Tense New England Police Encounter Confirms National Police ID Database

Yves here. Please welcome Diligens, who has a great deal of experience in the relationship of government to the financial services industry.

You’ll notice this police encounter, relative to what was at stake, has the officer quickly escalating and making an illegal demand, basically because he can. And consider the various factors that led to different results than in other exchanges with the police.

By Diligens, a member of the Establishment not loyal to his class

I shared with Yves a story about a recent experience about an encounter with the police a few days ago that she thought was worth relating. I am white, which unfortunately is a fact I need to add, since that has become relevant in interpreting any interaction with police.

My family and I spent several days around Christmas with my brother and his family. He lives on Cape Cod and and has prominence akin to that of a school principal, meaning a large portion of the local population knows who he is and, as far as I can tell, likes him.

The weather got very cold right after Christmas, with lows in the single digits Fahrenheit. It’s hard to get much exercise outside in this kind of weather, but a couple of days ago, I woke up early and decided to walk a few miles to the beach and back. Luckily, I had packed my fancy, “rich guy” cold weather gear – a GoreTex ski jacket and ski pants. So I bundled up and set off.

My route to the shore took me through an industrial park, which certainly wasn’t the most pedestrian-friendly path (no sidewalk, minimal landscaping). On my return through it, I passed a medical lab and saw parked in front a car that I had a vague interest in (a new Subaru station wagon; a friend had urged me to consider a Subaru as a replacement for our workhorse family car).

I stopped to look at it from several feet away and, within 30 seconds, a burly guy came sprinting through the lab’s front door demanding to know why I was there. I asked him if the car was his and he said yes. We chatted for a few moments, and he seemed to relax. I wished him a good day and continued on my way.

I had walked another half mile when I saw a police car approaching from the opposite direction. As it got near me, moving very slowly, it pushed its nose off the road, blocking my path. Immediately, I knew that I was about to have an “encounter” with the police.

Several thoughts immediately sprung to mind. First, I have seen the “Never Talk to the Police” YouTube video, which Yves has discussed. So I was determined to be very careful about what I said. Second, I’ve seen many videos of civilian encounters with the police, so I thought I understood how citizens get bullied or tricked into surrendering their rights. Third, I recognized that citizens get killed far too often because they aren’t able to keep the emotional component of the encounter from spinning out of control, or they just make the mistake of reaching into their pocket without permission and end up getting shot. So I was determined to be calm and careful.

The cop quickly jumped out of his SUV and with no greeting or preliminaries stated his demand, “I need to see some ID.”

I responded, “Why?”

“I just need to see some ID. Just help me out here.”

At this moment, I was reflecting on the fact that I was unsure about whether Massachusetts has a “stop and ID” law requiring citizens to identify themselves when the police have a reasonable suspicion that a person may have committed a crime (I don’t live in Massachusetts). But I was fairly certain that even states with “stop and ID” laws require probable cause. By the way, I later learned that there is no “stop and ID” law in Massachusetts.

Me. “I think you need some kind of probable cause belief that I have committed a crime to force me to show ID.”

Cop, dripping with sarcasm. “Oh, you’re one of those kind of people. I’ll arrest you right now, and we’ll go down to the station. You’ll be there all day, and you’ll have to show me ID.”

In this moment, I realized the fatal weakness in the advice civil libertarians give about standing up for your rights with the police. I do a lot of negotiation as part of my professional life, and I’ve learned that it’s very difficult to hold a position if you can’t see it through to the end. In real life, bluffing rarely works. If you don’t have the cards, you seldom win the hand.

So in that instant, it became clear to me, you can only resist the “show your papers” demand of the state if you are willing to play your hand all the way through, which means accepting the ride to jail in handcuffs and the possibility that, if the timing works against you, especially in a rural location, it could be multiple days before you appear before a judge, in the meantime languishing in jail.

Hoping I might salvage the situation, I asked, “Am I being detained?”

The cop, knowing that he held all of the cards, escalated step-wise, “Turn around. Hands on the [police car] hood. I’m going to pat you down for weapons.”

The message was clear: he was not going to accept losing in this encounter. He frisked me, pausing on the spare phone battery brick in my pocket, demanding that I take it out and show him. He also noticed that the top snap of my ski pants was undone and, keying off that, asked, “Did you take a piss? It’s pretty cold out here to do that.”

I definitely had not, but saw where this inquiry was going. “What, you’re trying to get me to admit to public urination so that you can arrest me for that?”

“I don’t care. Piss wherever you want.” He claimed.

Finding no contraband, the cop confronted me again, “Are you going to give me your ID or do you want to be arrested?”

In that moment, my thought was, “Cops arrest people all the time even when they know the arrest is not legal. I have to consider this threat credible.” Even if I filed a civil suit for false arrest and they ended up settling it for $25,000 or more, I think the local police very well might just view that as the cost of maintaining their ability to successfully intimidate people into coughing up their ID without the slightest probable cause.

So I asked his permission to reach into my pocket and coughed up my ID.

He radioed his dispatcher with my driver’s license information, and I was very surprised by how quickly the dispatcher came back with my full home address in another state and the key phrase, the real reason for the whole encounter, “No warrants.”

So now I know that there is a national driver’s license/arrest warrant database that the police access. All of the stories about how we don’t have national ID cards in the U.S. for reasons of decentralized federalism – that’s all theater. It may have been true before 9/11, but it makes sense that the hundreds of billions that Homeland Security has spent since then, among other things, created a de facto national ID database. Law enforcement avoids talking about it, presumably because they know it would upset a lot of people on both the left and right.

Having heard the magic “no warrants” phrase, the cop changed his tone and became friendly.

Sounding genuinely interested, he asked, “Why wouldn’t you give me your ID? I could tell you didn’t have any warrants.”

Me: “What do you mean you could tell?”

The cop: “Look at you. You’re expensively attired [my GoreTex gear, I guess]. You’re well spoken. You’re clearly a professional. People like you never have warrants.”

Unspoken, but clearly part of what he was conveying was, “Someone like you would never risk arrest. You had no cards in this encounter. It just took you a minute to figure that out.”

Me: “The reason I objected to giving you ID is that, philosophically, I don’t think it’s right that the police go around demanding that people produce ID just so that they can sweep the streets of people with outstanding warrants.”

The cop: “That’s not why we ask. Someone called and said you were acting suspiciously.”

Me: “How was knowing my ID going to tell you whether I had committed a crime?”

He didn’t answer that question, and I was genuinely perplexed by his denial that the larger point of “stop and ID” is to sweep the streets of people with arrest warrants. He seemed actually sincere, and I wondered whether he could be so lacking in self-awareness.

At that moment, a second police car pulled up, the “back-up” for their encounter with the weird guy out walking in an industrial park on a 15 degree day.

Maybe I’m a patsy, and partly I was motivated by not wanting to hurt my brother’s standing in the community, but I offered my hand to the cop, wished him well, and we parted.

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191 comments

  1. fresno dan

    Cop, dripping with sarcasm. “Oh, you’re one of those kind of people. I’ll arrest you right now, and we’ll go down to the station. You’ll be there all day, and you’ll have to show me ID.”

    Let me fix it for you:

    Cop, dripping with sarcasm. “Oh, you’re one of those kind of people. I’ll shoot you dead right now, and I’ll say I was in fear for my life. You’ll be dead all day, and every day there after, and then I’ll look at your ID.”

    Reply
    1. Tomonthebeach

      Psychologically speaking, the arrogant power projection in this tale is likely how many untrained law enforcement officers (as opposed to peace officers) reassure themselves that they are maximizing their personal safety.

      As a junior Navy officer in the early 70’s, I went through shore patrol training so I could occasionally supervise military police. Maintaining perceived power was emphasized as a safety shield to help ensure control of a situation. Failing words, we were taught various ways to get people’s attention and maintain control. We rarely carried side arms, but slamming a nightstick on a bar room table full of half-drunk sailors usually achieves undivided attention and has an amazingly sobering effect – not unlike the threat to arrest a 70-year old man hiking in the snow who refuses a simple, albeit illegal, request from a policeman.

      I fault the post-Nixon Republican Party’s emphasis on Law-n-Order as the solution to most social ills as the basic reason that many people legitimately fear encounters with the police. Thus, the USA has transformed most police from peace officers into law-enforcement officers. In a bygone era the police existed to preserve the peace of the community. In my town, we have only peace officers; and police violence – even arrests – are few.

      Reply
      1. Mike

        Tomonthebeach, unfortunately we have to amend your statement to include the fact that the Democrats, who could have stood against the obviously anti-citizen laws passed during those days, decided to fall in line, with their fear of another McGovern-style intra-party disturbance fresh in mind.

        Your town sounds nice, but the advance to military preparation among many urban police forces guarantees the spread of such planning, especially as corruption and top-level criminality becomes more open and brazen. Enjoy it while you can

        Reply
  2. bassmule

    The truly frightening part is that the cop still has no understanding that what he has done is wrong. Don’t these guys get any training?

    Reply
    1. ger

      Yes they get training. It appears it was well followed in this narrative. It is a form of hegemony …. the projection of power over you and I.

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      Somebody explained that, and the reason “training” as a response to misbehavior is a con:
      They laugh at the training, if it differs from their own habits and practices (institutional culture). Training is not an exercise of power; firing is.

      However, he may have been doing just as he was trained.

      Reply
  3. Don Midwest USA

    How many times I think about what would it be like to be poor and/or brown.

    The police can tell that I am a well off, over 70 year white male, occasionally dressed in my handyman clothes, but probably not a danger to society.

    I have copies of the short ACLU handbook about what to do when stopped by the police.

    I do not have it ready for the kind of dialogue that the author of this article used in his encounter and I do not have the need to protect the reputation of anyone in the family like he did.

    What would I do in a situation like the author of this article?

    In my internal dialogue, I fancy myself standing up for justice right on the spot.

    But I am not sure.

    Maybe what I need to do is to go to a protest, like a eco terrorist protecting animals, or an eco terrorist chaining myself to a pipe line construction project equipment, to get arrested, spend some time in jail, and get over never been arrested.

    Reply
  4. JCC

    I’ve had two similar encounters with police as an adult. Both were completely uncalled for and both were very tense situations. Neither resulted in an arrest or ticket. After relating one of these encounters to a lawyer and friend of mine he stated ” Always keep in mind, most of them are C level High School students with guns.”

    I’ve learned my lesson well. Avoid police like the plague.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      Your lawyer friend has a point about who they are. Well paid, too; they mostly make more than teachers.

      A high school teacher claimed that of her thuggish students, the smart ones become cops (and the dumb ones become criminals). Hence the “C-level.”

      Among cops, there’s also a class difference. Statistically, those with college degrees rarely kill people. That’s partly because of an up-front class difference, and partly because law enforcement training in universities is better than what the departments provide. Of course, they also tend to move up. The one I know became an FBI agent, a sizable step up, partly because he was bored as a patrolman. However, in talking with him you can hear the cop culture. He’s conscientious, so probably avoiding unethical behavior, but his POV is constrained.

      Still, if anyone is going to be a cop, I’d rather him. (I don’t like the “officer” formula – too honorific.) And we need to emphasize that precisely because of who most cops are, administration is key. They have to be constrained; if not, they’re little more than a well-armed street gang.

      Reply
  5. cm

    Maybe I’m a patsy, and partly I was motivated by not wanting to hurt my brother’s standing in the community, but I offered my hand to the cop, wished him well, and we parted.

    You really had to wish the cop well? Congrats.

    Yeah, you’re a patsy.

    But, wow, you really showed the world by writing a blog about it.

    Reply
    1. Joel

      Way to victim-blame. Did you even read what he wrote?

      Do you recommend that, while on a family vacation in a small town in a strange state, you get yourself arrested?

      Potentially having to travel back to that same state to defend yourself in court later?

      Embarrassing your hosts?

      Knowing how often the police in this country (and plenty of other countries) lie in police reports, file charges vengefully, commit torture, etc.?

      Oh, and your name mugshot might be on the internet forever.

      Reply
      1. Harry

        But if no one ever calls them on it they eill keep doing it.

        Im brown with a british accent. It makes the Police double-take every time.

        However it doesnt stop them from telling me to wipe the smile off my face or shut up when i ask a question.

        Its your country, you should invest a little effort in fixing it. Imagine if you were black?

        Reply
        1. Joel

          You can fight back without getting arrested at random.

          In that “fight” the other side holds most of the cards.

          And you might say, if we all stood up and got arrested…but most people *won’t* because they don’t see it as standing up, they’ve been conditioned by decades of propagandistic media (from Law and Order to the news) to think that cooperation with the police is not even something you’d question. So you’re not just up against the resources of the state but a large part of the community, including the media, as well.

          Getting arrested can be a useful civil disobedience tactic when it’s planned and you have lawyers at ready, but this? Come live in the real world.

          >>Imagine if you were black…that’s the DNC-approved answer to everything, isn’t it? So I just imagined that I were 50% likelier to be arrested in this type of encounter…OK, I just imagined that and I still don’t want to get arrested and have my life turned upside down, now what? Have you not been paying attention? Plenty of white people rotting in jail or in interminable judicial processes for crimes they didn’t commit or that shouldn’t have been crimes.

          Reply
          1. witters

            “Imagine if you were black…that’s the DNC-approved answer to everything, isn’t it? So I just imagined that I were 50% likelier to be arrested in this type of encounter…OK, I just imagined it”

            No you didn’t.

            Reply
          2. Amfortas the Hippie

            i agree. most times, “standing your ground” on the side of the road against an armed and entitled(and, tbh, likely fearful*) person…no matter the right and wrong…is a recipe for, at the very least,a bad evening.
            when I was 18, i answered the call of a female friend(good friend, but entirely platonic) who was 17 1/2. for this, i was labelled a pariah and an enemy of the people(her dad, it turned out, was half brother to the police chief, and was a town father). i was harried and harassed, hounded and hassled, for about 5 years, until i finally went into exile(where i remain).
            so i have….issues…with cops.
            i got pulled over in the county to our north a few years ago. young, wild eyed copper…didn’t like the looks of me…thought my kid’s empty car seat was evidence that i was a kidnapper(!!) and wanted to search the car.
            I let him while i bit my tongue.
            when i got home, i called the sheriff of that county…demanded to speak to him, lest i start writing letters…and chewed him a new one for hiring such hypersuspicious sociopaths…didn’t they teach them about citizenship and rights and stuff at cop skool?
            I told him that we spend an awful lot of money in his county, and therefore pay taxes that pay for his salary. ergo, i considered him my employee.
            to my astonishment, he stuttered and spluttered and apologised profusely and begged for my forgiveness.
            he agreed vehemently that long hair on a guy should not be a part of the profile any longer(it ain’t 1956), and that he prayed that i would reconsider removing my business.
            Never had another problem in that county(15 years).
            That’s one way of “standing up to the man”.

            However, there is strength in numbers.
            but during my youthful pariahood, I learned that nobody wants to believe that the cops are bad.
            the default assumption was that i was either being hysterical or that i had deserved it.
            This gets in the way of any kind of collective action to redress grievances.
            maybe we need a #metoo thing for cop magnets.

            (* cops are terrified, in my experience. look in their eyes.
            this is partly due to the “training” they get, wherein they learn that the world if full of “perps” out to get the unwary copper, and that the public consists of mostly criminals(this from my own sheriff, whom i have cultivated a relationship with). add to this that many of the younger cops seem to be recent veterans of Falujah, and it’s a recipe for crazy)

            Reply
            1. Plenue

              “cops are terrified, in my experience. look in their eyes.
              this is partly due to the “training” they get, wherein they learn that the world if full of “perps” out to get the unwary copper, and that the public consists of mostly criminals”

              Well, this is the kind of thing they’ve been trained on, going back to at least the 90s:

              https://youtu.be/p1sxc3V0lzQ?t=1901

              Reply
    2. Quade

      But, wow, you really showed the world by writing a blog about it.

      The post makes a couple really good points:

      1 – Cops can easily screw up your life and they know they can. So while it’s all fine and dandy to stand your ground, you’ll likely end up paying for it.

      2 – Sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut and obey. If this had been a different cop, the author could have been on the ground getting a beat down. White people get murdered by cops too, even though it’s rarer than brown people. Unless there’s video evidence, they’ll likely get away with it (“his hands went to his waist…”).

      These daily interactions with the cops, I’m inclined to obey. On the other hand, once they actually arrest you, it’s pointless to try to appease them any more.

      Reply
  6. Joel

    I was almost arrested here in Massachusetts two years ago under similar circumstances. In my case, the officer was convinced (wrongly) I had made a prank call because I was the only person in the area that the call had supposedly been traced to. If I can judge by his conversations on the radio, what saved me from arrest was that there apparently isn’t a law against what he thought I had done. Also this is Massachusetts, not a high-incarceration state, and the policy is generally not to arrest everyone under the sun on any pretext whatsoever.

    I had the same humiliating thought process the author here had: yes, I can refuse to cooperate, but it could get me arrested with my name and mugshot on the web forever (not sure if that happens in New England, actually). In the end, they took down my license information and I was kind of wondering for a week afterward if anything would come of it. He refused to provide any explanation of what was happening with my name and information.

    It was traumatic. I didn’t want to go back to the spot where it had happened for weeks afterward. When I finally did, I stood exactly where I had been standing during “the encounter” and told myself, “I’m reclaiming this spot” and now whenever I go back there I stop for a second for good luck.

    They do hold all the cards, as the author says. If your behavior ever falls outside the bounds of what a government employee considers normal, your life can be upended. Also, even short of an arrest, the threat of arrest is traumatic, and the threat doesn’t necessarily end for days after the encounter.

    Reply
    1. human

      Mrs human was once stopped by a squad car while walking home from the train station during a snow storm. She was told that it was dangerous to walk in the (empty) street as he rolled the window up and drove away.

      This was 15 years ago in Westchester county NY. Pathetic, except that her eyes were opened.

      Reply
  7. Joel

    Diligens, you want to make an impact? And this happened on Cape Code?

    Try to get this story onto tourism-related blogs/websites.

    “My walk to the beach on Cape Cod almost ended in jail.”

    Reply
    1. cat's paw

      Yeah, that is not a bad idea– hitting at them indirectly. I will add to what Joel also wrote further above. Perhaps others have noted this already but I don’t have time to read all the comments now. It’s a bad to questionable idea to try out a constitutional tête-à-tête in random encounters with cops. You have almost no cards to play. I’m not advocating rolling over and playing dead in the face of gross injustice, but prudence is usually the better part of valor when the power balance is so lopsided. For this kind of confrontation to work it would have to be coordinated, strategic, and targeted at pd’s in numbers.

      Otherwise you are likely to end up harassed, detained or worse– depending of course on the color of your skin, your car, your clothes, your accent, etcetera etcetera….

      Reply
  8. Wukchumni

    I’ve never been arrested, and all I have on my dossier is a handful of speeding tickets over 40 years of driving, largely a failure when it comes to crimes and misdemeanors i’m afraid…

    So, i’m in my early 20’s and a buddy and I go for a walk in a park in LA with his dog in tow, and parked his car at the end of a cul de sac, and upon returning to it and getting in, we hear a loudspeaker announce:

    “Don’t move, this is the LA Sheriff”

    And seconds later a policeman and policewoman emerge from their car kind of hidden away, and the first thing the gent says is “how much marijuana have you been smoking and where is the rest of it?” and we were as clean as a whistle that day, so it was like yeah whatever mentally at first, and then he tells us leave the vehicle and place our hands on the hood of the police cruiser as lady errant was watching over us, as he pored over our car looking for the goods.

    I was torn between extreme fear and laughing my arse off at the whole experience, when after emerging from our car, he shone a light in my orbits and barked “You have cocaine eyes!” and laughter went away rather quickly when I realized this oaf could have easily planted a bag of white powder in our car and ruined my life for all intents and purposes.

    Reply
  9. Jim Haygood

    Could happen to anybody … and it did:

    When Bob Dylan wandered into the yard of a home that had a “For Sale” sign on it, the home’s occupants became spooked by his appearance and called police with a report of an “eccentric-looking old man” in their yard, Long Branch NJ Police said.

    “We got a call for a suspicious person,” Officer Buble said. “It was pouring rain outside, and I was right around the corner so I responded. By that time he was walking down the street. I asked him what he was doing in the neighborhood and he said he was looking at a house for sale.”

    She asked for identification, but Dylan said he had none. She asked where he was staying and he said his tour buses were parked at some big hotel on the ocean.

    “OK Bob, why don’t you get in the car and we’ll drive to the hotel and go verify this?’ ” she said she told him. “I put him in the back of the car.”

    Her sergeant met her at the hotel parking lot. “I got out of my car and said, “Sarg, this guy says he’s Bob Dylan,'” Buble said. “He opened the car door, looked in, and said, ‘That’s not Bob Dylan.'”

    Eventually, the police were shown Dylan’s passport, which Buble said she looked at, saw the legend’s name, and rather sheepishly handed it back to Dylan’s manager.

    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/jersey-homeowner-calls-cops-bob-dylan/story?id=8331830

    Once I was confronted in my own driveway by a rookie local police officer who suddenly stopped on the street and demanded ID. After he called it in and determined no warrants were outstanding, he apologized saying he thought I looked like someone else.

    Read the local shopper papers: probably one out of three (my guess) random people on the street have warrants outstanding against them (the Ferguson effect, so to speak). Rounding them up is like shooting fish in a barrel for the cops, who — like predators — prefer to pick off the weak, the halt and the lame.

    Welcome to the police state …

    Reply
  10. Paul Harvey 0swald

    The headline “…Confirms National ID Database” is off the mark. What certainly happened is his credentials were keyed in to the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) but returned no hits. I first heard of the NCIC well in to the 1980s and Wikipedia says it started in 1967. So, a full national ID database accessible by the police? Not likely. A list of known or suspected trouble makers? Oh yeah, we have that list.

    Reply
    1. JTee

      Yes. In the early 90s when applying for/renewing a MA drivers license, I was required to prove that I was not someone with an outstanding arrest warrant in Arizona, a place I had never even visited. That individual had the same first/last name and same year of birth as me – but middle name was different, as was the day of birth. Didn’t matter – still had to prove my innocence by getting a letter from the police station in AZ.

      Reply
    2. Diligens

      Diligens here–the guy who wrote this piece.

      To be clear on what happened, the cop read my driver’s license number (and identified the state of issue) to his dispatcher and didn’t even say my name, which surprised me. She came back within a few seconds with my full name, home street address, and “no warrants” statement. So it seems like they were accessing a database that contains the full driver’s license records of every state, not just a database of “bad actor” arrest warrants.

      Reply
      1. Anon

        What likely occurred in your situation, is the police officer/dispatch was able to access a regional database of driver ‘s license. I live in Calif. and the police have access to DL’s for Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Arizona (neighboring states). It has an acronym but can’t recall it.

        That is not to say there is no national database (I’m certain there is.), just that local police officers don’t have access to that database.

        Aside: Speaking of “C” grade high schooler’s with guns, I was recently cited for riding a bike through a mid-block pedestrian signal. Took it to court. The “officer” stated to the Court that he had 14 years of experience on the police force, blah, blah blah. I stated to the Court that the citation has the wrong location, the wrong day of the week, and the wrong time (it was AM not PM), and the dash cam did not show me violating any traffic law. (Bailiff asks for decorum to stop the muffled court room laughter.)

        The Court reduced the citation fee by half (but it was still $140). The judicial system is stacked against you.

        Reply
        1. John Zelnicker

          @Anon, January 4, 2018 at 2:10 pm.

          There is indeed a national database of drivers licenses that the police can access. When I moved from Philadelphia to New Orleans in 1981, all I had to do was show my PA license to get one in Louisiana. Then I moved to Mobile (1986) and showing my LA license got me an Alabama license. However, when I went to renew my license 4 years later, some old speeding tickets from PA showed up and my renewal was denied until the tickets were paid.

          Sometime between 1986 and 1990 Alabama joined a national clearing house or database that connected all traffic violations to the person, no matter where they applied for a license. I’m sure that it has only become more extensive since then with the Real ID laws passed after 9/11.

          In fact, some drivers licenses are not acceptable for airline travel now because they don’t meet the Real ID requirements. This is recent, and IIRC states have some short time frame to fix their licenses to meet the Real ID requirements.

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Thanks for this. But notice how that drivers’ license ID database is apparently serving as the foundation for a national ID database. They weren’t searching for traffic violations. They searched for arrest warrants.

            I also wonder what they do with people who don’t have drivers’ licenses….not everyone drives, particularly lower income people who are the focus of undue police attention.

            Reply
  11. Bill H

    I’m probably going to get slammed for this, but I think civil liberties and personal rights are too important to be trivialized by the self importance of refusing to let a police officer see my drivers license. When you live in a true police state they don’t even demand to see your ID, they just grab you and throw you in the back of a car. Or they shoot you on sight.

    All this cop hating is in poor taste. When the bad guys, the real bad guys, are breaking in your house who are you going to call to save you? Is your ACLU lawyer going to come charging in and save your ass from a bunch of thugs with AK-47s? No, it’s the cops who you will call, and who will come and save your ass.

    Reply
      1. Anon

        Now, that’s a brilliant retort! Ask the man in Kansas what he thinks of the police. Oh, wait. He’s dead

        There is no doubt that we need the police. But Germany also has police, and they don’t kill 1000 people a year. The problem is all the “C” grade high schooler’s with guns!

        Reply
        1. Sid_finster

          Sounds like the terrorism justifications used for the National Security State.

          For the record, the state scares me more than all the terrorists ever to walk the Earth.

          Reply
    1. cm

      Pathetic. Read up on no-warrant kills. You are aware the police killed an innocent man just last week via swatting?

      The police literally get away with murder on a monthly (which may be generous) basis.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Over 60 UNARMED people killed by police per year, so at least 2 a month. You’re an optimist.

        And some of those “armed” had a kitchen knife or something similar.

        1100 deaths by cop per year, total, so about 3 a day.

        Police killed is far smaller.

        Reply
    2. Dan Lynch

      Bill H, the times I called cops for assistance — back when I did not know any better — the cops never did a damned thing to help me, and sometimes they took the perp’s side.
      .
      Now days the only reason I would call a cop would be to haul away the body if I were forced to shoot someone in self defense.
      .
      I can deal with the thugs who break into my house. I can’t deal with the cops because they are above the law.

      Reply
      1. TimH

        I’m curious, if you shot an armed someone who’d broken into your place, with clear evidence of self-defense, would you be arrested by default anyway?

        An arrest record is very bad in USA, even with no convictions.

        Can an arrest record be struck off?

        Reply
        1. Old Jake

          Not every state has stand your ground legislation in place. Many places you would have to provide evidence that your life was clearly in danger, else you would stand for manslaughter at least.

          Reply
        2. todde

          You can get arrests expunged from your record.

          However violent crimes that our felonies probably wouldn’t come off your record.

          Maybe in your specific case.

          Reply
      2. Amfortas the Hippie

        we had a neighbor who prowled around here at night, killing cats(even bugging us with our own baby monitor) for about 8 years until he was shipped off to the nuthouse.
        when we called the cops, showed them the crucified cats, the jimmied door locks, the bucket of dogsh*t in the yard, the footprints that matched those at the guys gates, the burned down chicken house(!) etc etc, they looked at us like we were on drugs.
        my mom and i were both nearly arrested for getting mad at the inaction.
        many times.
        I learned all about the Castle Doctrine as it exists in Texas. Turns out, after dark, I can shoot to kill any one on my place if I think they’re up to no good. So I hunted the guy…lay in wait in the bushes…set traps.
        I intended to disable him on my place and then call the law.
        But he was too slick(night vision scope on his rifle,special forces, etc), and I was cripple, and worn out from staying up all night guarding my family.
        as much as i despise Righty talking points, the one about the cops only coming after the crime is spot on. The defense of your person and effects is on you.
        I dislike guns, but I learned about them right quick when all that started.(as well as the anarchist’s cook book, which has a lot of antipersonnel gadgets one can deploy.(none of which worked on this guy, sadly))

        Reply
    3. dutch

      Please explain how stopping and frisking innocent citizens on a public street facilitates law enforcement response to a crime in progress?

      Reply
    4. Joel

      >>Is your ACLU lawyer going to come charging in and save your ass from a bunch of thugs with AK-47s?

      Where do you live, in the Thunderdome or Beyond the Thunderdome?

      Reply
      1. P Fitzsimon

        But what is more likely to happen a swat team descending on your home by mistake or a bunch of thugs descending on you armed with AK-47s?

        Reply
        1. johnnygl

          Trick question. The armed thugs ARE the SWAT guys. Just switch to AR-15s.

          Apparently, my congressional rep got ‘swatted’ once. So she’s really big on….get this…going after the prank callers. She had nothing to say about police procedures and culture.

          Reply
        2. Joel

          PF, Google it. In the US, “swatting” is not uncommon.

          Meanwhile, when have a gang of AK-47-armed men, outside a movie, ever descended on a home in the US?

          The US is remarkably safe from violent crime by random strangers. Most violence is domestic/gang/drug/fight between acquaintances/at a bar. I’ve lived in countries where there really is a non-zero risk of being whisked away by guys with AK-47s, but even there, or rather especially there, people know that arming yourself won’t work since the bad guys will still have the advantage in terms of surprise unless you plan on never leaving your home.

          Reply
    5. Jean

      Thanks to Obama signing the National Defense Authorization Act,
      *Military* Police can now snatch you, an American citizen, off the street, throw you in their truck and drive or fly you to the nearest, or most distant, military base and keep you in permanent detention, no phone call, no lawyer,no charges.

      Am I wrong?

      Most cops are decent and they are what keeps us from being overrun by savages or more importantly, keep us all from turning into savages to defend ourself in public and in private settings.

      They must respect the constitution and the Bill of Rights.

      Reply
    6. Kurtismayfield

      All this cop hating is in poor taste.

      Demanding that public servants act appropriately and professionally is not in poor taste. The cop in this story was just looking for a reason to arrest the person. This had nothing to do with public safety, and the person was breaking no laws.

      Reply
    7. False Solace

      It’s people like this who pull the lever every election for “tough on crime” DAs and similar politicians. They don’t care a fig about Constitutional rights, yours or theirs, except in some abstract sense where you never actually use them. They’d rather cower before thugs. Well, thugs don’t protect anyone but themselves.

      Voters like this are how we end up with lethal idiot police who are never ever held accountable.

      Reply
    8. Oregoncharles

      There’ve been at least two times I was very glad to see a police officer. One was traffic patrol in Ohio, long ago, removing a drunk driver from the snowy interstate (fairly humorous story – I’ll put it at the end). The other was a local deputy when somebody had tried to break into our house. The somebody, who was in a badly altered state, ran off when he saw us; the deputies found him a few blocks away.

      So they serve a vital function. That makes it all the more important that they be properly managed and constrained. I’ve no idea about the Ohio highway patrol, but they served public safety that night; I do know that local law enforcement, both city and sheriff, are well managed and decent in interactions with the public (I’m elderly and white, and probably known to them, but I also look like a street person a good part of the time, so it’s a decent test). That reflects the local political culture; it’s a very liberal university town (not Eugene – their police are dangerous). So I know it can be done.

      So my own privilege in this respect is precisely the reason I’m judgmental about police arrogance and abuse. Unfortunately, my town is not the norm.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Oh yes, the Ohio story: I was returning home, at night, in the tail end of a snowstorm, right across Ohio. At one point, I attempted to pass a car that was going very slowly and wobbling a bit. As I came even with him, he speeded up. The next time I tried, he swerved and cut me off. At that point, the trucker behind me flashed his lights, which I took to mean “don’t be a fool, give up,” so I dropped well back and stayed there. The trucker turned off; shortly after that, a car came up behind me, paused a moment, then went around, proving to be a cop, and then attempted to pass the drunk ahead of me. The drunk cut him off, then did it again, before the flashers came on and he had to pull over. As I passed them, I could see him watching me go by; he must have thought the cop was me.

        Reply
    9. Bill H

      I’m talking about simply showing one’s identification. Tone of voice is irrelevant. All you have to do is show the drivers license and you’re out of there. Why go all indignant about rights? You are wasting your own time and causing trouble for yourself.

      “He was right, dead right as he sped along, but he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong.”

      Too many people focusing on trivial rights, not enough focusing on rights that really matter, and nowhere enough focusing on responsibilities of citizenship.

      Rights that really matter, you ask? How about the right to a representative government? Which we don’t have, and it is of our own making, by reelecting 85% of our representation when, supposedly, we disapprove of them by an 89% margin.

      But, by God, we will tell a lowly beat cop to pound sand when he asks us for an ID.

      Reply
      1. cm

        You said in your original post “All this cop hating is in poor taste.” yet cops have no remorse about lobbing a flash-bang grenade on a toddler, and officially stated they would do it again.

        Just last week they killed a six-year old.

        Cops are way too trigger happy, and face no serious consequences for their actions.

        One bad apple spoils the *entire* bunch, and at this point they are in fact all bad.

        Reply
      2. Yves Smith Post author

        What about “We don’t live in a police state and cops don’t have the right to demand identification” don’t you understand?

        What if he wasn’t carrying ID? No one is legally obligated to carry ID if you are not driving a car. I often don’t. He was just going for a walk. It would have been perfectly reasonable for him to have taken only his cell, as opposed to his wallet.

        Reply
    10. Lambert Strether

      > No, it’s the cops who you will call, and who will come and save your ass.

      Or not. At one point I had a Google news alert on “Police killing,” and it was amazing how persistent the theme of some good neighbor calling 911 for help, followed by an random civilian getting whacked. There are lots of predatory systems I try to avoid getting involved in, and law enforcement is one of them.

      Reply
  12. Lynne

    Sad to say, this is *exactly*how cops are trained to handle “encounters”. I threw one out (currently a small town prosecutor) because it went something like this only they did arrest and eventually found drugs and the cops shrugged and said at least they got those drugs off the street. I and any one else in the system could tell stories that would curl your hair. The swatting the other day reminded me of how a local LEO complained a bit ago that all their SWAT team got to do was train, and “we never get to do the fun stuff.”

    Reply
    1. JBird

      The swatting the other day reminded me of how a local LEO complained a bit ago that all their SWAT team got to do was train, and “we never get to do the fun stuff.”

      Giving what we have been talking about I am not surprised but good grief, is the man a sadist? I have read far too many stories of people’s homes heavily damaged by doing this fun stuff. People who are often innocent or guilty of something like weed.

      Reply
      1. MtnLife

        I was a witness of just such an occasion. Happened to be at a buddy’s house when they served a no-knock warrant for a minuscule amount of weed (less than a quarter pound). I can still mark that as the only time I’ve ever had a gun held to my head. Most ironic part of the whole story was that one of the officers on the drug task force that arrested my friend was arrested for growing weed six months later.

        Reply
  13. Dan Lynch

    I totally get this story. I like to go for a walk everyday and there are some parts of the country where pedestrians are regarded with suspicion. And yes, I’ve had encounters with cops, and those encounters have led me to regard cops as the enemy.
    .
    So I try to avoid attracting attention to myself. Obey all the traffic laws, drive a boring-looking car, and generally be inconspicuous. You can’t win when dealing with law — there are more of them, they have more resources, and if it is your word against a cop’s word then courts always believe the cop — so the best strategy is to stay away from them.

    Reply
  14. Wellstone's Ghost

    As an aside, the mechanic who works on my car says that Subarus are what keeps him in business. Just something to consider when making your new automobile purchase.

    Reply
    1. Ed Miller

      My first reaction was total surprise because we bought a used Subaru many years ago (2000) for our daughters to use, and it had 160K miles on it. We never had any problems with it but I eventually sold it cheap to a co-worker who was in need at the time. Then I realized that the mechanic probably said that because the dealers rip you off in the service department, and I found that to be true in multiple states.

      Of course this is just my experience, but Subaru popularity in snow states confirms this in my mind.

      Reply
    2. mtnwoman

      ha! My mechanic said “Honda all the way!” when I asked which next car to get, Mazda, VW, Toyota, or Honda. He went out of his way to say “Don’t get a Subaru!”.

      Reply
  15. Medium Rare

    I don’t get it. Just show the ID and be on your way. He was doing his job, checking out a suspicious person call. There is no reason to be a hero. Be polite, give him the ID, and be on your way.

    When you resist, they assume that there must be some nefarious reason for your resistance. They don’t back down.

    I’m not a big fan of cops and I’ve had my fair share of interactions. I find that compliance, though sometimes distasteful, is the fastest way out of the encounter.

    Lighten up. Don’t try to turn nothing into something.

    Reply
    1. False Solace

      Any interaction with police is potentially dangerous. Any reasonable person would want to avoid interacting with them. In this case, the officer himself said the man was in no way suspicious, he knew it at a glance. Why then did he still stop the man and demand ID? There is no law that requires the man to produce his ID, and yet the officer still threatened to arrest him and make him spend potentially days in jail.

      Is this the country you want to live in? Not me. I want the police to obey the law, instead of threatening innocent people who are minding their own business.

      Reply
    2. Kevskos

      Show me your papers! You have nothing to fear.

      But they do not have the right so why should we have to comply or risk being punished for doing nothing wrong. Do not give up your rights.

      Reply
  16. Jeff N

    Yeah, I personally will never stand up to cops. For all I know they will throw a baggie of weed in my car and “find” it. Then what if I plead “guilty”? Will that show up in background checks for future employment? (shudder)

    Reply
    1. Lynne

      Hate to say, but whether or not you plead guilty, the arrest will show up. And a depressing number of people ascribe to the theory that no innocent person gets arrested so no conviction just means some technicality got you off.

      Reply
    2. Oregoncharles

      That is a fundamental problem with the drug laws; precisely because it’s a victimless crime, they make it absurdly easy for the police to frame someone if they want to. Probably the only reason it doesn’t happen more is that they aren’t always prepared.

      Oh – Sessions just cancelled the Obama letter that told federal prosecutors not to challenge the state-level legalization of marijuana. There will now be a standoff between state and federal law in, among others, Oregon, unless Congress intervenes. There is already legislation that protects medical marijuana; now it’s needed for recreational, as well.

      I really though he wouldn’t do this; it’s begging for lots and lots of trouble, including in red and purple states like Alaska and Colorado. In the legalization states, one countermeasure would be to publicize jury nullification. That could make it impossible to enforce.

      Reply
  17. Frank

    Yves, if you had politely responded to the officers questions and request for ID you would have been on your way in SECONDS. I’m always polite with those people in society who can kill me on the spot and never go to jail. Especially when we’re alone as you were. I learned this as a very young person. P**ing contests with law officers seldom end well for the citizen. And I’m considered “white”, imagine that you’d been black.

    I hear POC (people of color) parents lamenting they must have, “the conversation” with their children. Explaining to their child what I mentioned above. Well, it’s a conversation that *ALL* parents should have. Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase: “An armed society, is a polite society.” Now you know of where it came.

    The conversation we should all have is with our representatives at the local, state, and national level. A civilian/governmental examination of police procedures and training, with changes to encourage deescalation by police. Talk to the boss, it does little good arguing with the employee. You may not believe it, but you are still their bosses, boss.

    This thought always helps me; at your next interaction with police remember, you’re respecting the uniform and office, *NOT* the officer. He’s not yet earned your respect. Give him a chance to do that.
    Make believe you’re talking with a good friend or acquaintance. Being a good citizen of the United States requires this behavior. Sure. We have rights. Along with them come responsibilities.

    No, I’m not a cop.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Please read more carefully. I’m not the author of the post.

      And I care about my rights. Police are supposed to be accountable to citizens. The notion that we have to be afraid of the police as armed thugs is completely wrong and we should oppose it.

      One of the nastiest bits of work by the Democratic party was infiltrating Black Lives Matter at a national level and neutralizing it. The thing that they seemed most eager to stop, and were successful in stopping, were the die-ins, which was a brilliant form of protest and was getting 50%+ white participation, as in showing that concern about trigger-happy policing is across the political spectrum, and not a “people of color” only issue.

      Reply
      1. Lynne

        The irony there is that I was arguing that it was an issue across the political spectrum and not a “people of color only issue.” As a result, I was screamed at by “people of color” that I had no “right” to say anything because only black people were affected. Watering down my concern didn’t need any Democratic party help; BLM activists were happy to take it on themselves. *sigh*

        Reply
        1. Joel

          Saying that the majority of Americans need to STFU and “just listen,” while simultaneously silencing independent voices among poc, is one of the most transparently antidemocratic (and logically stupid) tactics of our ruling elites.

          But it has brainwashed many.

          The author of this post has contributed his two cents to the discussion of police abuses, an issue especially but not exclusively important to poc, and there are actually commenters on here doing the privilege-checking thing. How is it logically possible that poc are hurt by white people speaking out against overpolicing???

          Reply
    2. cm

      You have a fundamental misunderstanding of citizenship, and are grossly mistaken about police:

      Police fired at the truck, thinking it was Dorner’s. The truck was riddled with more than 15 bullet holes in the back windshield and tailgate… Two blocks away from where that shooting occurred, Torrance police shot at another driver travelling in a pickup truck 25 minutes later.

      Police shoot with no warning. The only possibility for change is when police are sent to jail like the rest of us.

      Ben Franklin & Thomas Paine (among others) would be disgusted by your obsequious behavior. After all, they had such respect for law, right?

      Reply
    3. Gaianne

      Frank, I agree with Yves, but there is another, tactical issue you overlook.

      It is not simply a matter of handing over your ID.

      Many years ago I nearly got shot handing over my ID, as I it had never occurred to me I might be shot and gave no thought to the possibility as I reached into my bag to get it.

      Not complying may be dangerous, but complying can be more dangerous. It seems crucial to avoid being shot that your hands are always visible and not doing anything.

      –Gaianne

      Reply
  18. bob

    At least 10 years ago now I had a bad encounter with a small time town cop.

    I was at a stop light. My phone rang, and I reached into my pocket to stop it from ringing. I had to sit up a bit in the seat to reach the phone deep in my pocket. No biggie. Cell phone use was already illegal in my state while driving. But, I wasn’t using a phone, and I wasn’t technically driving anyway. I was parked, standing still.

    Well, there was a cop at the light in the other lane, preparing to take a left onto an interstate ramp. He apparently saw my bit of front seat acrobatics. He got an advance green arrow to take the left in front of me. Instead of continuing up the ramp, he pulled over onto the shoulder of the ramp. A little bit confused, I waited until my light turned green and I continued on my way, watching my rear view.

    After the cars behind me had cleared, he backed-up down the ramp, and into the traffic that was following me. No lights. Just him driving like he was drunk, and without much “safety”

    I kept on my way, watching in the rear view. He was about 4 cars behind me, driving like an asshole, trying to bully his way through traffic, presumably to get to me. No lights. No sirens, no nothing. Just him driving like a jerk.

    A few blocks up was the store I was headed to. I pulled in, and sure enough, the cop followed me into the parking lot and pulled up behind me, blocking me into the parking spot.

    Here we go.

    “License and registration. You were using your phone.”

    No, I wasn’t. I stopped it from ringing. I was not talking on it, or “using it” in any meaningful way. And beside, I wasn’t driving. I was completely stopped.

    “you’re a smart ass huh?”

    No answer.

    He disappears back to his car. This is quite a scene now, me blocked into a parking spot directly in front of a store.

    He finally comes back. “here’s your ticket.”

    I get out of the car, am I free to go?

    “Yes, but you’ll have to pay the ticket.”

    Now, here’s where I was dumb.

    “you’ll have to explain how you got behind me. Do you think that was safe? I’ll show up at court, I hope you do to”

    He went nuts. I just stood there. He was about 6″ shorter than me, but kept hitting me with his fingers in my chest, yelling that he didn’t have to explain anything. Who did I think I was?

    He was trying to bait me. After a few minutes of listening to his short shit complex, I asked again, am I free to go?

    Yes, eventually. I went into the store, which by now has everyone in the store watching me. the clerk- “Wow, what did you do? why was he yelling at you and trying to start a fight?”

    I got home, called the PD, asked to speak to the supervisor, explained what had happened, and asked him if he thought it was safe to to what the other cop had done, in order to issue a minor ticket. I also asked for a complaint form. He more or less got around to saying that as long as I didn’t go through the complaint process, he’d have the ticket voided. I didn’t push the complaint, and the ticket was eventually voided.

    Cops are high school kids still pissed off that they didn’t make the football team.

    Reply
    1. rd

      A few years ago (before cell phone tickets resulted in points), I was on my way to pick up one of my kids at practice on a road that NEVER has traffic. That day, the road was at a standstill, barely moving. After spending 20 minutes in line covering the distance normally covered in less than 20 seconds, I pulled out my cell phone while stopped and texted that I was going to be late. 10 minutes later, I arrived at the cause of the traffic hold-up. The police were doing a seat belt and cell phone usage check and stopping every car and questioning people. They had a plain clothes car parked on the side of the road back a ways that saw me use my cell phone and so they gave me a ticket.

      I could probably have fought it, but didn’t.

      Reply
    2. johnnygl

      This actually raises a good point about one of the few tools citizens have in the toolkit. Cops have a fear of being embarrassed or looking stupid. Supervisors spend a lot of time cleaning up after their hot-headed subordinates.

      The other thing they want to do is avoid having to deal with bureacratic procedures which are often in place to help avoid the embarrassment.

      Reply
      1. JBird

        That was a disturbing reading. It’s just decent ventilation and regular cleaning to fix. But no, let’s give people lead poisoning because money or something. You want anyone, but especially the cops, to be competent which requires a lot of practice.

        Reply
  19. pictboy3

    I’m torn as to what to tell people when I’m presented with this kind of encounter. If I’m advising people professionally, I’d tell them to cooperate, record everything if possible, and do your best to give the officer zero excuses to ruin your day. But on a personal level, it also bothers me that you functionally have no constitutional rights.

    I’ll echo what others have been saying, that police hold all the cards in this scenario. The issue is lack of accountability. Police can lie on reports, lie under oath, and nothing will happen to them. Even judges are starting to get wise to how untrustworthy police can be, but juries are a different story. You can be entirely in the right, but if some police officer plants a bag of weed on you and lies about it, you’re screwed.

    The best thing I think OP and everyone else can do is to make a political issue of it at a local level. Make untamperable, always-recording body cams a litmus test issue for mayoral candidates around the country and then campaign on it. I think it would have more traction than most people realize. The only people who like the cops are the ones who’ve never dealt with them before.

    Reply
  20. Jim Rodgers

    Maybe it is slightly different in the great white north, but I’m not aware of a law defining suspicious or declaring that the act of being suspicious is a crime.

    There are risks in everything. I’ve refused the police permission to search my truck on two occasions when pulled over for a minor traffic infraction. Not a pleasant experience. In the end, after the threats and leading questions, I went on my merry way.

    I think my favorite response is something along the lines of ” If you don’t have something to hide, you wouldn’t have a problem with a search.”

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      if they have to ask to search, they know that they have no right to search.
      they instead want you to give up your Fourth Amendment Rights, for your and their convenience.
      This sticks in my craw.
      I’ve both assented and refused such fishing.
      when I’ve refused, they got all jumpy(it’s important to keep your cool and your hands visible), but eventually let me go.
      Those Rights are far too precious to abandon at the first sign of the gumball lights.

      “these are not the droids you’re looking for…”

      Reply
  21. cripes

    National Crime Information Center (NCIC) is almost 40 years old and the “Data contained in NCIC is provided by the FBI, federal, state, local and foreign criminal justice agencies, and authorized courts.”

    Including warrants, parole, probation, arrests for felony or misdemeanor…almost everything.

    My guess is the only differrence now is that ossifers can run NCIC checks right from laptops in their patrol cars instead of having to go down to the station.

    I’m waiting for the NCIC smartphone app, it will save them the trouble of walking back to the car.

    NCIC facial recognition will save them the trouble of stopping and asking for ID in the first place.

    Reply
    1. rd

      From the FBI description of NCIC:

      Note from the FBI description “However, a positive response from NCIC is not probable cause for an officer to take action.” Somehow, I don’t think that is how the average policemen views a positive response, as it would largely negate the entire stop and ask for ID process.

      How NCIC is Used: Criminal justice agencies enter records into NCIC that are accessible to law enforcement agencies nationwide. For example, a law enforcement officer can search NCIC during a traffic stop to determine if the vehicle in question is stolen or if the driver is wanted by law enforcement. The system responds instantly. However, a positive response from NCIC is not probable cause for an officer to take action. NCIC policy requires the inquiring agency to make contact with the entering agency to verify the information is accurate and up-to-date. Once the record is confirmed, the inquiring agency may take action to arrest a fugitive, return a missing person, charge a subject with violation of a protection order, or recover stolen property.

      https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/ncic

      Reply
    2. Gary

      The security on the NCIC terminals is very strict. They are also still using late 60’s technology. One way the states get around this is having their own state warrant databases that interface into the NCIC. You can’t update a warrant, only view and search.
      I worked in data processing for local governments for a large part of my life. I did work with LEOs and prosecutors. The only way I could effectively help them was to be accepted by them. They very much have an US vs THEM attitude. What I find disturbing is that their over all attitude has changed so much since the mid 90’s. They tend to treat everyone as if they were career criminals now. That was not always the case.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether

        > What I find disturbing is that their over all attitude has changed so much since the mid 90’s. They tend to treat everyone as if they were career criminals now.

        It’s almost like they’ve become occupying force… Which is bad for everyone, including the cops. My understanding is that occupation over time is corrosive to the morale of the occupying force. Hence remarks like: “we never get to do the fun stuff.”

        Reply
  22. Jeremy Grimm

    The local police are employees of the local municipality. They work for our town — for us.

    Our mayor and the town council is supposed to represent the interests of our town.

    How did matters go so wrong in our town? Did you vote or petition for this kind of police. I didn’t. Did our mayor and the town council bring about these changes to the operations of our local police? Whose interests do they represent?

    I don’t see how anyone rich or poor, prominent or obscure, is served by the police forces that control our town — except perhaps the members of the police department. How have the police come to hold so much sway over our local government?

    Reply
    1. rd

      Fear-mongering.

      They play up the bogeyman stories and therefore, the police become the saviors with the right to do anything. It is one of the reasons Trump won a year ago.

      In 2017, the Washington Post reports that police killed 987 US citizens while reported total homicides in the US in 2015 was 15,696. so if you are killed intentionally by somebody, you have a 6% chance that person will be a policeman which is pretty astonishing.

      Reply
        1. JBird

          It depends on the police department. They are all supposed to be report them to the FBI, but roughly half of police homicides were from departments that just don’t or of those like the NYPD that could be said to filter some out such that of Eric “I can’t breathe” Garner would not have been, and for all I know still isn’t, reported as a police caused death (homicide).

          The new rules are supposed to really, really require, (we really mean it this time) all deaths to the FBI.

          Reply
  23. Expat2Uruguay

    Let me tell you about policing in Uruguay. First off, there’s a lot of things that aren’t illegal there. Being homeless is not illegal. Crossing the street is not illegal. Drinking in public is not illegal. Smoking marijuana in public is not illegal. Prostitution is not illegal. Possession of drugs is not illegal, selling is.

    All of this means there’s a lot less cops simply because there’s a lot less stuff that’s illegal. The only place I’ve seen police presence in Uruguay was during carnival or in tourist areas where they appear to be available to dissuade / catch pickpockets and purse thieves. Banks and some supermarket have armed security guards has well and A great deal of security is provided by cameras all over the tourist areas.

    Another ramification of having less stuff illegal and less police to enforce the illegal stuff, is it changes the attitudes of the cops completely. They know their place, as members of a community and they use their Authority mostly for deterrence, as far as I can tell.

    Here’s my favorite cop story from Uruguay: I was riding the bus one night at 3 a.m., yes they have buses at 3 a.m., when two uniformed police officers got on the bus. Since I’m still not fluent in Spanish I was quite concerned as to what might be going on that I had missed. I sat Frozen on my seat watching them wide-eyed as they took their places. That’s right, they were just riding the bus home after shift. This would never never never happen in California. Cops would never take public transportation in uniform. Because they’re different than us you see?

    Somr final words about Public Safety in Uruguay. For various reasons some people claim that it’s not safe there. But I take my cue from the observation of young women walking alone at all times of the night on the streets, with no concern for their personal safety. I’ve even seen them with earphones on! My theory is that women would not do this if they did not feel safe. On the other hand all the windows and doors have bars on them. So there seems to be a great deal of concern regarding home burglaries. Or this may just be left over from the times when they had dictators. I also get the impression that the cops don’t do much when a home or business has been burglarized. In my year and a half in the country I know of two restaurants that were broken into. I have never been accosted personally, but I know someone who was. After living 30 years in Sacramento California my observation is that the main jobs of the police there were to harass the homeless and make sure no one did graffiti. Nothing to do with personal safety or protecting the homes of citizens: maintaining the value of Real Estate appears to be their top priority. Happy New Year all!

    Reply
  24. Joey

    Being out of town hurts your position as you are unlikely to want to return for court proceedings. I was locked up overnight in an unmanned former jail across the river from a tony Pittsburgh suburb for walking with an open container. All I could do was pay the court costs and fine and be thankful I didn’t have medical emergency.

    Reply
    1. Joel

      I’m sorry for what happened to you.

      Yours is a case that civil libertarians don’t talk about as much: what to do in an encounter with the police where you are actually in violation of a law and you just want to avoid an overreaction by the police. I think it would be pointless to deny them your ID in this case because of course they have grounds to arrest you.

      So what do you do in that scenario? Both cooperating and not cooperating carry risks.

      Of course, the solution is not to commit any infractions in the first place, but people make mistakes…what are we supposed to do so it doesn’t get any worse?

      Reply
    2. UserFriendly

      I had a similar experience on the NYC subway (it’s legal to open carry on the street but not the subway). When I gave the cop my MN ID he just assumed I was a tourist and didn’t know better. I grew up in CT less than an hour outside NYC and was rather familiar with the details.

      Reply
  25. Adrienne

    Coming of age in the late 70s, we learned that even suburban white kids could be subject to life-changing events by not cooperating with cops.

    The deal is, many (not all, but let’s face it the majority) of cops are on a power trip. They want you to acknowledge their power and ability to completely [family blog] up your life.

    When stopped by a cop, be completely passive. Hand over ID immediately. Do not, DO NOT talk back, EVER, even if provoked. Call him/her Sir or Ma’am as appropriate.

    When you are stopped by a cop, forget about everything except getting out of the situation as quickly as possible. Every moment you are under the cop’s control you are in danger.

    The point is not to make a point, but to get you butt out of there without getting arrested.

    Reply
  26. Sluggeaux

    Good grief. You’re a stranger in a small town and some nimrod had just run out to confront you about looking at his shiny new Subaru. It should have come as no surprise that some bored cop with nothing better to do on a cold morning got a call about it.

    Instead of playing amateur ACLU lawyer, a better strategy might have been to ask, “Is this about stopping to look at that Subaru? I’m John Doe from Big City, I’m here visiting my brother Bob Doe who lives around the corner on Clam Street, and I’m thinking about buying one of those new-model Subarus. Do you actually think that some middle-aged white guy dressed like this is going to be out casing cars in this weather?” Now the shoe is on the other foot.

    The cop, correctly described above as a C-level community college grad with a gun, actually had a “Reasonable Suspicion” to detain you based on your earlier encounter with the small town busy-body guarding his precious Subaru. Why escalate the encounter with the cop by challenging his legitimate authority? By signaling that you’re the relative of someone well-known in the community — you know what street he lives on — you’d have probably have been invited to continue on your way because, as the cop noted, there was NO WAY that someone dressed as you were had a warrant in NCIC.

    Yves, NCIC has been around since 1967. It’s a very basic national system for checking for arrest warrants. Reducing the issuance of arrest warrants has been an incarceration-reduction strategy for decades, because they tend to arise from failures to appear in court for Ferguson-type nuisance offenses. Cops do use them to deal with nuisance persons, but they generally just cause the police wasted time processing people who will O-R out the other door before the paperwork is completed.

    The more interesting story that I see played-out in my very similar small coastal community (on the opposite coast) is that there are ever-rising numbers of homeless people who have been discarded to “Go Die” by our society. The rate of theft from cars and yards by “transients” is off-the-hook in my community, and our local police are constantly being hounded to “do something” about it. The only thing that they can do is to encourage community members to report “suspicious persons” and to use those reports to stop and check for warrants, which are common among persons forced to live on the streets with no means to pay exorbitant fines and fees when ticked for nuisance offenses.

    The homeless are being driven from urban areas into the suburbs and tourist towns such as Cape Cod, and residents are becoming more paranoid and insular than ever before as a result. The homeless have no hope of employment, no health care, and no housing — it’s a tremendous crisis that small-town police are ill-equipped to address. Jailing them is not the answer. THAT’s the headline here…

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      The homeless are essentially untouchables er, caste-aways if you will.

      What sort of punishment for any offense could be metered out to them, really?

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        They could be arrested, taken to sheltered jail cells, fed three times a day, have any acute medical conditions seen to….uh, never mind.

        Reply
    2. False Solace

      The cop had no legitimate authority to demand an ID, yet threatened to arrest the guy anyway. “Good grief” indeed.

      > Why escalate the encounter with the cop by challenging his legitimate authority?

      It’s the cop who escalated by making an illegal demand and a threat. This is the problem. Not the guy walking down the street. Cops get crank calls all the time and should know how to handle them. Instead this one went off on a power trip. It’s nothing but professional corruption — ego gratification — and more and more Americans have had enough.

      Reply
      1. Sluggeaux

        Sorry, but I’ve been a criminal lawyer for 33 years, and a report from somebody working at a local lab of a stranger looking into his car is grounds for police to perfectly legally detain and ask for ID in all 50 states. Wilfully obstructing and delaying that legal demand is a generally an arrestable offense in all 50 states.

        Diligens escalated the encounter by playing amateur lawyer, when he admittedly knew exactly why the cop had stopped him and could have effortlessly de-escalated the situation by simply explaining the misunderstanding. A cop’s not on a “power-trip” when he actually does have the “power” in this situation. Challenging that power will get you exactly nowhere, every time.

        It’s just annoying that elite fraud and rule-breaking doesn’t get this level of attention from the policemen assigned to that beat…

        Reply
        1. Adrienne

          Sluggeaux, IIRC the author claims he looked at the car “from several feet away.” If he was “looking in” then that might be a whole ‘nuther situation… Security cameras would likely verify the distance and creep factor of the encounter.

          Is it “challenging” the police to ask why he is being asked for ID? I disagree with the author’s approach–as it seems to be an action of one who is secure in his privilege–but wasn’t he within his rights to do so?

          Reply
        2. Yves Smith Post author

          This is bollocks.

          The owner of the car IMMEDIATELY came out and talked to Dilgens and Diligens calmed him down. It appears this was the only car parked at this office, so the only people who were there would be the owner of the car and at most somebody who drove in with him, who would have known the owner went out ASAP and talked to Diligens, who calmed him down.

          And since when is it a crime to look at a car from a distance? Diligens says he didn’t go close to it. He wan’t at a distance where he could see what was inside, nor could he have been construed to have been looking in the car.

          As for you “amateur ACLU lawyer” slur, this isn’t an area where there was ambiguity. The cop was in the wrong. And this is the way the public loses its rights, by being complacent when abuses like this (and this was an abuse) occur.

          You’ve gotten too close to cops and it shows.

          Reply
          1. Sluggeaux

            Heavens to Murgatroyd, but the amateur ACLU lawyers are coming out of the woodwork around here!

            Is Diligens’ subjective version of events the only version of events that is relevant? Might the Subaru-lover have had a different perspective? Diligens’ impression was “he seemed to relax,” not that he had “calmed him down” as you put it it.

            The Subaru-lover appears to have done the correct thing and asked the police to check on whether his subjective suspicions were correct. The Subaru-lover was objectively wrong about Diligens, but that was a decision that a police officer was legally entitled — and obligated — to make in a civilized society that respects the rule of law.

            The police can’t radio up to the Black Helicopter and review the surveillance tapes to decide from what distance looking at a car becomes objectively suspicious. Theft from parked cars is rampant these days and the last time that I looked it’s still a crime in all 50 states.

            Close to the cops? My current favorite cop is some guy called Robert Mueller so mea culpa. Being stopped by the police is never a pleasant experience, but privileged people seem to hate it the most of all. Maybe we should drop our subjective notions of privilege and all get closer to the cops, because it’s unpunished elite frauds that are more responsible than any flat-foot beat cop for our public’s current (and massive) “loss of rights.”

            Reply
            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Help me. You’ve just proved my point.

              1. Even in stop and identify states, the cop has to have a reasonable suspicion that the person committed a crime. Looking at a car from many feet away isn’t even in the ballpark. Yet you go on that the cop was within his rights.

              2. It is more likely that the paranoid Subaru owner called before he ran out and then didn’t bother calling off the cops a second time. The response time is consistent with an earlier rather than a later call. I can tell you in my ‘hood, which is overpoliced, even with things that ought to be urgent, like reports of domestic fights and accidents, you are lucky to get a 15 minute response. I am in a top priority building in terms of police response (the permanent residence of the Egyptian ambassador, he’s embarrassed at how often and fast the police show up over nothingburgers) and even our responses for things that could involve him are at best 5 and more often 10 mins.

              3. Mass is not a stop and ID state, so the cop was utterly in the wrong.

              Reply
              1. Sluggeaux

                There are a variety of legal classifications applied to encounters between police and citizens for Fourth Amendment “seizure” purposes.

                The facts described were not a “Stop-and-Frisk” which is unlawful in most states. They appear to describe a “Temporary Detention” of Diligens, which is based on a “Reasonable and Articulable Suspicion that some activity related to crime has taken place, and that the person detained had some relation to that possible criminal activity.” Depending on the “Totality of the circumstances,” a request for identification and a frisk for readily-accessible weapons is proper during such a “Temporary Detention.” This standard is generally applicable in all 50 states.

                For all you amateur lawyers out there, a Consensual Encounter, a Stop-and-Frisk, a Temporary Detention, and an Arrest each have different legal requirements and significance for Fourth Amendment purposes. I’m seeing a lot of confusion in the comments about the nature of this encounter. How it is classified matters to we professional lawyers.

                Reply
                1. Yves Smith Post author

                  This is strained, and you ought to know that, and any objective reader will see it merely through a careful reading of your own words.

                  There is absolutely no “reasonable and articulable suspicion that some activity related to a crime had taken place.” Notice that this is past tense. Dilgens stopped and looked at a car from a few feet away. He didn’t get close enough to look in the window. There was no crime here. Your argument falls flat on its face.

                  Why are you so invested in defending over the top policing? This is really distressing to observe and makes me doubt your judgment.

                  Reply
                  1. Sluggeaux

                    Of course there was no crime actually committed here! The activity justifying a Temporary Detention by police only needs to be related to potential criminal activity. A “reasonable suspicion” is largely subjective and does not require that any actual crime have occurred.

                    As you know, I’ve litigated quite literally hundreds of Temporary Detention cases in court — and I also happen to know Diligens personally. I have a pretty good idea about how these things go down, based on actual experience.

                    I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that the call came in just like this:

                    “This is X. As you know, I work down at the lab. Some stranger who I’ve never seen before was looking into my new car. When I ran out and confronted him about it he acted kind of dismissive of my concerns and I thought that he just seemed a bit shifty in the way he made eye-contact. I think that he might have been up to no good. Can you send an officer to check this guy out? I think that he might be taking stuff from cars.”

                    The applicable legal standard for a Temporary Detention only requires that the cop have some independent source who has provided some objectively reasonable facts from which an inference may be drawn that some activity related to crime is taking place. It may be mere preparation. Those inferences do not have to turn out be objectively correct in order to justify a Temporary Detention to investigate the reasonableness of the inferences drawn.

                    It’s a pity that the police are trained to come-on so aggressively in our armed-to-the-teeth society, but they are entitled to be safe and not sorry. It’s also a pity Yves, that you seem to be so wounded that your headline “scoop” about a 50-year old NCIC database isn’t news to anyone familiar with the justice system, that it appears to have caused you to lose track of your judgment in this discussion.

                    Reply
                    1. Clive

                      “Reasonable suspicions” (referred to as “reasonable grounds” here in England) has been subject to extensive government, police force and civil liberties evaluations.

                      What happened to the original poster of this piece was in no way near meeting the criteria here https://www.gov.uk/police-powers-to-stop-and-search-your-rights

                      And reasonable grounds is as you say a very low bar to meet. The principle is the same in both US and U.K. jurisdictions. But the facts — regardless of whose version you could take — were still short of those needed to meet even that low bar. All the guy did was look at a vehicle. He didn’t try the locks. He didn’t loiter or case the area. If the officer had stopped the man, made some enquiries and didn’t get satisfactory answers, that behaviour might have met the threshold. But that’s not what happened.

                      All such cases are fact-sensitive and subject to a test of reasonableness.

                      No neutral person doing a fair reading of the facts would deem the officer acted reasonably or had reasonable suspicion.

                  2. Yves Smith Post author

                    No, “reasonable suspicion” indicates that the view has to be defensible, as in reason-based. Words like “judgment” or “opinion” or “belief” are a subjective standard. “Reasonable suspicion” means that a neutral independent party would accept that the conclusion the cop came to made sense when presented with the facts.

                    Go re-read the language you cited. It is not an “or” but an “and”. The second clause, about potential criminal activity, has to be in connection with an actual crime, the part before the “and”.

                    Reply
                    1. Sluggeaux

                      Are you OK? This is getting pretty surreal. A Temporary Detention isn’t an Arrest. A Temporary Detention isn’t a Stop-and-Frisk.

                      The cop obviously didn’t see what happened. He’s just checking-out a report by a suspicious citizen. A factual report that some random stranger appeared — subjectively to that citizen — to be looking suspiciously into his car is sufficient grounds for the police to reasonably and objectively suspect that someone may be casing cars in order to commit theft, and to investigate further. That investigation would have quickly disclosed the citizen’s suspicions to be unfounded.

                      The best way to deal with a situation like this is to helpfully dispel the obvious misunderstanding, not to waste everyone’s time educating some cop about your “rights” — that you happen to be wrong about. You might not like it, but that’s been how the courts have interpreted the Fourth Amendment for the past 55 years or so. It’s the same law that we all have to deal with and the price we pay for living in a society inhabited by strangers.

                    2. Yves Smith Post author

                      Did you read the post with any care? Diligens was not looking into the car. He was well away from it looking AT it.

                      The cop had no legal basis for demanding ID or threatening arrest for failure to produce ID. This is abuse of authority.

                      Moreover, as I point out in a comment further down, there was nothing in what the cop said that indicated his harassment was based on a call from Mr. Subaru. This was an assumption by Diligens and it may be inaccurate.

                      It could be a sheer coincidence of timing: cop speeding because he was bored and roads were empty, suddenly seeing Diligens and again because he was bored, deciding to stop him because hey, why would any person on the up and up be out walking with no car in sight? He must have no money and therefore be up to no good.

                      If Diligens had decided to make a point of it, he could have let himself be arrested and then gotten the actual call and any dispatch info in discovery. And the original call, assuming there was one, is pretty unlikely to have said anything more than “guy I don’t know looking at my car”.

                      Moreover, Diligens’ attorneys could also had said in discovery that they’d go into the records to see how often cops did ID searches with no dispatch calls and/or no record of a reasonable basis for demanding the ID. Do you seriously think the police wouldn’t fold with a threat of rummaging around their records and exposing policing that was abusive and is also likely to be even more abusive of similarly situated people of color, particularly in an area that holds itself out to be nice and liberal? Particularly when Diligens’ lawyers clue them in that the person they’ve arrested has close relationships with reporters at prominent national newspapers and has gotten them to run front page stories based on his work?

                      Finally, I don’t take well to condescension. It’s a cheap trick used by people who are losing arguments to try to smear the opponent. I thought you were better than that. This exchange has been revealing and not in a good way.

                    3. Lambert Strether

                      > Are you OK?

                      Speaking of tense encounters….

                      * * *

                      I think gaming out the way the call might have gone down isn’t especially useful. From 30,000 feet, it’s clear that (armed, militarized, trigger-happy) police can haul any civilian who doesn’t comply with their demand for an ID — or gives the wrong answer to “did you take a piss?” — down to the station with impunity* (assuming, of course, that the civilian doesn’t get whacked, for which the police also have impunity), at which point the encounter goes into the civilian’s permanent record with unknown consequences, none good. That’s not the America I grew up knowing, and empathy for the individual cop aside, I can’t believe the defenses I’m hearing.

                      On the national database, I just re-read the NCIC database comments on the post. It’s unclear to me how Diligens could have been identified by a regional database from his license plate alone, given that he’s from the other side of the country. Here is the interaction once more:

                      the dispatcher came back with my full home address in another state and the key phrase, the real reason for the whole encounter, “No warrants.”

                      Ergo, a national database. Yes, we have to assume an illicit or at least not publicly licit data collection program, but such things are the norm nowadays, surely?

                      One might think that even the most police-friendly among us would be concerned with the community relations aspect of this post, and the many, many comments on this thread, since they imply that law enforcement is both brutal and fragile. Apparently not.

                      NOTE If the Cape were Chicago, I’d be asking if the stop were end-of-shift. But apparently this stop took place in the daytime.

              2. subgenius

                Yves, I would just like to say how much I appreciate you.

                This site is definitely my most visited, but beyond that you never cease to amaze – your domain knowledge is obvious, but it is your breadth of knowledge and interests, clear headedness, and your willingness and ability to stand firm on a principle is what I think of as defining you. It is exemplary.

                You are a force of nature.

                [Edit]

                I would like to extend that to the whole team, actually. And also to a vast number of the commentariat.

                Thank you all, even (especially) if I disagree with you.

                Reply
            2. blennylips

              You mean this Robert Mueller”?

              The third and most important factor tempering my enthusiasm for the new special prosecutor is that Comey and Mueller badly bungled the biggest case they ever handled. They botched the investigation of the 2001 anthrax letter attacks that took five lives and infected 17 other people, shut down the U.S. Capitol and Washington’s mail system, solidified the Bush administration’s antipathy for Iraq, and eventually, when the facts finally came out, made the FBI look feckless, incompetent, and easily manipulated by outside political pressure.


              https://www.ocregister.com/2017/05/21/comey-mueller-bungled-big-anthrax-case-together/

              Reply
    3. Jeremy Grimm

      In reading this thread — I find there is a very great distance and difference between what is ‘legal’ and what an ordinary citizen might regard as ‘according to the laws of this land’. And I believe there is a further distance and difference between what is ‘according to the laws of this land’ and what an ordinary citizen — a peer of the accused — might regard as ‘Just’. If I am ever chosen as a juror I will find great moral problems in finding for what passes for ‘legal’ and similar qualms in finding for what pass as the ‘laws of this land’ — at least within the realm of crimes which seem to occupy the greatest levels of effort by our police, prosecutors, and judges.

      Reply
  27. Bill

    I was stopped by a cop, he said, due to a complaint called in about my driving. I started asking questions about that, and he exclaimed “I can arrest you!” and I realized he was nuts, so I allowed him to detain me for nothing for a half hour. He said, “I can tell by looking at you that you aren’t impaired,” but he still went through the whole routine, refusing to give me any information about who the caller was or what they said, then he let me go. Another time, a cop pulled me over and looked surprised when he came up to my truck, (I think he thought I was someone else) and then made up some BS reason for pulling me over. They seem to live in a different world from the rest of most of us.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      I’ve had the same experience. I once lived near a town where there was a man who I looked like who also drove the same type of truck, same color, similar dents and dings, etc. This person was a thug type, always having run-ins with the law. I was pulled over several times while passing through the town in the mistaken belief that I was this other person.
      Nothing makes your day like hearing the speaker on the cops car intone, after you’ve pulled over: “Get out of the truck with your hands where we can see them!”
      In one later mistaken pull over, the policeman, who I recognized from an earlier encounter exclaimed: “Oh! It’s you again! Do us all a favour and get that truck painted another colour.”
      Eventually, the other man ended up in jail, and the town police ignored me from then on.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether

        > “Oh! It’s you again! Do us all a favour and get that truck painted another colour.”

        Or stick a sign on it saying “I’m not that guy!” (Of course, “that guy” would do the same thing, if he were smart, but he probably isn’t….)

        Reply
  28. Saylor

    In 1974 while on a field trip to the U.S. border crossing with Canada for my criminal justice studies, I found a data base existed that shared data from Canada, Interpol, FBI and multiple state agencies. This data base not only included people, but vehicular data also. 1974….

    Reply
  29. Ken

    Cop says, “I need to see some ID.”

    Pedestrian says, “Certainly, officer. What identity papers are required by the state when going for a walk?”

    Reply
  30. Adam1

    While it’s fine to debate what the author could have or should have done, I find it more disturbing how lazy police officers have gotten relying on such tactics and systems.

    The officer had the right intuition and had the proper setting to obtain all the information he needed without ever being demanding or even treading on someone’s rights. Alternative conversation…
    Officer (it’s near zero recall): Can I help you? It’s pretty cold out here, did your car break down? No you’re just on a walk; where are you heading? Can I give you a lift back to where you’re staying? (yes or no) Anyhow, we got a call about a suspicious person scoping out cars down the street. Have you seen anyone?

    While the above doesn’t likely get the officer the warrant info, he’s already nearly certain the guy doesn’t have any. And the warrant search actually potentially is bad policing… What if the author was not the one scoping out the Subaru? What if the author gets dumb and does cause a scene? What if the warrant search does return a warrant, all be it wrong (it does happen, I have a friend who is the female version of the author who got pulled over for rolling through a red light on a right hand turn. Some lazy municipal employee somewhere in NYS fat fingered the license number of someone wanted for failing to show to a DWI trial – and the system showed hers! It took her 3 months to get that fixed)? The author goes to jail and a potential real criminal is not apprehended or questioned.

    Reply
  31. JamesG

    I recall observing at the exit from the huge New York Public Library at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue the following encounter: an exiting individual was refusing to open for inspection, as requested by a uniformed guard, the bag he was carrying. The exiting individual was young male and white. The uniformed guard was male African-American.

    I was in a hurry and left the scene but often regret doing so. I should have stayed and spoken up … on the side of the guard.

    Although it has “Public” in its name the library is privately owned and operated. The guard had every right to inspect the bag and I should have pointed out to the obnoxious and ignorant white guy that he was a guest on private property.

    Some of these “knee-jerk” heroes who see themselves as paragons of freedom are simply jerks.

    Reply
    1. JBird

      Then why is it labeled public and how does that make a difference in allowing a stranger to rummage through my stuff? My bag, my jacket, my whatever? For what reason? And it was a demand, not a request? And I guess public funding still pays for much (all?) of the library.

      I guess I am saying that I do not, do not at all like, or respect the “obey authority mantra” even if what is being demanded is “legal.”

      Reply
    2. c_heale

      Why does the ‘race’ (in speech marks because there is no biological basis for current racial definitions) of the people in this story have anything to do with the argument that is being proposed. ‘Black’ is not automatically good and ‘white’ not automatically bad, and to infer so is racism (the racism of the ‘noble savage’).

      Reply
  32. lyman alpha blob

    I tend to agree with how the situation could or should have been handled. When I was about 20 I got taken in for a very minor traffic infraction by an overzealous small town cop. The cop took a mug shot, etc and called in the supervisor who I believe had to get up out of bed to deal with the situation. He saw my license and then who I was related to, and when I told him my grandfather’s name who was a fairly prominent citizen in a neighboring town, he let me go. I still did wind up having to pay a ticket though.

    But I think the point here is not necessarily what could or should have been done in this situation. It’s what was done and how it turned out. Someone other than a nicely dressed white guy verbally challenging a cop is quite likely to receive a very different reaction and the encounter wouldn’t always end in a friendly handshake.

    Reply
  33. user12312312

    A couple of things from reading this. Depending on the time and place, being a police officer seems like it can be a boring / thankless / annoying job. If your encounter happens right after a particularly annoying or frustrating call for the officer, part of that’s going to land on you…

    Another thing – police officers are going to be very sensitive to disrespect or any challenge to their authority – as well as any sign of agitation. So even if you’re going to go thru the whole exercise of “why do you want to see my ID” (which is probably wasted breath for everyone, even though it really is important – nobody wants to live in East Germany) — firstly, acknowledge the officer’s authority to be who he is, acknowledge that you are going along with the standard roleplay that this situation demands, without giving up your rights, but instead signal that you will handle whatever disagreements arise in the process in a way that isn’t going to escalate the emotional level of the situation – though you can maybe in some situations credibly threaten to be a pain in the ass just as much as he can (but why?). This all is going to be a non-verbal thing that happens probably in the first 3 seconds. Then go about whatever you have to say in a calm, slow, boring tone of voice.

    Again- if the officer is having a shitty day, you have to figure that out quickly and acknowledge it somehow or else it’s going to suck for you.

    It’s no different than being pulled over for whatever. Once the decision is made to stop someone, it’s a pretty fixed script with fixed responses for most of the possible things that can happen. He runs your ID. You follow the script to get it all over with as quickly as possible. He gives you a warning or a ticket or whatever. Alternatively: You don’t like the fact that he stopped you in the first place – that’s a tough one to argue, it would basically involve invoking some form of social privilege that you have (age, wealth, friends with some good lawyers, etc), which seems like it would be against the philosophy of the OP.

    There’s a pretty darn high chance that anyone posting here is in a relatively privileged place in life, and can probably easily get thru any encounters with law enforcement with little trouble. If you want to make it better for the less privileged in our society, the place to do that is (1) in law and policy making, and (2) by building a future where the men and women working for police etc are more diverse in terms of their politics, race, economic background, etc.

    Reply
    1. Joey

      Read my encounter described above. I’m a white male clean-cut physician in my 40s. I fear for our society if my privilege gets me extra- judicial detention.

      Reply
      1. Joey

        OK. The fact I rue not challenging the injustice in court is evidence of privilege. But still living in a police state.

        Reply
      1. Joel

        If the Stasi had had our information technology rather than massive filing cabinets, the GDR might still be with us.

        Reply
    2. JBird

      I understand the practical advice, but that is the problem, all the responsibility is placed on John Q. Public who gets no leeway for anything, unlike the police; the public can be anyone who maybe mentally ill, ill-ill, a bit slow without their coffee, deaf, drunk, misinformed, whatever. They are at the nearly complete mercy of a cop who maybe does not want to follow the law. Who maybe gets angry at you for not being absolutely unannoying, or may think you help fill his quota that they keep insisting aren’t real.

      Splitting all these rules about stop-and-frisk, probable cause, ask/no ask States is like the old How many angels can dance on the head of a pin debate. Meaningless for most people. I think all this complexity, which is near impossible for most to follow and needs an absolutely clear head to navigate, exist to deny people their rights, even if it is just to be left alone. Whatever right you point to in the Constitution has so many yes,buts to them that in many parts of the country they don’t exist. Free speech, privacy, right to bear arms, trial by jury, a timely trial etc. Unless you have more money than God, of course. Then the entire Constitution and the Bill of Rights apply to your. Otherwise Obey or Die, that’s if you are giving the chance to.

      Reply
  34. ebbflows

    One only needs to ask who would want to be a police officer in a neoliberal socioeconomic order, what profiles would administration deem adequate too that task, and what training regime preferable.

    Without getting lost in historical comparisons, from the early 80s on police forces, starting with major cities, started utilizing military grade SOP WRT submission of combatants. This occurred with the advent of SWAT being trained or staffed with elite [ex-]military. Since such time this has filtered down through out the entire sector due to notions of best practice – effectiveness, shades of McNamara – Von Newman and Nashian optics.

    To put it bluntly, Americans are akin to Vietnamese Nationals under occupation, where everyone is a potential NVC, even the kid with a shoe shine box, young women on a bike at a check point, or some random in upscale cold weather gear on a stroll e.g. everyone is a potential combatant.

    The only thing left to quire is where did this perspective originate, to what ends, are there any self reinforcing feed back loops, and path dependency factors.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether

      > To put it bluntly, Americans are akin to Vietnamese Nationals under occupation, where everyone is a potential NVC, even the kid with a shoe shine box, young women on a bike at a check point, or some random in upscale cold weather gear on a stroll e.g. everyone is a potential combatant.

      Exactly. (And will turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy if we don’t watch out. Right now, people are, quite sensibly, practicing avoidance. What happens after that?)

      Regarding ex-military types as suitable candidates for police work by definition was a bad public policy decision whose bad consequences are still playing out.

      Reply
  35. Shilo

    The rabbit hole gets pretty deep on this the more you study it.

    We live under “martial rule” (just short of martial law) in this country, and the military armed patrol officers are on the lookout for any expression of belligerence from the conquered population (you & me), which they deem their duty to suppress/punish.

    Scroll down to page 114, Titled “The Law Martial” in this ruling from the sixties for further explanation.

    http://www.freedom-school.com/history/on-the-fourteenth-amendment.pdf

    I’m a sixty year old woman, and I don’t argue with men with guns. I have my hand holding my paperwork dangling out the window before he even gets out of his car. This removes the impression that I was following orders by waiting until I was asked for ID.

    My last stop was on a lonely country road by a small city cop trolling for DUIs. (big dollars) I did ask if he had probable cause, to which he said “Yes, failure to maintain your lane” (laughable, as I knew he was on my tail for 5 miles) to which I said “And you can prove that, right?” There was a hesitation and then he said “yes”. They really don’t want to have to spend time in court being their own witness (I think they don’t get paid) and he eventually decided I was sober and must have been distracted by my dog!

    It took a long time for me learn how to cop the benign non-belligerent attitude because I’m just as ticked off as anybody about being a revenue source for cities, counties and state governments.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether

      Let’s try to avoid the word “pigs,” shall we? Dehumanizing rhetoric like that was corrosive in the 60s — from the losers, right?

      And the implied “holier than thou” attitude shown really grates me. Neoliberalism degrades everybody, including you. “There but for the grace of the Flying Spaghetti Monster…”

      Reply
      1. Saylor

        Thank you! And while we are at it, let’s stop with terms like ‘sheeple’ and the ilk. Generalizations are the sign of weak minds.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether

          Yes, “sheeple” is another one of my pet peeves, not least because, beside being false, it mimics the liberal Democrat tendency to insult those whom they need to persuade.

          We do need to generalize, but the generalizations need to be valid (for some definition) and deployed such that they aren’t self-defeating…. And a strong stomach is needed, as well as a strong mind. “If men were angels, no government would be necessary….”

          Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Please use Google. Only in a minority of states, and Mass isn’t one of them. And the bar for relying on them is higher than what took place here.

      Reply
      1. todde

        True.

        In my state (illinois), the bar is (was – 30+ years ago) low.

        As my lawyer and a judge explained to me, if a cop thinks you are going to commit a crime IN THE FUTURE, he can ask for your name, address and reason for being in public. (You have to be in public).

        If you refuse, he can arrest you. (and he did with an obstruction of justice charge).

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Your father appears to have been invested in defending cops.

          The legal standard even in stop and ID states is “reasonably suspect”. That means it cannot be the cop’s pet personal belief, it has to be defensible by objective standards.

          Reply
          1. todde

            I don’t know what my father has to do with it but you may be confusing him with ‘judges and juries’

            They love defending police and they are the only ones who ultimately matter.

            I don’t know if your friend could convince a jury that a call from dispatch is a police officer personal belief, especially when all parties are in agreement that he was the person the call was regarding.

            And we can take your friend at his word, but in a court of law 2 other people get to testify and I don’t think eirher will be friendly.

            And whatever happened I will guarantee the cop will testify to whatever needed to happen to justify the arrest.

            Reply
            1. Yves Smith Post author

              He could get any dispatch records and call info in discovery. You forget that.

              And that assumes there was any call. Diligens assumes that but it could be sheer coincidence. The fact that the cop drove up after he looked at the Subaru may be utterly unrelated. The cop could have been bored. I’ve regularly seen “bored cop” behavior in NYC of going 5 or 10 blocks full speed, sirens on and then turning the corner, turning the sirens off, and proceeding as if nothing had happened. They saw an empty run of avenue and wanted a little joy ride to liven up their slow shift.

              The cop may have been of the point of view that anyone out walking without a car was a vagrant or worse, and had decided to grill the guy before he say that his attire was upscale, as in once he’d wheeled his car around he was committed to his macho cop act.

              If there was a call, I doubt that the call or the dispatch log are even remotely consistent with depicting that anything was within haling distance of what is required in a non-stop and ID state like Mass to ask for ID.

              He’s also wealthy enough and connected enough to hire the right lawyers and get the press on his side. His attorneys could also demand logs on other demands for ID that didn’t lead to arrests to show a pattern of unwarranted demands for ID. Trust me, this would not go to trial and he’d get a settlement.

              Reply
              1. todde

                Judges and Juries do love wealthy people also.

                My original point was these laws exist and do allow cops to demand to see ID.

                I got a 30 hour stay in jail and a lecture from the judge for not giving my name.

                Reply
    1. Isotope_C14

      Don’t be silly Scott,

      Of course you are free in the USA!

      You are free to buy things! – If you happen to have Money though most don’t. So I guess freedom Comes from becoming a meth manufacturer or Organ salesman/procurement officer!

      I often wonder if Gene Roddenberry was channeling Wall Street when he made the Ferrengi. Though, Quark was was the best.

      I’m not sure any Country is free while Global Predatory Capitalists and their brainwashed minions run the planet in to a global climate catastrophy.

      I just hope if pseudo-sentient life *like ours*, ever re-evolves on this planet they find our artifacts and realize that it was we who destroyed ourselves for being unable to adapt intellectually to something as simple as societal organization, and to learn how to nullify the sociopathic behavior of the members of our species.

      Reply
  36. Rand T

    A few years back on a long trip, I pulled off of Interstate 8, about 20 miles east of Gila Bend, Arizona. It was about 11 PM, and I thought I could catch a few hours of sleep in my car.

    The road, rather ironically, is named Freeman Road. This is public land, part of the Sonoran Desert National Monument, and I have camped there on a few occasions without incident.

    About midnight I was awakened by my two dogs growling at something outside the car. Suspecting coyotes prowling nearby, I drowsily sat up to peer out the side window. I didn’t see anything outside but I noticed weird little red dots floating around the car like fireflies…and by now my dogs were barking furiously.

    Turning to look out the back window, it was a surreal cinema scene: a dozen or so dark figures stood, pointing weapons at me with laser sites. With their helmets, night vision goggles, and military rifles, I froze—assuming I was about to be shot by rampaging soldiers.

    A floodlight suddenly illuminated my vehicle, men screamed at me to “get your hands up!”, “get out of the vehicle!”, “hands in sight!”. Despite being half asleep and in shock, I thrust my hands up over my head and just kept them there. Not really possible to exit a vehicle with your hands over your head so I did not move.

    My Australian cattle dogs, about 60 pound each, were in a frenzy, and I tried to calm them down — without much success.

    Two men came to the door, opened it (fortunately, it was not locked), grabbed me — I kept my hands up — and yanked me out of the car. I was in my underwear and barefoot —so not many places to hide a weapon. I focused on making sure my dogs did not follow me as I was certain they would be killed.

    After being screamed at and jerked around for a few moments, someone demanded my ID. Fortunately, my wallet was in my jeans and a sheriff, under my direction, was able to retrieve it without needing to shoot my dogs — or me.

    After running my Arizona DL — and concluding, finally, no immediate rationale for arresting or shooting me — they allowed me to put on my shoes and clothes.

    These were Maricopa County Sheriff’s officers but they were dressed in camouflage and military gear with AR-15s — as if they were invading Iraq. (I suspect that they were on a military style training mission — and I was a convenient guinea pig.)

    Their justification for the treatment was that I “might” be a drug smuggler —and of course there are drug smugglers in southern Arizona. But they had not even bothered to run my AZ plates BEFORE rousting me from the vehicle with AR-15s so this seemed merely a convenient excuse.

    The location was about 80 miles from the border, and simply not possible for me to drive cross-country from Mexico.

    I asked a Sheriff if I was breaking a law by sleeping there — the answer was “no”. However, without any sense of irony, he informed me that it was not “safe” to camp there. No kidding.

    For the record, I am a conservative looking middle-aged white guy. (Of course, they didn’t know that before they ‘flushed’ me from the car.) If I were Latino or African-American maybe the outcome would have been a bit worse.

    I survived, obviously, but it was truly nerve-wracking. If I had made the slightest mistake in movement — or someone with an itchy trigger finger had ‘misinterpreted’ something — then I, and my dogs, would have been blasted into oblivion.

    And for killing me, these Sheriffs would have suffered absolutely nothing consequential. Rather I would be blamed for sleeping in a suspicious spot, keeping guard dogs in the vehicle with me, lunging for an imaginary gun — the typical ‘blame the victim’ rationalizations for death by police officer.

    This was my third encounter with aggressive Sheriffs (the other two belonged to Yuma County) for the crime of camping in my car (not a crime) off of an interstate. After this last encounter, it won’t happen again as I will no longer risk it: I’m afraid that my luck may run out during my next visitation from ‘peace’ officers.

    Tangentially, I traveled all over Australia, often sleeping in my car, without ever having a single police officer accost me, let alone surround me with automatic weapons in a military style assault.

    The problem, of course, is not that the majority of police officers are violent ‘brutes’ — that’s certainly not true.

    The problem is ZERO accountability for anyone in U.S. law enforcement who slaughters civilians: they can murder you without a whiff of a reasonable justification — and they are going to get away with it.

    Remember the old right-wing joke: if you don’t like cops, next time you’re being robbed, call a hippie.

    Good advice. Your chances of surviving an encounter with a hippie are a lot higher than an encounter with a U.S. police officer.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether

      > The problem is ZERO accountability for anyone in U.S. law enforcement who slaughters civilians: they can murder you without a whiff of a reasonable justification — and they are going to get away with it.

      Yep. And we know what happens to people with absolute power…

      Reply
  37. subgenius

    It strikes me that the reported incident is indicative of a growing trend. I have long considered law enforcement and security services to be essentially the biggest baddest gangs.

    They endlessly try to convince the general population of the dangers of their jobs, which any analysis will inform you as considerably LESS dangerous than being a resident of Oakland. They then game the lies they tell to increase both their egos and their willingness to operate beyond their legitimate powers.

    The trend is obvious, and it is only going to get worse (does anybody remember the California cop killer that led to 2 unarmed women getting a pickup of different make and color riddled with military grade ordinance a couple of years ago?).

    Push any system far enough it deforms and fails, generally catastrophically. The current dynamic appears to be one of moving to a rule by might. If it isn’t reigned back it will inevitably lead to resistance.

    I worry that tptb see the surveillance state as a capability that allows them to ‘surgically strike’ with ‘total information awareness’. Anybody that believes fantastic complexity is infallible hasn’t the experience to make this determination, imho.

    The results will be in keeping with the degree of the imbalance precipitating them. This dynamic is visible in many areas (climate, aggression, economics, politics, etc) and it baffles me that so little attention is being paid.

    Reply
  38. Joel

    I wish we could have a “#metoo”-style movement for people to share their “police encounter” stories. Sharing my story on here and reading other commenters’ stories has been therapeutic. Thank you, Yves, for this opportunity.

    Of course, such a movement would very quickly get slandered, privilege-checked and then co-opted out of existence, but it could be glorious while it lasted.

    Reply
  39. Watermelon

    Of course there’s a national interstate cooperation on ids ask anyone who’s attempted to get a drivers license with an active suspension in another state. Strangely enough I’ve heard people actually try that. And if the peeps at the DMVs have access to that of course law enforcement agencies would.
    I’m not a fan of stop and card I don’t think it’s beneficial for anyone. But in this case I think more than concern there’s this database is that now you know it exists maybe think that something should be done to make sure the people who work with access to it are properly trained, competent and at least not total aholes!

    Reply
  40. habenicht

    Reading this thread is sobering. The justifications that Sluggeaux mentions above and seeing the guidelines that the police use has me believe that more “swatting” is in our future (I characterize this event like swatting-lite).

    If reasonable suspicion is simply relying on any inflated story of a single caller, without any need to measure the reasonableness or the veracity of the claim to some kind of objective standard (no break in?, no damage?, no violence? peacefully left the premises?: yeah we better check out and harass that guy!), then I see a future where a lot more neighbors settle scores with their neighbors by calling the police with exaggerated claims (swatting).

    Also, as an individual who rarely caries ID as a pedestrian, I am curious what kind of fate I would have met in this instance? Would running my name be sufficient? Or would I get a ride back to my lodging to produce it? Or go straight to jail? Does anyone know?

    Reply
    1. Sluggeaux

      Well, at least ONE commenter got my point! “Swatting-Lite” is exactly what happened — I love your turn of phrase. The police are required to respond to calls reporting facts that look like “suspicious” activity. That’s the world we live in, like it or not. Many folks are the well-intentioned Neighborhood Crime-Prevention Watch types, but others are paranoid; some are idiots; a few are just plain jerks.

      It’s annoying, but having an awareness of this fact and being prepared to de-escalate the situation is going to get you back on your way faster than mounting a Quixotic challenge to authority. You CAN be briefly detained under rather thin circumstances, but no, unless either you or the cop is being a total d*ck, not having ID generally isn’t going to present a problem. They have computers for that!

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith Post author

        We don’t even know if there was a call. There was nothing in what the cop said that indicated that. This is an assumption by Diligens that may not be correct.

        And if Diligens had been willing to be arrested for not showing his ID, his lawyers in discovery could have found if there was any call and precisely what the police records said it said. There would be metadata so he could ascertain if they’d tried to alter it ex post facto. And his lawyers could also demand to see other records related to demands for ID to see if the police or that particular cop had a pattern of asking for ID without a bona fide legal basis.

        Reply
        1. Sluggeaux

          First of all, Diligens was never arrested. That much is clear. If he were to file the lawsuit of your fantasies, he’d never get past a Motion for Summary Judgment, let alone to Discovery. Furthermore, a Public Records request would very likely come up against a claim of confidentiality.

          Secondly, habenicht raises a very important and thoughtful point that nobody seems to have considered: that Diligens was “Swatted.”

          Hear me out: Massachusetts has quite a serious problem with social class conflict, in my experience. Ever heard of a “Masshole?” I have little doubt that the recent election of our Boor-in-Chief has only empowered people of that persuasion. I happen to know Diligens — without providing too much in the way of identifying detail I think that I may disclose that he has degrees from BOTH Harvard and M.I.T., and that he comports himself in a manner that one would associate with the class markers of such a pedigree. I have also personally seen Diligens be quite dismissive of bad thinking, albeit in my opinion without the slightest malicious intent on his part.

          Might it be possible that our Subaru-lover felt dissed by Diligens’ dismissal of his concerns and decided to “show that Cambridge pr*ck a thing or two?” Every cop-hater here seems to dismiss the Subaru-lover as “stupid” or “paranoid” — but we certainly shouldn’t rule out malice on the part of our Subaru-lover from our rank speculation…

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Are you now having a reading comprehension problem or are you choosing to straw man me? Had he refused to give his ID, the cop made clear he was going to arrest him. I have made clear several times that I have been playing that scenario out, as I did, that Diligens could have decided instead to make this a mini cause and held the vastly better hand if he did.

            Second, you are now massively over your skis in terms of speculation. As I said, there is NO concrete evidence any call was made by Mr. Subaru. The cop made no reference to it. The cop could merely have deemed “man walking with no car in sight” to be worth an ID shakedown, despite the lack of any legally “reasonable” basis for doing so.

            And you forget that Diligens comes from nearby and has a LOCAL accent. And on top of that, you have no idea what the class of Subaru owner was. I can tell you in coastal Maine, which is culturally similar to Mass, you have lots of well off people who own Subarus. It’s seen as a family person’s car that is sturdy enough and has a high enough wheelbase to use for going off road occasionally.

            You are now constructing fantasies out of whole cloth to justify your position. Do you comprehend how ridiculous this looks to objective readers?

            When you are in a hole, quit digging.

            Reply
            1. Sluggeaux

              That’s not a hole that I’ve dug, it’s a bunker, sandbagged with 34 years of experience very successfully litigating criminal cases! Talk about rank speculation — read YOUR OWN COMMENTS! This post and comment thread contain almost nothing BUT speculation, subjective navel-gazing, and ignorant posturing, with Yves leading the circular firing squad! Talk about ridiculous…

              People around here need to check their privilege. The point of my original comment (if you had bothered to carefully read it) is that what happened to Diligens could happen to any one of us, and that immediately engaging in a confrontation with a police officer is a very poor strategy and a good way to spend an uncomfortable night in jail that no number of lawyers are ever going to get you back.

              Reply
              1. Lambert Strether

                > Yves leading the circular firing squad!

                Lambert’s First Law of Moderation: “Those who most pride themselves on their strategic acumen always end up insulting the moderator.”

                (Thereby disqualifying themselves from any pretense to universal strategic acumen, I might add.)

                It never fails!

                Do feel free to consult the site policies in this regard; “insulting your hosts” is a bannable offense, comparable to throwing your drink in your hosts’ face.

                Reply
              2. ebbflows

                So from an antiquarian perspective you’re a slave because you give away rights under the duress of force or confinement.

                Reply
              3. Yves Smith Post author

                As I said, you look only more ridiculous with every comment. And you haven’t persuaded a single person who has commented on this thread either.

                In response to my comment devoted entirely to pointing out in detail how you were speculating even more and pointing out what was not factual and offering information that countered your wild speculation. I could add more facts, like Diligens not only grew up nearby but came from a blue collar family in a blue collar town, and was the first in his family to go to college, yet you depict him as incapable of coming off as anything other than an elitist. I also know vastly more about class conflict in New England than you do, coming from a family that has been there for literally hundreds of years, attained no social prominence, has been in coastal areas that attract wealthy “summer people” and “highlanders. ” For you, a native Californian from a Hispanic family, to try to school me (and Diligens, who is a native New Englander) on this topic is pretty rich.

                Yet you turn around, engage in massive projection, and accuse me of speculation, precisely the behavior you’ve engaged in.

                And yes, I’ve descended to your level and insulted you because you’ve been over the top in engaging in personal denigration and I am more easily baited than I should be.

                Straw manning is a second violation of our Policies, and you’ve done that repeatedly in this thread. I’ve banned you. Any e-mails to me will be automatically filtered to trash.

                Reply
      2. Lambert Strether

        > You CAN be briefly detained under rather thin circumstances, but no, unless either you or the cop is being a total d*ck, not having ID generally isn’t going to present a problem. They have computers for that!

        The cop not being a total dick strikes me as being a massive qualifier, given other commenters’ experiences on this thread. Not sure if “at the end of my shift, overtime available” or “the town budget needs the money from traffic fines” or “driving or walking while black” (or, for that matter, “walking”) come under the “total dick” heading or not.

        Because I’m really a moderate kind of guy, abolishing the police and prisons has never struck me as sound public policy. After reading the back-and-forth on this thread, those concepts are coming up on the charts for me. Just one more way our political economy is in terrible, terrible shape.

        Reply
        1. Yves Smith Post author

          And the ability to find someone in a database by name only isn’t a given either. People trying to find me, including a government authority that thinks I own some real estate that I don’t, have the wrong coordinates for me and one of my siblings. In Manhattan alone, there are several women with my name; I’ve to get my credit record corrected because one of them got her dud credit mixed with mine. So don’t tell me identifying someone by name only works. The cops on a power trip want ID for a reason

          Reply
  41. Wukchumni

    Have to even it out with a good cop story…

    Sometime before the end of the century, I make an illegal U-turn on Central in Glendale, a motorcycle cop sees me and the red lights glare told me law enforcement would soon be here, so caught.

    “That was an illegal U-turn sir, license & registration please.”

    He goes back to his ride and comes back just a minute later, and asks

    “How long have you been living at the house on the address on your i.d.?”

    And I tell him a couple years, and he tells me that’s the house he grew up in, and a few minutes of memories later, he lets me off with a smile and a friendly handshake.

    Best ending ever!

    Reply
    1. Joel

      How can you not see that that is an example of *bad* policing?

      It’s the classic case of how policing is arbitrary and open to abuse. Given residential patterns, if you aren’t the same race/income range as the officer, for instance, you would not be living in his old hood.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether

        ““That’s the way it was. Privilege, which just means ‘private law.’ Two types of people laugh at the law; those that break it and those that make it.” — Sam Vimes

        So of course it’s about property, though I’m glad you didn’t get arrested because who wants that?

        Reply
  42. todde

    It seems to depend on whether you’re an investment banker or not.

    I went straight to jail, but I wouldn’t give the cop my name.

    Here’s the story:

    Walked to the corner store to get some smokes. Group of kids hanging out, some I know. I say hi.

    As I am buying my smokes, two cop cars pull up and start questioning the people outside. As they are arresting a young girl, I go outside and ask the group why is she getting arrested.

    She’s a run away they say. I loudly reply with something like “50 taking another hardened criminal off the streets’

    Cop: What’s your name? Show me some ID?
    Me: What’s your name, Johnny.
    A little more back and forth and the cop tells me I am under arrest.
    “why am I being arrested?”
    “because, family blog you, that’s why.”

    Go to County and the paperwork gets processed b4 noon, you see a judge at 3 to post bail. Guess who’s paperwork didn’t get upstairs in time?

    Spend the night in jail, get to the judge the next day, charges are dropped but I get a 5 minute lecture from the judge about how lucky I am that I am not being charged.

    Reply

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