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|User Info||Pay Attention America: The Fourth Reich Is Shooting People!; entered at 2013-02-08 10:03:29|
Here's an inconsequential story that I think demonstrates a similar law enforcement mindset. I was pulled over by a highway patrol officer in central Kansas last Friday for what I suspect was no reason at all - other than that he wanted to look in my car.|
I was in a rental car with Texas plates and left Colorado at 3:00 AM to head back to Texas. I was on I-70 heading east around 9:00 AM with cruise control set to 75.
In my rear view mirror, I noticed a white sedan with a black spotlight on the driver's side gaining on me from the rear, and I expected he was going to pass me - perhaps headed to assist someone.
Wrong. When he pulled even with me, he slowed and started pacing me. Not for 10-15 seconds, but for over a minute. Door to door at 75 mph. Had I not had my cruise control set, I probably would have flinched and either slowed down or sped up slightly, and had I sped up even a smidge, I have no doubt he would have pulled me over right then.
Instead, he dropped back into my blind spot, stayed there for about 45 seconds, then pulled behind me and hit his lights. I immediately pulled over, rolled down my windows, and put my hands at 10 and 2.
When he approached (on the passenger's side) the first words out of my mouth were "good morning, why did you pull me over?" and he didn't have a very good answer. His first answer was - I couldn't tell if you had your seat belt on or not (and all of this time, he's eyeballing the inside of my rental car). Yep, it's on, I told him. Then he asked - is this a rental car? And when I replied that it was, he said, well, it didn't come up when I ran the plate.
Two problems I can see with that explanation - first, I don't see when he would have had time to run the plate. He came up from behind me pretty quickly, and was at my side for most of the time we were close. And when he did swing around behind me, he hit the lights within 5 seconds. Second, the Hertz rental car I was in had more than 20k miles on it. I'm guessing that's more than enough time for it to be registered in whatever databases it's supposed to be in.
Next, the cop asked me for my license and wanted to know what I did for a living and where I was going. If something like this ever happens again, I'll be mentally ready for it and have my cell phone camera going and my thoughts better organized, but in this case I was flustered and nervous since I haven't been pulled over in well over a decade. So I told him what he wanted to know and then he let me go.
But for the rest of the trip, I stewed over what had happened, and I'm wondering if this guy violated my 4th amendment rights (or was just trying to). Also, before any of that happened, I realized that HE BROKE THE LAW himself.
I was doing the speed limit, and he caught up with me from behind, so he was exceeding the speed limit with no lights flashing and no siren. Cops don't have special privileges to do that sort of thing, right?
My guess as to what happened is this: there's a certain plant that's more or less legal to grow in Colorado these days. There are probably people who take advantage of that fact to export said plant to other states. An SUV with Texas plates traveling East out of Colorado in the middle of nowhere early in the morning, might make a highway patrol officer suspicious and want to take a closer look in the vehicle.
If the cop did have a reason to cite me for something (even going one mile over the speed limit), I'm guessing the stop would have gone somewhat differently, and with the threat of a ticket hanging over my head, I might have gotten a "friendly" request if he could take a closer look through my vehicle before, you know... letting me go. :)
I had nothing to hide, so even if things had gone that way, I would have been fine (I hope). But it was a chilling realization.
The Kansas highway patrol does have a complaints number - but it goes to a division that's WITHIN the highway patrol. So I decided against using it since I figured the most that would happen is that my name gets on a list somewhere.
The best thing I could do in response to this, I decided, was to make sure I have a better understanding of my rights and the constraints on what the police can legally do to harass you so that I won't be so rattled if something like this should ever happen in the future.