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They’re not your friends

This is already been pretty well picked up elsewhere while I was busy converting the blog: see How New York’s Finest Get the Weed Out at Reason and Scott Morgan’s Police Will Do Anything to Arrest People for Marijuana, but I wanted to make sure I mentioned it.

I’m talking about Harry G. Levine’s article: The Epidemic of Pot Arrests in New York City in Alternet.

You see, in New York, having a small amount of marijuana in your pocket is not an arrest-able offense. However, having it out in the open is.

According to U.S. Supreme Court decisions, police are allowed to thoroughly pat down the outside of someone’s clothing looking for a gun, which is bulky and easy to detect. But police cannot legally search inside a person’s pockets and belongings without permission or probable cause.

However, police officers can legally make false statements to people they stop, and officers can trick people into revealing things. So in a stern, authoritative voice, NYPD officers will say to the young people they stop:

“We’re going to have to search you. If you have anything illegal you should show it to us now. If we find something when we search you, you’ll have to spend the night in jail. But if you show us what you have now, maybe we can just give you a ticket. And if it’s nothing but a little weed, maybe we can let you go. So if you’ve got anything you’re not supposed to have, take it out and show it now.”

When police say this, the young people usually take out their small amount of marijuana and hand it over. Their marijuana is now “open to public view.” And that – having a bit of pot out and open to be seen – technically makes it a crime, a fingerprintable offense. And for cooperating with the police, the young people are handcuffed and jailed.

People really need to know about this kind of stuff. Serve and protect is a thing of the past. Deceive and destroy are the mottos of today.

Consider this story. A school teacher who liked to smoke pot on his own time in his own home was robbed. He told the police that it was money that was stolen, not pot (he would have been stupid to say that his pot was stolen). The robber was caught and made up a bunch of stories about the teacher having child porn, hosting drug parties for underage children, etc. So the police released those un-investigated allegations (which turned out to be false) to the media, destroying the teacher’s life, and jailed the teacher for pot and obstruction of justice (failing to say that it was pot that was stolen from him). The thief wasn’t charged.

Or, read this story To Catch a Stoner in Oregon. Tigard police have been on Craigs List trolling for lonely men.

“Tuesday is my last day at work this week and I wanna party on Tues night!! I’m a hot blonde who has all the right moves.” The ad promised to trade those moves to anyone who could offer some “420,” or marijuana.

And the lonely guys who responded?

Walsh had 3.5 grams of weed in his pocket—normally enough to earn him nothing more than a ticket. But because he’d agreed to trade drugs for sex, the cops charged Walsh with misdemeanor prostitution and delivery of drugs, a felony, and booked him into Washington County Jail.

Fortunately, the DA’s office is refusing to prosecute some of the cases, realizing that it’s classic entrapment. (Read the whole article, it’s quite interesting.)

I would like to see the day where the public could feel comfortable with trusting the police. Right now, that trust just isn’t there in most cases (that doesn’t mean that there aren’t individual officers that I trust and admire — there are — just that the occupation as a whole is tarnished, largely by the drug war).

It’s important to remember that the police are allowed to lie to you. Some take quite a bit of pride in that fact. When they say that they’re your friend and that it’s in your best interest to cooperate fully with their requests, it isn’t true. And finally, there is never a good reason to voluntarily consent to a search. Ever.

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11 comments to They’re not your friends

  • Where is the “Fraternal Order of Police” on this?

  • Jon Doe

    Douglas: I think the idea that it’s a “Fraternity” is part of the problem. Think about it, it’s the frat for people who couldn’t get into college. Only these pigheaded frat boys aren’t just unruly partiers, they also get to carry all manner of deadly weaponry and can kill with impunity.

  • jackl

    Good article. It would be interesting if any of the police or prohibitionists who read this blog would like to respond.

    BTW, there’s a typo in the parent article, the author is Harry LevinE. We reformers have a great debt of gratitude to Harry and several other academics, mostly sociologists, who have made drug prohibition an issue for study.

    Harry was the professor who first developed the notion that drug prohibition even existed (kind of a field and ground type argument; the idea being that drug prohibition has to be invisible and “normal” rather than noticed and debated to be accepted), and that the pervasiveness of the treaties and US propaganda obscured the notion that there was a drugs prohibition. See his seminal article here. (CEDRO is gone, but the website library still exists: http://www.cedro-uva.org/lib/levine.secret.html .)

    I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with Professor Levine at a DPA conference. I thanked him for his work and asked him what his general feelings were about the possibility of reform in our lifetimes. His reply was something to the effect that he felt like a time traveler coming back from a few centuries in the future to observe something still backward and awful, like slavery, that would certainly be left behind as mankind continued to evolve.

    Right now, it would be nice to see a lawsuit by the ACLU stop the bogus pot busts for plain view based on a NYC frisk. Expect Bloomberg to be as big a dick about this as Guiliani. And the pigs too.

  • kaptinemo

    Tangentially related; Mark Morford righteously skewers prohibs. I don’t want to ruin it for you. And know where I got the link? DEAWatch. Talk about irony…

  • DdC

    “At DEA, our mission is to fight drug trafficking in order to make drug abuse the most expensive, unpleasant, risky, and disreputable form of recreation a person could have.”
    — Donnie Marshall,
    Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

    Legal Marijuana Would Shift Economic Power By Ron Binion Jr.
    CN Source: North County Times August 12, 2009
    Everyone has a theory as to why our government is opposed to the legalization of marijuana. The question is not one of morality, but of economics. True, marijuana has the tax revenue potential to help solve our current crisis. But those in power now lose control of their piece of the pie. When discussing the economic potential of legalizing marijuana we tend to exclude a huge part of the picture. The plant hemp itself has more than 10,000 uses.

    Just The Facts, Please
    Marijuana has been the subject of smear campaigns since the 1930s.

    Neo-Cons have no sovereignty or allegiance.
    The planet is their goal. Mexamericanada.

    “In the 21st Century North America is not defined by its borders
    but by its bonds.”
    ~ Barock Obama

    How the fuck can the U.S. bust someone in Canada for selling
    seeds? Do we have worldwide jurisdiction now?

    Getting there…
    The US never stopped buying hemp seed for pet shops, After Nixon lied and lumped it all into a schedule#1 narcotic, they required the seeds to be sterilized. Still sold them. McCaffrey tried busting 17 truckloads and lost. Audubon Society is all for legalizing since 98% of the US “marijuana” eradications are wild ditchweed pheasant habitat. The only crime I see is Marc selling unsterilized seeds. But Tommy Chong never made a bong and got 9 month’s for lending his name. They put 8 bullets in Tom at Rainbow Farm. Take food stamps and college tuition assistance away for life and serve the Police/Prison industrial Complex. The Medical/Pharmaceutical\Ag Poison Complex, Fossil fools fuels, plastic and clothing, trees, paper, meat, dairy, factory farms, chemgrain and the 90 million more pounds of op resQ abortion poison, used on cotton, not hemp. The Booze and their huge infrastructure not needed for a few plants in the herb garden. $ 1 Trillion spent since 1937 = $1 Trillion profit + tax.
    That’s the Ganjawar.continued…

    UK: Heroin Laced Cannabis Heading to Brighton Streets, Police
    Loomes, Naomi The Argus 13 Aug 2009
    ‘After Two Puffs, I Was Turned Into a Bat’
    Anslinger swept all before him for decades, to the extent that his success began to pose its own problems. Admitting to marijuana use became a popular way of avoiding conscription, and murderers cited the brainwashing powers of “an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality and death” to plead diminished responsibility for their crimes. Their claims were frequently supported by an expert witness, the pharmacologist Dr James Munch, who claimed that “after two puffs on a marijuana cigarette, I was turned into a bat”. Sentences were commuted from death to imprisonment on Munch’s evidence, and Anslinger had to ask him to stop testifying.

  • Buc

    Kaptinemo, I give you credit for reading DEAwatch. I went to that site one time and I couldn’t stand to take another gander over there.

  • Tim

    Fraternaties, associations, unions…I like using the honest term when dealing with group of police: gang.

  • Chris

    And people wonder why cops aren’t trusted anymore.

  • ROE

    Guilty til proven innocent …yet you may still be proven guilty if we can talk enough..or something like that. America? I think not. This country needs a good house cleaning.

  • Unfortunately, 98% of people still do trust the police. Blindly, obediently, and lovingly. Only when they or their family members get entrapped, screwed, and railroaded will they MAYBE have second thoughts about the police being “the good guys.” Though a good percentage of those people will be convinced that their screwed family member is a drug addict and “needs help” (including some jail time to think about what they’ve done).

    There’s no winning here, and the police know it. Why else do you think they do this crap so flippantly, without the slightest bit of hesitation or remorse?