While I spend most of my time downtown at the Criminal (In)justice Center, I still handle the occasional traffic ticket in Harris County. One of the more bizarre places I practice is the bedroom community of Spring Valley. For those of you who don't know, Spring Valley is one of several (white) enclaves in the Spring Branch area surrounded the City of Houston.
Spring Valley is located north of the Katy Freeway between Bingle and Blalock. For those of you who aren't familiar with Spring Branch, I-10 serves as something of a dividing line (the old railroad tracks) between the wealthier, whiter areas (south) and the poorer, browner areas (north).
Everytime I walk into the Spring Valley Municipal Court I'm tempted to ask the assembled citizens how many of them live in Spring Valley -- because, by and large, the huddled masses are overwhelmingly Hispanic. These are the folks who provide services for the citizens of Spring Valley -- lawn care, day care, food -- who have to drive up Bingle or across Westview without the "SV" sticker on the back of their cars.
The Spring Valley police prey on these ordinary folk because the cops know these folks are more likely to be driving without a driver's license or insurance and provide another income source for the city.
Here's a true story -- a couple of years ago some friends of ours (who had just moved to Texas) were driving home after dark. One of Spring Valley's finest saw the Utah license plate (and no "SV" sticker) and followed them home. The officer parked behind them in their driveway and began questioning the husband about the Utah plates. My friend told the officer he had the Texas plates in the house and would put them on the next morning -- the officer made him do it right then and there. He then issued a warning and told my friend to get an "SV" sticker and put it on his car.