Thursday, August 14, 2008

Being accused of being a heroin addict and using my teacher parking sticker to go free

Only nominally teaching-related, but I was lost in the Pigtown area on Saturday, looking for my friend's place right off of Washington Blvd., when I was pulled over. And I'm talking bad. I was on Lombard (right off of MLK Blvd.), looking for Washington, when the lights and sirens pulled sounded behind me, and, within one moment, I was ordered out of the car, onto the curb, with my hands behind my back and my legs straight out. It was in the middle of broad daylight, and all I could think about was whether one of my students would walk by or drive by. The doofus officers, younger than me, made me feel a bit like I was on Candid Camera, especially when they searched my car (!) and my person and said things to me like, "Well, we just don't understand it... here you are, a guy who likes to take care of himself, you have a dog, you have a baseball glove and a gym dog, and you're down here buying heroin?". I was simultaneously amused and pissed off at the suggestion; are there really a whole lot of 240-lb heroin addicts in the city?

And they kept at me for about fifteen minutes, checking out my story that I was lost and yelling at me to keep my legs straight and my back straight or they'd shove my face into the concrete. Apparently I was in the highest heroin-traffic area of the city, and they accused me of rolling a stop sign (my guess is that I was a white guy there, and they were looking for a reason to pull me over, and made that one up, because I didn't see any sort of stop sign so if I ran one I full-out ran one, didn't just "roll through" it). Eventually, I got to the point where I thought I might be arrested or ticketed or something, and my shocked bemusement turned to anger, and I began pulling out all the stops - telling them to look at the teacher sticker on my windshield, even telling them that my dad is a retired police officer. It eventually worked, but I don't think they ever believed me, even taking down my friend's name and number to "check" on my story about getting lost. They checked if I had warrants, and finally let me go, telling me that if they saw me in this neighborhood in five minutes they'd arrest me. I hightailed it out of there and made it to the Redskins game just fine, with a story to tell of a couple of farmboy officers with too much time on their hands and a high level of dumbassery.


Lauren said...

First of all, did they even ask if they could search your car? Because legally they can't without a search warrent. Seriously. Unless they have a dog that signals he smells drugs they just can't do that. Secondly I'd go down to the station and complain about the threats of arrest and not even helping you to find your friend's house. As a kid I felt safer when I saw a cop. Now I feel a sense of apprehension because you never know how they will perceive you.

Teach Baltimore said...

They didn't, and I was too much in a daze to think to stop them, and didn't want to appear guilty. They made me go on the curb, and my wallet was in my car, so they went to go get it, and proceeded to go through my stuff.

Kind of shitty, definitely, and I have logged a call into 3-1-1 in complaint already.

bdc said...

I had a very similar experience in Detroit many years ago when I was in college.