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DelDOT Rips Down 60-Year-Old Basketball Goal UPDATED

Update: DelawareOnline identifies the lying woman in the video as Lt. Jennifer Griffin, a Delaware State Trooper.  According to the Delaware State Police website, a Lt. Jennifer Griffin is also the Assistant OIC of the DSP Honor Guard. Assuming this is the same woman, she ought to be relieved of that prestigious position.  After all, she apparently couldn’t even be bothered to change out out of her “FBI” sweatsuit before starting her morning lying to homeowners and ripping down basketball goals.

First, here’s the video if you haven’t seen it.  (Hat Tip to Hot Air for the link)

Now for the background:  As you probably gathered from the video, one of the grouchy neighbors, who apparently hates kids playing basketball, called DelDOT to anonymously report eight code infractions.  DelDOT sent out certified letters informing homeowners of the infractions.  Then, they hurried out with a police escort, lied to the homeowner, and ripped down his 60-year-old basketball goal.  Meanwhile, McCafferty (the man in the video) is well on his way to becoming the next “Joe the Plumber.”

There are a number of problems with the events in this video.  According to the Associated Press, “John McCafferty, 46, said the pole has been on the property since the 1950s, long before the Clear Zone law was enacted, and that he believes it is exempted from the law.”  After researching the statute, I agree with him. The law in play is Delaware Title 17 § 525 which reads in part:

(a) The Department is authorized to maintain clear zones within the rights-of-way under its jurisdiction. In maintaining these clear zones, the Department shall have the immediate authority to remove artificial obstructions placed therein, including, but not limited to, nonofficial signs, poles, mailboxes not placed in conformance with Departmental regulation, or other hazards to safe passage. ….

(b) As used in this chapter, the term “clear zone” has the following meanings: ….

a. Seven feet perpendicular to the pavement edge, or

b. If there is a sidewalk adjacent to the street, the sidewalk edge further from the street.

Based only on a quick overview of the statute, the basketball goal’s placement seems to violate the law.  However, section 525 didn’t exist until it was created by House Bill 234 which was approved in June, 1998, nearly 50 years after the basketball goal was installed.  As such, the basketball goal should be grandfathered in under the building codes that existed when it was installed, and should not be subject to DelDOT’s “clear zone” authority (which didn’t yet exist).  In fact, this “grandfathering in” is the often the reason developers choose not to tear down outdated signs as the new code would prohibit a replacement.  On lakefront property, one can find examples of homeowners who conduct a piecemeal “renovation” of their dock in order to remain exempt from more strict surface coverage restrictions.

Even if the law did allow DelDOT to remove the basketball pole, the conduct of the officers was unacceptable.  McCafferty is told by both the female in the sweatshirt, (it’s unclear to me which agency exactly she is with), and an officer just off screen that he will be allowed to keep his basketball goal after it is removed.  Shortly thereafter, DelDOT hauls off the basketball goal and the same woman who just said, “they’ve asked people if they’ve wanted them; they’ll lay it in your driveway” tells him, “No, all of them have gone,” and he can come and pick it up later.  She then threatens to have him arrested if he doesn’t go inside as if she didn’t know lying to someone’s face and driving off with their property might upset them.

Under the law, anything removed by DelDOT is supposed to be held until all fines are paid.  The problem here isn’t the actions of the DelDOT employees who seized the pole, but rather, that the officers all knew that this was the law, and lied to the homeowner anyway.  The man is clearly frustrated by the “seizing” of his basketball goal, but he doesn’t become visibly enraged until her lie is revealed.  Even worse, based on his responses, it appears that none of the officers will even admit to the lie.  Are they really that arrogant?  With a video camera on site, they ought to have known the lie was caught on tape.

Finally, this is an excellent example of excess regulation.  With so many laws on the books, enforcement becomes impossible.  As such, there is only selective enforcement, in this case based on an anonymous tip-line.  The law becomes a tool used by grouchy neighbors to execute what amounts to legal harassment on their neighbors.  Part of me hopes that those who lost their basketball goals will start reporting every possible code infraction on the grouchy neighbor’s property.  Another part of me hopes that Delaware will start to pare back its regulations until only those that are necessary remain, but that’s probably wishful thinking on my part.

Read more in Liberalism, Property Rights.

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  • Hey everyone here is the phone # and address to complain about this rude and disrespectful power hungry cop known as Lt Jennifer Griffin

    By Phone

    Please call 302.739.5990

    By Mail

    Delaware State Police

    Office of Professional Responsibility

    P.O. Box 430

    Dover, DE 19903-0430

    Attn: Captain? Thomas Logan

  • Hey everyone here is the phone # and address to complain about this rude and disrespectful power hungry cop known as Lt Jennifer Griffin

    By Phone

    Please call 302.739.5990

    By Mail

    Delaware State Police

    Office of Professional Responsibility

    P.O. Box 430

    Dover, DE 19903-0430

    Attn: Captain? Thomas Logan

  • Just enough rope to hang herself with…

  • Just enough rope to hang herself with…

  • this bitch isnt wearing a state uniform let alone a uniform, looks like she just got up, she has know right to wear a state uniform, and shes out of her jerisdiction. wow all state and federal law inforement have to wear a uniform unless there under cover or somthing like that, or have somthing to identifie them, i think shes a fake….i didnt fight for freedom to see a stuck up lying power hungry cunt try to tell people to they dont have rights. it was on there propody, if i remember they need to get approvle let alone a permit to rip down that mans pole.

  • this bitch isnt wearing a state uniform let alone a uniform, looks like she just got up, she has know right to wear a state uniform, and shes out of her jerisdiction. wow all state and federal law inforement have to wear a uniform unless there under cover or somthing like that, or have somthing to identifie them, i think shes a fake….i didnt fight for freedom to see a stuck up lying power hungry cunt try to tell people to they dont have rights. it was on there propody, if i remember they need to get approvle let alone a permit to rip down that mans pole.

  • Perhaps people should find out where Lt. Jennifer Griffin lives and anonymously report every possible infraction at her home. That seems far more fitting than reporting the grouchy neighbor’s infractions.

  • Perhaps people should find out where Lt. Jennifer Griffin lives and anonymously report every possible infraction at her home. That seems far more fitting than reporting the grouchy neighbor’s infractions.

  • Any emails or phone calls should refer to the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics:

    “I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all; maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn or ridicule; develop self-restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed in both my personal and official life,…”

  • Any emails or phone calls should refer to the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics:

    “I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all; maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn or ridicule; develop self-restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed in both my personal and official life,…”

  • The removal of the pole is not the problem I have. The abuse of power the officer attempted to use and the blatant lie she told in an attempt to appease the citizen is the problem.

  • The removal of the pole is not the problem I have. The abuse of power the officer attempted to use and the blatant lie she told in an attempt to appease the citizen is the problem.

  • You can’t ‘grandfather’ a public safety hazard.
    Clear Zones are public safety zones; they are not about his house’s building standards; they are apparently not even on his actual property in this story.
    And I don’t know about Delaware specifically, but since the house has changed ownership, he might not even have ‘grandfather’ rights — many laws require bringing a property up to compliance in order to be sold.
    As far as the ‘lie’ there is a standard of managing the situation that permits officers in many situations to handle a potentially violent individual (like an individual holding a 3-foot stick).
    But even after all those issues, why is this being treated as an issue of personal damage and destruction? The guy could still win his case, get his hoop, and be allowed to install it someplace where he would be happy.
    But at the end, I second the suggestion that no community needs the kinds of ‘safety’ laws that are being passed over the last few decades, where minor and specific acts are being treated like valid activities for our police. Seat belts, helmets, sidewalk markings — this isn’t what a police force is meant to do.

    • Building codes like this are frequently “grandfathered in.” In fact, a local business lost their sign after it was destroyed during a storm. The law had changed since the original was installed, and to put the same sign up (after it was destroyed) would have been illegal (too close to the roadway). If Delaware doesn’t want to allow pre-existing structures to remain, that’s their prerogative, but it still doesn’t justify the officer’s behavior.

      With regards to the lie, there is a difference between lying or other deception in the course of an investigation, and lying about a statute. Further, there is nothing to suggest this man is “violent.” (FYI: The “stick” is a cane). I wouldn’t even classify him as angry until after the lie is exposed. Certainly he’s frustrated, but he was cooperating with their requests.

      With regards to the property question, yes, he can retrieve the hoop if he pays the fines. However, there’s no guarantee the pole hasn’t already been destroyed—or severely damaged—by the rough handling during transit. Further, if the law doesn’t apply, then his property has been removed unlawfully and the damage may be irreversible as he might not be allowed to install a replacement in the same location. Finally, recovery of the pole—which had been installed there for 60 years—and reinstallation may bear significant cost for the family. Basketball goals are not easy to transport. He can’t just throw it in the back of the minivan and drive home.

    • Actually, the net in and of itself isnt the hazard. The law clearly gives Delaware DOT jurisdiction to remove any item that “presents a hazard to motorists”. The intention, obviously would be to remove, say, a tree or other structure that hung over a roadway and presented a hazard to tall vehicals or the like. In this case, its not the net, but rather the kids who present the hazard. So the DOT actually lacks a reason to remove the net.

      And btw, the woman in the sweatshirt isnt police. IMHO, until you show a badge, your not police. All she does is flash a gun btw.

  • You can’t ‘grandfather’ a public safety hazard.
    Clear Zones are public safety zones; they are not about his house’s building standards; they are apparently not even on his actual property in this story.
    And I don’t know about Delaware specifically, but since the house has changed ownership, he might not even have ‘grandfather’ rights — many laws require bringing a property up to compliance in order to be sold.
    As far as the ‘lie’ there is a standard of managing the situation that permits officers in many situations to handle a potentially violent individual (like an individual holding a 3-foot stick).
    But even after all those issues, why is this being treated as an issue of personal damage and destruction? The guy could still win his case, get his hoop, and be allowed to install it someplace where he would be happy.
    But at the end, I second the suggestion that no community needs the kinds of ‘safety’ laws that are being passed over the last few decades, where minor and specific acts are being treated like valid activities for our police. Seat belts, helmets, sidewalk markings — this isn’t what a police force is meant to do.

    • Building codes like this are frequently “grandfathered in.” In fact, a local business lost their sign after it was destroyed during a storm. The law had changed since the original was installed, and to put the same sign up (after it was destroyed) would have been illegal (too close to the roadway). If Delaware doesn’t want to allow pre-existing structures to remain, that’s their prerogative, but it still doesn’t justify the officer’s behavior.

      With regards to the lie, there is a difference between lying or other deception in the course of an investigation, and lying about a statute. Further, there is nothing to suggest this man is “violent.” (FYI: The “stick” is a cane). I wouldn’t even classify him as angry until after the lie is exposed. Certainly he’s frustrated, but he was cooperating with their requests.

      With regards to the property question, yes, he can retrieve the hoop if he pays the fines. However, there’s no guarantee the pole hasn’t already been destroyed—or severely damaged—by the rough handling during transit. Further, if the law doesn’t apply, then his property has been removed unlawfully and the damage may be irreversible as he might not be allowed to install a replacement in the same location. Finally, recovery of the pole—which had been installed there for 60 years—and reinstallation may bear significant cost for the family. Basketball goals are not easy to transport. He can’t just throw it in the back of the minivan and drive home.

    • Actually, the net in and of itself isnt the hazard. The law clearly gives Delaware DOT jurisdiction to remove any item that “presents a hazard to motorists”. The intention, obviously would be to remove, say, a tree or other structure that hung over a roadway and presented a hazard to tall vehicals or the like. In this case, its not the net, but rather the kids who present the hazard. So the DOT actually lacks a reason to remove the net.

      And btw, the woman in the sweatshirt isnt police. IMHO, until you show a badge, your not police. All she does is flash a gun btw.

  • This type of Jack-Booted Thuggery, is exactly why more and more people refuse to trust the police. How sad is it when the police and the State of Delaware DOT, refuse to respond to the letters of the citizenry and state legislators while pulling a stunt like this. And even more sad is the fact that he will not get his hoop and pole replaced for free by these thugs. Just disgusting.

  • This type of Jack-Booted Thuggery, is exactly why more and more people refuse to trust the police. How sad is it when the police and the State of Delaware DOT, refuse to respond to the letters of the citizenry and state legislators while pulling a stunt like this. And even more sad is the fact that he will not get his hoop and pole replaced for free by these thugs. Just disgusting.

  • First, there is no grandfather clause in the law so that would not apply. Second, the pole has not been there as long as the guy claims. Both the pole and backboard are of a much more modern design and construction. I’d believe 25 to 30 years at the most. The house isn’t that old either, and the daughter is younger than 10. Who is really lying here?

  • First, there is no grandfather clause in the law so that would not apply. Second, the pole has not been there as long as the guy claims. Both the pole and backboard are of a much more modern design and construction. I’d believe 25 to 30 years at the most. The house isn’t that old either, and the daughter is younger than 10. Who is really lying here?

    • Mobile_player – just SHUT up.