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Topeka Cop Tickets Teen for Recording him Speeding

At 17 years of age, Addison Mikkelson is on a mission to keep police in Topeka, Kansas honest.

But the more he tries, the more he realizes he has his work cut out for him.

As you may remember, Mikkelson was arrested for jaywalking in December when he crossed the street to try and video record cops at a convenience station.

Then in January, he was confronted by police officer who used every line in the book to try to keep him from video recording a security checkpoint in the state’s capitol building.

His latest run-in involves him video recording a Topeka police officer who had been speeding ten miles over the speed limit, then didn’t use his turn signal and didn’t come to a complete stop at a stop sign.

When the cop, whose last name is Cartmill,  noticed Mikkelson video recording from his car, he gave him two citations; one for “inattentive driving,” another for having a “TV screen in view of the driver.”

In this case, the television screen was his camera screen.

Mikkelson says the citation is not legible, so he is unable to make out the actual statute numbers, but below is a state statute regarding the television screen violation, which part of it says it was repealed while another part says it was amended, so I’m going to assume the section that is crossed out was repealed to be amended by the section in italics.

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And while there doesn’t seem to be a state statute regarding inattentive driving, there is a Topeka city code that addresses it

10.20.100 Inattentive, negligent or unsafe driving.

(a) Inattentive Driving. Every driver shall remain alert and give full attention to the safe operation of his vehicle while it is in motion, and any driver who does not shall be in violation of this subsection.

(b) Negligent Driving. No driver, while operating or attempting to operate his vehicle, shall engage in any activity or do any act which interferes with the safe control of his vehicle.

(c) Unsafe Driving. No person shall operate or halt any vehicle in such a manner as to indicate a careless or heedless disregard for the rights or safety of others, or in such a manner as to endanger, or be likely to endanger, any person or property. (Ord. 17421 § 2, 10-19-99. Code 1995 § 142-192.)

And if you look through both links, you will violations for speeding, not using a turn signal and failing to come to a complete stop, violations committed by Cartmill, which Mikkelson captured on his camera.

And while I haven’t been able to confirm if Topeka police officers use laptops in their cars like so many other police officers from around the country do, I did come across a picture of a Lawrence police officer, also in Kansas, using these devices, which would make them in violation of the law. The second picture shows a Topeka police officer who seems to have the platform for a laptop in her car.

But as we are reminded time after time, cops are above the law.

Call the Topeka Police Department at (785) 368-9551.

UPDATED: Mikkelson has since confirmed that Topeka police officers do use the laptops in their cars.

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About Carlos Miller

Carlos Miller is founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, which began as a one-man blog in 2007 to document his trial after he was arrested for photographing police during a journalistic assignment. He is also the author of The Citizen Journalist's Photography Handbook, which can be purchased through Amazon.