Forgive me, for this is about to be a long damn post.
I will start right off the bat with this statement regarding my general view of many city/county/state policemen: The (TRUE) primary function of highway patrol, county constables, (also sheriff's deputies) code enforcement, traffic control, etc, is ancillary revenue generation. I do not believe that cops should be "lying in wait," often times either outright obstructing traffic (just sitting in a left turn lane with no lights on, or literally just stopped in the right lane, or worse; illegally parked on some private citizen's property--we don't quarter troops here anymore, not since that war with Britain) praying on citizens, waiting for them to go by speeding a little, or not signaling, or whatever true victimless crime you want to come up with. Here (in Texas) that has become less of a problem with advents such as not having ticket quotas, determining that red light cameras aren't really okay (another fun topic for another day. If you get a red light ticket anywhere in the state of Texas, tear it up and forget about it. It's an optional request for revenue by the city that issued you it to you. And by the city, I mean their contract company, Lockheed Martin.) and other such recent protections.
...But I digress. I respect police officers, their authority, and the other essential functions they provide, when they provide them. I always treat every LEO I encounter with respect, dignity, and compassion, just as I would anyone else I'd meet in public. That's just human decency, and my mothers' teachings. Despite my general distrust and disenchantment with the worst parts of their profession, they do deserve respect where respect is due.
I have had more than several encounters with city, county, and state level law enforcement officers. All but one of them have been completely fine. All but a couple of them I've walked away with a warning, or even just some information on a situation. The payable citations I have received have been for moving violations, and I was in fact breaking the law during those occurrences, and have no problem admitting that, and didn't have an issue with paying the fine. (Again, I'm not so cool with predatory revenue generation, but 86 in the 60 is probably a little fast, and you don't have to be hiding behind a bush with a radar gun to figure out someone is speeding big time in that situation.)
With all that being said, here was my one super enjoyable, awesome encounter with a not-so-friendly Texas DPS
At the time I was bouncing between El Paso and Fort Worth, TX
for one of my aviation jobs. One particular group of days off I decided that instead of flying back home to Dallas, me and a buddy of mine would go hang out with my uncle and his family up in Amarillo, TX
for the weekend. My normal car was back at home, so we just took his Maxima up there. The shortest way to drive from ELP
is to actually cut through a big chunk of New Mexico. For those of you who have ever had to drive through New Mexico, I'm sorry. I have never quite found the Land of Enchantment. Or at least places like Hobbs, Clovis, Carlsbad, have all been somehow purposely left out of that "paradise."
So it's like 1900 or 2000 Texas time when we cross back into home turf on US 180 just east of Hobbs. I believe this is Gaines county, Home to the big city of Seminole. Another great place. Anyways, the actual speed limit goes back up to 75MPH, as is the new standard for open highway in Texas. (Yes some places are 80 and 85, but this was a little 2-lane US Highway in BFE
.) I am driving the car at this point, and I set the cruise EXACTLY at 75. MAYBE it was at like, say, 75.2135, but in no way any higher than that. (Also note that this was recent enough that night speed limits had already been abolished. Another stupid law and way to get more money, but thankfully no more.) And as usual, a few miles into the state, we pass a state trooper illegally parked/trespassing on somebody's ranch driveway waiting for bad guys. I don't think anything of it until I see him whip out onto the road, speed up behind me, and throw on his lights. I am sure I probably looked over at my friend and said something along the lines of 'the hell does this guy want?
Being slightly confused, but heading the law, I promptly slow down and pull completely off the road. I don't like cops, but I certainly don't want them to get run over by some drunk farmer's F-250. Per my standard procedure, I roll down the window, and turn the car completely off and turn on the interior lights of the car. I'm not really afraid of dying, but I'd rather not be executed for scratching my knee or moving my hand like .25mm when talking to the officer. I also pull out my license and my buddy hands me the insurance paper for his car. The cop does whatever cops do in that forever 45 seconds after you stop and they haven't gotten out of their car yet, and then walks up all friendly like. He introduces himself and says he's with DPS
and that the reason I am being stopped this evening is for me speed. I look him dead in the eye and politely inform him that unless the speed limit was lower than 75MPH, I wasn't aware in any way that I was breaking the speed limit. He replies that I was going well over the speed limit, but never tells me what the limit was (it was most definitely 75, I checked) nor does he mention what my alleged speed is. I don't dispute him and hand over my license and papers and he studies them for a second and asks if the car is mine, and of course I tell him no, the owner of the car is sitting next to me and that I have permission to be driving the car. The cop seems fine with this, hands me back the car's papers, and asks me if I have a firearm in the car. I reply yes, we have three, would you like to see (both) of our CHL's. The officer declines, but asks me to step outside of the car. This should have maybe been a small red flag, but I have been asked to exit my car before once they find out I have a gun. (Usually they also ask where it is and I tell them, and they say okay cool can you step outside the car to presumably separate me from my completely lawfully owned and registered weapon.) So I get out of the car and start to head over to the passenger side of the car because I assume he doesn't want to stand on the shoulder, but he asks me to get in the squad car. THIS is my first red flag. I remember saying something along the lines of "Uhh...like in the back?" He laughs and says no, just get into the front passenger seat, I don't want to stand outside. Ok. Fine. Weird, but fine. We get in his car, and I honestly don't think too much of it either because A) All my dealings with the DPS
have been fine, and B) There is a huge rack of tactical firearms between the driver and passenger seats, and if he doesn't trust me, he wouldn't put me within arms reach of like 4 guns. So after he shuts his door he runs my license in his magical crystal ball computer and asks me the basic nonsense about if my address is right on my license, where I am headed, if I do any illegal drugs (like 5 cops have asked me this...I don't do drugs, but honestly do they think I'm stupid enough to answer that question truthfully if I do??) and then all my info comes back through the computer as fine/not a terrorist/not wanted, and whatever other useless little facts they keep in the database. He says well you seem like a good kid so I am going to let you off with a warning. I am very polite through this whole exchange and even though I know for a fact he is dead-ass lying about his accusation of me speeding, I pretend to be grateful to not be getting a real ticket for a law that I never broke. So I am thinking to myself that we are done here. I think I even reached for the door handle a little and he stops me and is like wait....I have some more questions. So give him a look like...uh okay what do you need to know? And he asks me why I am going to Amarillo...I think for the 2nd time, so I tell him (again) that we are going to see my family up there for the weekend. He nods and scratches his chin, and says, so how long have you known your friend. At this point I'm starting to get impatient and a little pissed. I say, awhile. He just looks at me for a second and says...you know there are a lot of drug problems in ELP
. (I don't think I replied to that statement, just starred at him.) And continues on to say...And I think it's weird that you are traveling through this part of the state, and I need to know where you met your friend because I am trying to figure out if there is a crime going on here. ..
And that's when I go into shutdown/time-to-assert-my-rights mode.
I look at him and say, "Officer, you pulled me over for allegedly speeding. We have discussed and closed that issue. I have cooperated with you fully, and we have established that I have no other outstanding issues. What I am doing, where I am going, and who I am with are frankly not your business. At this point I need to know if I am being detained, or if I am free to go."
And of course they will never answer that question because they hate it. They don't want to admit to you that they have no reason to detain you other than to be an ass or pick on innocent people.
I think that really threw him off guard because yells in my face (all being recorded by the cabin cam, mind you) "LOOK WE CAN DO
THIS THE EASY WAY OR
THE HARD WAY! I CAN
RUIN YOUR NIGHT. I WILL MAKE YOUR LIFE HELL." So I calmly repeat myself. "Officer am I free to go? Am I being detained?" He looks at me for a second and picks up his radio and says he has a situation and he needs backup ASAP. I think I actually smiled at this point because this guy was totally losing his cool and I am just sitting there wanting to leave. He acts all proud like "ooh now you're getting it, all 4 of the Gaines County cops are gonna come teach you a lesson" Then he says "I'm giving you one last chance. I think there is something going on and I need to search your car." And I flatly tell him no, you absolutely may not enter the vehicle, open any compartments or touch anything. I can't stop you from shining your light in the windows, but there is nothing there that would give you probably cause for anything else. There is a McDonalds bag in the back." He doesn't seem to like that answer, and I guess he decides maybe he can get somewhere with my friend, who by the way, is still sitting in the passenger seat thinking "Why the hell is taking so long."
I'd consider myself relatively Libertarian. Unfortunately the cop that night found out that my friend is the extreme of that political believe. My friend had already figured out something was amiss when the cop childishly stomped up to the car (I was just sitting in the passenger of the squad car watching) and told him to get out. I couldn't hear exactly what my buddy said at the time, but it was essentially, "Am I being detained, am I free to go." The cop finally told him to get out of the car because he wanted him away from the weapons, and my friend did cooperate once the cop told him the reason, but the cop very quickly figured out he was going to get nowhere with my friend, and that a "I'm bored, so let's search your car with absolutely no probable cause" game wasn't going to work.
By this time all 2 of the cops within like 100 miles had shown up and they had a pow-wow about how they were going to handle these (us) two non-cooperative, law-abiding, informed-of-their-rights, military, white, male, never-had-been-convicted-of-anything-but-speeding, gentlemen they were now illegally detaining. Finally I guess they decided they didn't want to wait around long enough for a K9 unit to show up (so they could make it bark and tear apart the car and find nothing, but not be responsible for any damages) and sniff out the car for our so-called drugs or whatever they "thought" we were trafficking. A different cop came over, told me I could get out of the cop car, and that we were free to go.
I think I maybe responded "ok."
That ordeal ended up wasting 2 hours of my life. Now you could say "Well you should have just answered the cop's questions, and he'd have let you go." But here's the thing, People, where do we as citizens draw that line? From the moment he gave me the warning and pretty much wrapped up the ONLY REASON he had told me he had stopped me for, that should have been it. I am sorry, but originating from ELP
does not give one probable cause for suspected drug trafficking. You have to stand up for your rights. And the worst part was, I wasn't even doing anything wrong. And I wasn't ever rude to the cop, I just got tired of playing his game after about 20 minutes.
So since that time, I now have a camera in my car that always films the interior, exterior, and I have an app on my phone that will record video and upload it as it records, so if this ever happens again, I will have more than just "my word against theirs." Because that's not good enough.
Okay /rant. If you have made it this far, I am sorry for wasting the last 30 minutes of your life.
[Edited 2015-04-13 01:22:26]