clip was in nor a bullet in the chamber. It was to get him out of her house before he killed her, she was being abused by him, and not for the first time, but he kept getting her back. She loved him, and could not get away from his grip. Sean L. Meenan is a disgrace to his uniform and should not be allowed to be With his kids with our supervision. People need to Speak out to WSP and let them know he is no worthy of the uniform!

  18. Looks like Trooper Sean Meenan hasn’t paid some more of his bills. Yet another civil suit/small claims was filed against him on 8/3/11 in Pierce County District court by SPRINGLEAF FINANCIAL SERVICES. This is the second suit civil suit for unpaid debt that he has had this year.

  19. As of 5/1/2011, Trooper Sean Meenan is delinquent on his Pierce County property taxes and the property is subject to distraint.

  20. Wow! Trooper Sean Meenan actually paid his taxes after 4 months delinquent. However, this doesn’t clear up the over $17,000 that he owes Ford Motor Credit for a repossessed truck or the thousands that the court records shows that he owes one of this ex-wives, or the thousands that the records show he owes in bad debt to other collections.

  21. New lien against Trooper Sean Meenan from the Department of Social and Health Services (Child Support?) for over $2,300 effective 10/05/2011.

  22. Amazed that Trooper Sean Meenan still has not paid his property taxes and his property is subject to distraint for the second time this year.

  23. Anyone who knows Trooper Meenan’s ex-wife knows why his life is a living hell. Truthfully anyone can suffer financial hardships, especially in this economy. But before you skewer this guy based on claims waged about his personal life, check out the record of Cathy Meenan. Truly a nutjob.

  24. Dear Terafied (which is spelled wrong)-

    Sean Meenan has more to be worried about than you know. I wish it was only one person or an ex-wife or two that he could pin these posts on but I’m actually appalled by the short sightedness. I encourage everyone to look up the facts about all public information that is available on this Washington State Trooper.

    Fact 1:
    Had a former girlfriend Deana Walker arrested for attempted murder back in June 2010. The story is actually quite interesting as is starts with him stating that he drank and had sex with her starting at 10:00am for 3 hours. Prosecutor had to seriously reduce charges that included zero jail time for Deana based the credibility of the victim(Trooper Sean L Meenan) as there were no other credible witnesses. This was stated right in PUBLIC documentation. Deana lost her job, child for a short period of time and thousands of dollars as a result of a cop abusing his power and making false claims. Possible lawsuit is in the works….state trooper Sean Meenan still goes unpunished.

    Fact 2:
    Truthfully, anyone CAN sustain financial hardship but not over a continuous basis of years and years and still blame the economy. Come on. From the public records I see Ford Motors, several Pay Day Loans, Credit Card companies and some sort of Pod Storage along with issues paying property taxes in the past 10 years. From my count, he basically owes somewhere in the vicinity of $30 to $40K to creditors that he has stolen from and been unable to pay.

    Fact 3:
    Involved in ongoing custody battles with all of his children (4 from two different marriages). These public document make a wide range of claims but given the track record and credibility of WSP Sean Meenan that is now in question…I know who I’m believing. From what I see, in order for a claim to be “libelous” it needs to be proven false. From what I read in these cases, emotional abuse is a major player along with some physical abuse that was alleged. There is nothing libelous in those statements and again all public documentation for others to read. Anyone watching out for these children??? I for sure hope so…

    Fact 4:
    Just recently helped file an assault against his oldest daughters uncle for alleged physical abuse of her during an argument which Sean Meenan appeared to play no part in. Not sure if he is illegally housing a minor against the mother’s wishes but it wouldn’t surprise me. Guaranteed that all charges will be dropped again due to the constant abuse of power and credibility issues at hand with Sean Meenan.

    Fact 5:
    Had his second ex-wife Cathy Meenan arrested for allegedly scratching his face during an argument 7 to 8 years ago. Case was continued without finding. She was not charged by the prosecutor, handful of community service hours, small fine and then dismissed. This actually sounds like a big joke. I’m not sure any “man” would go through having a girl arrested for a scratch but that is apparently what this guy does. Regardless, based off the “credibility of the victim” it was probably WAY over exaggerated.

    I encourage all research done on this true in-justice. The keys even lie in the public records which are assessable to anyone. If his life is hell, imagine those around him…like his children….

    Will be posting all Case Numbers and website address for those interested.

  25. In all do fairness, an update must be posted to reflect that Trooper Sean Meenan finally paid his delinquent taxes. 3 to 4 months delinquent seems to be the norm with him with this taxes. I wonder when he will clear up the court ordered fines that he owes one of his ex wives. Or the thousands of dollars that he still owes for a truck that was repossessed 6-7 years ago. Financial hardships come and go, but this guy never seems to be able to get his act together when it comes to finances. Constantly amazed that the Washington State Patrol still allows this guy to wear a badge. He would NEVER get hired with ANY law enforcement agency with his financial history or personal life scandles. Not to mention that the Prosecutor’s Office has publically stated in a signed Prosecutor’s Statement related to Cause No. 10-1-02512-1 on June 27, 2011 that Trooper Sean Meenan (the “victim” in this cause) has credibility issues. What a disgrace…

  26. As a non biased party hired to perform private investigations, there appears to be a lot of different people against Trooper Meenan in these posts. Former “girlfriends”, two ex-wives, uncle, most likely their family and friends, other private investigators, prosecutors, collection companies, businesses etc.

    From the documents I have downloaded, these appear to be very accurate statements made against Tooper Sean Meenan. There appears to be a trail of history undeniable and very concerning to the community.

    The most concerning is the document published by the prosecutor defending Trooper Meenan in an “alleged” assault that clearly calls into question is credibility. Based off this document alone, any arrests, traffic tickets, etc. could be seriously be challenged.

  27. “Terafied” – I have reviewed the documents and nowhere does it show or imply that Trooper Meenan’s exwife is a “nutjob” as you have so kindly labled her. However, the Guardian Ad Litem report does validate her claims of concern for the safety and welfare of her children. Maybe you should really look at the public information that is out there on this guy and not be calling silly childish names as though you are in the schoolyard.

  28. Sad to hear this is what has become of Sean – whether true or not or to what degree. We dated many years ago and this is not the person I remember him to be. It appears something happened and he needs help – and help to those around him as well. I can only hope for the best for them all. I do agree that he should probably not be working with the public until the issues are resolved – maybe an internal position for him, as we all need an income.

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