Understand, I’m a law-abiding citizen who supports the police, because I know most police officers are dedicated individuals who would take a bullet to keep me safe. Still, there have been a couple of situations where I can’t explain why they did what they did.
I used to work as a supervisor at a food plant making cracker meal for use in breading fish and chicken for food manufacturers. I worked with James, an older guy (he was in his 40’s, I was in my early 20’s), who was the supervisor on the other line. He didn’t live far from me, and he was nice enough to drive me to and from work, and I would buy the beer for the ride home. I know, you’re not supposed to drink and drive, but it was hot work and we were thirsty after the second shift.
Anyway, one night he dropped me off at a corner nearby, and I took the empties and tossed them in a wastebasket. Seconds later, I hear this voice, "HEY, BUDDY, STOP RIGHT THERE!" So I did, and two plainclothes cops got out of a sedan, flashed their badges, and one frisked me while the other went to the wastebasket and fished out the bag with the empties in them.
"What were you two guys doing?"
"Riding home from work."
"Yeah, where do you work?"
"Newly Weds Foods, Fullerton and Pulaski. We’re supervisors. We just got off second shift."
The other cop pulls the empties out and shows them to his partner. "Had a couple of cocktails after work, did you?"
"Yeah, it was hot and we were thirsty."
"Okay. Don’t let us catch you again, understand?"
"Yessir." They got back in their car and drove off.
It didn’t stop James and I from having a beer after work. We just kept an eye out for them. It might have been because James was Black and I was White, and they might have assumed we were up to no good.
Another time, I was in Des Moines working with a client. I finished with them and went back to my hotel, found a restaurant in their directory, and decided I’d walk there, because I’d been in a computer room all day, it was a nice evening, and I thought I might have a couple of drinks with dinner.
So, I walked to the restaurant, enjoying the sights around Des Moines (there ain’t a whole lot of them), had a good dinner and a couple of beers, and started walking back to the hotel. About halfway there, I sensed that I was being followed. I turned around and saw a police cruiser behind me. So I stopped and said "Yes?"
Two cops get out of the car and one frisked me. "What’s going on?" I asked.
"We had a complaint that someone who looked like you was wandering aound and had a gun."
Huh? "I don’t have a gun."
"Well, what were you doing wandering around downtown?"
"I’m here working, I’m staying at the Holiday Inn, I was inside all day, it’s a nice evening, I thought I was going to have a couple of drinks at dinner, so I walked to that Mexican place and had dinner and a couple of drinks."
"All right." They got back in their car, made a U-turn (which is probably illegal, and I was tempted to do a Gomer Pyle "CITIZEN’S ARREST! CITIZEN’S ARREST!") and drove off. No "sorry to have bothered you, have a nice day…"
I got back to the hotel and found the bar. I’m chatting with the bartender and the waitress (who didn’t have a whole lot to do, because it was Des Moines and Monday evening), and I tell them about the whole thing. They were shocked. "That doesn’t sound like our police force," they said.
A while ago, I saw this video by Chris Rock called "How Not To Get Your Ass Kicked By The Police." I present it here as a public service. You’re welcome.