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Watch where that hand is going please

Snippets from a real conversation that took place last Saturday evening at 1 am. I was in the midst of getting frisked and then having my car searched by an officer of the Madison County Sheriff's Office near Wolftown, VA. While he had me pulled over, ostensibly for having license plate lamp burned out (it wasn't by the way), two Virginia State Troopers pulled up in separate cars. They got out and "observed" me while the procedure was taking place. The officer who asked me to get out of my car and asked if he could search the car said I was driving up a road (US Route 29)That was a major drug running corridor for the region. It was about 20 degrees out with a wind blowing.

Officer: Sir, do you have any weapons on you?
Wander: I have a big honkin' knife on my hip.
Officer: Mind if I hold it for a bit?
Wander: Nope

He hands it to one of the state cops.

He pats down my front right jeans pocket but fails to comment on the knife I have there.
Then he pats down my shirt and is very interested in a large lumpy bundle I have in my left breast pocket.

Officer: Sir, what's in this pocket?
Wander: Necklaces.
Officer: Necklaces?
Wander: Yes Sir.
Officer: Why do you have a pocket full of necklaces?
Wander: I was at a Shawnee Fall Council meeting all day and they are part of my regalia.
Officer: Mind if I have a look?
Wander: Nope.

He unbuttons my pocket, fishes out the necklaces, looks let down and stuffs them back in my pocket.

Then he proceeds to search my car. I chat with the two state cops. Tell them I used to take this road as a shortcut to avoid cops on I-81 when I went to VA Tech in the early 80's. They proceed to tell me all the good shortcuts where there are no speed traps.


Officer:*holds up a film canister* what's in here Sir?
Wander: Film Sir.
Officer: *looks inside* Oh.

Continues to search. Finds a steak knife in my emergency supplies kit.

Officer: What's this knife for Sir?
Wander: Cutting meat Sir?
Officer: Oh, OK.

Opens my shaving kit. Squeezes some toothpaste out of my toothpaste container and sniffs it. Keeps on searching. Finds my medicine box where I keep my stones, feathers and other things for doing my healing and journey work. Opens the sliding lid. Is holding two eagle feathers in his hand, a bald and a golden, each of which carry a $10,000 federal fine and asks about the stones in the box.

Officer: What are all these rocks sir?
Wander: Quartz mostly, some fluorite, some turquoise, a bit of lapis lazuli I think too.
Officer: OK

Finds my knapsack and takes out a hand carved antler pipe that was originally not carved for tobacco use if you get my meaning.

Officer: Is this a tobacco pipe Sir?
Wander: I sometimes smoke kinnikinnik it it Sir but yes, it's a ceremonial tobacco pipe.
Officer: OK

I go back to joking with the two state cops who like me are shivering in the cold. We are all shuffling around trying to keep moving and stay warm.

Officer: What are these little round whitish/grey things in your denim jacket pocket Sir?
Wander: Those would be Cherokee Corn Beads. They were a gift from a Penobscott friend of mine.
Officer: OK

Continues to search and all of a sudden, gets up on his feet. He's holding a large oblong package wrapped in off-white cloth and he's sort of smiling. The state cops stop talking and look at him. I look at him.

Officer: And what is in this package Sir?
Wander: *trying not to laugh* A Virginia Ham Sir.
State Cop #1: Man, that sounds good right about now!
State Cop #2: I'd have thought you had enough of that at Thanksgiving.
State Cop #1: Never can get enough good ham!
State Cop #2: Where did you get a ham that big. Must be 10 pounds?
Wander: Sperryville Emporium. It's 13 pounds.
State Cop #2: yeah Man, you can get everything at the Sperryville Emporium.
Officer: I think we are done here. You can go now Sir. Here's your knife back. Drive safe.

They all stand around and chat as I get my freezing ass back in my car and drive off. Initially when he asked for my license and registration, I handed him a registration that was a year old because in Illinois they never ask you for registration. It didn't seem to faze him though. He never even wrote up the burnt out license lamp which was not burned out. If he'd looked far enough back, he would have found I had gotten my Virginia license revoked in 1985 for drag racing. Nope, they were just out to stop the drug runners I guess. Glad I could entertain them for awhile.

Wander

Comments

( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
beautyofgrey
Dec. 1st, 2007 01:45 am (UTC)
I'm jealous! How come nothing interesting like this ever happens to me!

Great. Now I have to get dragoneerl to frisk me.
wander
Dec. 1st, 2007 02:43 am (UTC)
I'd have frisked you if you ever asked me to. No one ever asks me to frisk them. I'm sure his dragon self would love the chance.

W
(Anonymous)
Dec. 1st, 2007 03:15 am (UTC)
Heh, well, I'm frisk-friendly. We could make it a group frisking. :P



wander
Dec. 1st, 2007 03:13 pm (UTC)
I just love it when I get anonymous comments like this. Now I've got a whole range of people running through my mind I'd like to frisk.

W
grimmbear
Dec. 1st, 2007 02:07 am (UTC)
Wow, That was terrible. Do you get stopped often?

Did you feel a need to cleanse your items after the search?
wander
Dec. 1st, 2007 02:42 am (UTC)
That was later in the day when I was formally voted into the Shawnee Nation. I found it funny more than anything. I don't get stopped often anymore. Very unusual actually. As for my medicine items, I have a ritual to do tomorrow anyway and I usually smudge everything beforehand, so I wasn't worried about it. I've got a very powerful crystal in the box. Consider it a holy object. I doubt it could be tarnished.

W
prairiesong
Dec. 1st, 2007 04:33 am (UTC)
Wow.

And you sounded cool as a cucumber.
wander
Dec. 1st, 2007 03:14 pm (UTC)
It was a day of extreme emotional highs. I don't think anyone could have diminished my mood that day. Plus I was tired and I was freezing my ass off standing there in the cold. Given other circumstances I might not have been so cool about it.

W
boomshak
Dec. 1st, 2007 08:26 am (UTC)
That is CRAZY. What probable cause did they have for searching your vehicle?

Friggin Patriot Act! Thanks a lot Bush.
kittles
Dec. 1st, 2007 10:55 am (UTC)
He consented.
wander
Dec. 1st, 2007 03:20 pm (UTC)
Yep, I did and I was thinking the whole time about the best way to handle it. Guess I need to bone up on search and seizure laws. But I was wondering if I said no, does that give them a reason to detain me until a warrant can be obtained. And then if they obtain a warrant they could make an issue of those two eagle feathers and would I be sitting there on the side of the road for the next three hours while they get a warrant. I figured it was just easier all the way around to let them search. Also, they were very nice about the whole thing.

W
kittles
Dec. 1st, 2007 07:56 pm (UTC)
It *could* but only if they have "articulable reasonable suspicion" that there was contraband in the car. And it's gotta be more than "he has long hair and he's carrying hippie stuff around in a box."

Only they don't have to articulate it to *you* so you could have been stuck in limbo while they waited for a judge to turn them down. However, cops will often ask for consent when we have a "hunch" but nothing to back it up and we know we have no chance of getting a warrant.

However, even if they do have RS and you are applying for the warrant, they still can't detain *you* for more than a reasonable period for a traffic stop (upper limit of 30 minutes) so you'd be cut loose and they'd keep your car. They'd then tow it, tape it up, and wait for the warrant, and you'd have to get it out of hock later (at their expense).

And no, refusing a search does not create RS.
boomshak
Dec. 1st, 2007 08:54 pm (UTC)
yes, but WHY did they want to search in the first place? No good reason.
kittles
Dec. 1st, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC)
I'm Officer Friendly.
My guess (totally a guess) is that he saw (a) wander's long hair (cops have an Apparent-Hippie bias and like it or not, long hair is a hippie feature) and/or (b) *something* in the car that looked suspicious (boxes, film canisters, the feathers, a pipe, what have you) that piqued their interest.

If you're ever in that situation, after it's all done you should just ask them - "hey, out of curiosity, what made you decide to search?". I often tell people. I'll say "well, I saw the X and usually when I see X there's drugs in there..." or "we're looking for a car matching this description that was seen leaving a robbery about an hour ago" just so they know I didn't stop/search them for no reason. I find people are a lot friendlier if they can see your side of things.

For example. We have had a string of car break-ins in one particular block. They all happen around 2am. Last week I was patrolling that block at that time and I saw a man dressed in dark clothing carrying a backpack walking down the street. I stopped him and ID's him and he was having a FIT about being "harassed" right up until I explained the break-in thing to him and said "now I hope you can understand how seeing someone dressed in dark clothes and carrying a pack at this time of night in this area would raise my suspicions given that info about the break-ins." At which point he then understood why he was stopped and no longer was thinking I was just stopping him for no reason just to harass him.

I'm a libertarian, so I tend to be more citizen-friendly than most. :)
piscesdreams
Dec. 1st, 2007 09:08 am (UTC)
I never have that much fun!
wander
Dec. 1st, 2007 03:21 pm (UTC)
Next time you are in the states, I'll tell you what road to drive down to have this much fun.

W
piscesdreams
Dec. 2nd, 2007 04:23 am (UTC)
"... your mileage may vary..."
Ha ha!!!
kittles
Dec. 1st, 2007 10:55 am (UTC)
I have NEVER found actual film (or anything other than drugs) in a film canister on someone I've searched. ;) Although they are very handy - I use them at home to keep up with all my little computer hardware screws.

Nice of you to consent to the search when you could've told them to sod off. ;)
wander
Dec. 1st, 2007 03:26 pm (UTC)
I'm probably that one in a million photography geek who actually carries film around in film canisters. Also they make good fishing bobbers in a pinch. In this case, the film was exposed and needed to be developed.

See my response to your comment above on why I let him search. Does saying no give probable cause, enough to get a warrant? And can they find reasons to detain you until they do?

W
kittles
Dec. 1st, 2007 07:57 pm (UTC)
Let me know my reply didn't answer both those questions satisfactorily. :)
chimerae
Dec. 1st, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC)
I kept thinking Madison, WISCONSIN . . . NOW it makes sense
kaersaij
Dec. 2nd, 2007 05:20 am (UTC)
Very amusing. Thank you for that, sir. :)
tfcocs
Dec. 7th, 2007 06:02 am (UTC)
I found your journal this evening through our mutual friend yndy. I like your writing style; the description is lovely. FWIW, I plan to add you to my reading list, and invite you to reciprocate.
wander
Dec. 7th, 2007 06:07 am (UTC)
Much appreciated and I'll do the same.

W
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )