Saturday, July 3, 2010

Roadside "safety" checks

Tonight was a busy night, I rode a motorcycle 100 miles to go do some work, then 100 miles back.   It was a really nice day to ride, the sun was out in the day, the temperature was just right, and driving was uneventful.   On the way back, it was a little chilly, and I got sucked into a Roadside "safety" check in Palatine at Harper College.   Upon pulling in they asked me to get off my bike, and I complied, taking off my gloves, then helmet so I could have the dexterity to get my license from my pocket.   Handing them the license, they seemed surprised that there was a little "M" on it as they examined it for what seemed to be minutes.   They held on to it while they asked me a bunch of questions, seemingly harmless, but I know better than to assume that.  The conversation went something very similar to this:
Officer: "Where are ya' coming from tonight?"

Me: "From work, just heading home."

Officer: "Where do you work that you're driving so late?"

Me: "Sir, it's kind of late, I'd like to get home, am I free to go?"

Officer: "Not quite yet, this is a roadside safety check, we need to make sure you're wearing your seatbelt,
and you're not driving impaired."

Me: "Since it's a motorcycle and it has no seatbelt, and I am not impaired, am I free to go?"

Officer: "Why are you in such a hurry, are you hiding something?"

Me: "I would just like to get home, that's all, may I go now?"

Officer: "What's in your backpack?"

Me: "My belongings."

Officer: "What exactly is in the bag."

Me: "The exact belongings I chose to bring with me today."

Officer: "Since you're not hiding anything, you wouldn't mind if I took a look at your belongings, would you?"

Me: "I would mind very much, I do not consent to any searches."

Officer: "What are you hiding that you don't want me to look?"

Me: "I'm hiding nothing, I simply don't consent to any searches."

Officer: "Wait here, I have to get the sergeant for this."(officer leaves for 15 minutes, talks to another officer, the new officer walks over to me)

Officer 2: "I understand you're hiding something in that backpack sir!?"

Me: "I'm sorry, there seems to be a communication meltdown sir, I am hiding nothing, I simply will not consent to any searches, I apologize if this bothers you, am I free to go now?"

Officer 2: "No, you're not free to go yet!"

Me: "So I'm being detained?"

Officer 2: "No, we're just not done with the safety check."

Me: "I fail to see how anything inside my backpack could be related to my riding safety, so since I'm not being detained, am I free to go?"

Officer 2: "No, we aren't done here."

Me: "Well, I'm done here, so if I'm not being detained, we're already passed what I think is an acceptable amount of time for a Terry stop.

Officer 2: "Look, whatever you think you know, you're the reason this stop is taking longer than necessary."

Me: "Why?  What is so tantalizing about my off-limits bag of mystery?"

Officer 1: (returns with a dog) This dog is looking for drugs.

Me: "How well trained is he in sniffing out drugs?"

Officer 1: "He can sniff out even tiny amounts!"

Me: "That's really cool!  Has he found any tonight?"

Officer 1: "quite a few tonight."

Me: "Great!  So why isn't he going crazy with that scent around?"

Officer 1: "Umm..  he.. uhh...  knows those aren't illegal?"

Officer 2: "He's a remarkably trained dog"

Me: "Since we're obviously just going to be making stuff up all night, I'm going to head home, you guys have a good night, I hope your busts go really well."

Officer 1: "umm there is umm"

Officer 2: "We've completed the safety inspection, thank you for wearing a Helmet sir, I know it's optional, drive safe now."

Officer 1: Have a good night sir.

-------------End of Interactions---------------

What bothers me the most, is they are using something mysterious like dogs, and then lying about what the dog tells them.   Had I not called them out on their bluff, they would have told me something like: "The dog signaled, we have to search your bag."  The dog "signal" has never really been defined so that the public would know what it is, and the police use this fact to their advantage.   They also seem hell-bent on searching everything on everyone.  I saw a number of cars come in, and the police went through the whole car, the people didn't even resist a little.... but were quick to call out bullshit when they got cuffed.

You're losing your right to be secure in your own belongings Illinois... this is your warning!

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