The Government will never abuse it’s power to stop you for not wearing a seatbelt.
We see stuff like this, and either say “it won’t happen here because we have the right people in charge”, which is just stupid, or we don’t make the connection between this obvious overreach of power and giving the government more power.
This story highlights a couple of things:
- The war on drugs leads to horrific violations of individual rights.
- Allowing the government to confiscate property from people suspected of drug law violations is a crime
- A dog ‘alert’ is not probable cause.
When Pompton Lakes police seized Darren Richardson’s car on a rainy September afternoon, they told him it was headed for an impound lot. When they returned it three weeks later, he says, the 2004 BMW belonged in a junk yard.
The instrument cluster and leather dashboard were gone. The caramel-colored seats were torn up. The gear shift was ripped out and stray wires hung limp everywhere. Geico, Richardson’s insurance company estimated the damage at $12,636.42 — more than he paid for the car — and declared the vehicle a “total loss.”
According to police reports, the damage to the black BMW 325i came in the aftermath of a traffic stop during which officers detected a “strong odor of raw marijuana” inside the vehicle. Searching for a cache of drugs, members of three different police agencies and a detective from a federal drug task force spent two days tearing the car apart, the reports said.
So what did police find after their $12,000 search?
Now to me, it doesn’t matter what they found, but it’s important to lots of other people, who think it’s just fine to ignore individual rights if we get bad guys. (See also: TSA). Those people are ignorant sheep.
Before you get indignant, mouthing off to a cop isn’t a crime, and in some cases is our duty.
If anyone thinks any officer will be held responsible or that the state will reimburse the insurance company after the investigation, I’ve got some nice waterfront property for you. They will find the officers acted appropriately, maybe even congratulate them.
The Long Beach police department will detain you if your pictures don’t have esthetic value.
“If an officer sees someone taking pictures of something like a refinery,” says McDonnell, “it is incumbent upon the officer to make contact with the individual.” McDonnell went on to say that whether said contact becomes detainment depends on the circumstances the officer encounters.
McDonnell says that while there is no police training specific to determining whether a photographer’s subject has “apparent esthetic value,” officers make such judgments “based on their overall training and experience” and will generally approach photographers not engaging in “regular tourist behavior.”
This policy apparently falls under the rubric of compiling Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) as outlined in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Special Order No. 11, a March 2008 statement of the LAPD’s “policy … to make every effort to accurately and appropriately gather, record and analyze information, of a criminal or non-criminal nature, that could indicate activity or intentions related to either foreign or domestic terrorism.”
Among the non-criminal behaviors “which shall be reported on a SAR” are the usage of binoculars and cameras (presumably when observing a building, although this is not specified), asking about an establishment’s hours of operation, taking pictures or video footage “with no apparent esthetic value,” and taking notes.
That this is even considered reasonable should scare you.