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Old 06-11-07, 04:38 PM   #1
Niles H.
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Dealing with rogue cops

A rude or belligerent cop in a bad mood, or wanting to pick a fight, or just being a bully, can be a challenge. Other law enforcement (and other people) can be this way too. How do you deal with them properly?

Some people advocate standing up to them, or standing up for your rights.

Others lean toward backing down, agreeing, not arguing, and doing whatever they say.

Here are some compliant guys (the ones being pulled over):
[later note: the video also contains a bicycle accident in the background, and those who do not wish to watch an accident might not want to watch this one; it isn't too graphic, but it does show a cyclist flying through the air]

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Gu3oQwllD98

(There is a longer version of this same incident, also on youtube.com, which shows even more of the compliant behavior by the guys being pulled over.)

Here is someone who stood up for himself:

http://web.mac.com/stephanorsak/iWeb/Site/Welcome.html

Here is an overview:

http://web.mac.com/stephanorsak/iWeb/Site/Overview.html

There are links (and other materials) that you can select by clicking on them (at the tops and bottoms of the Orsak pages).

***
Another guy was touring California; in Los Angeles he was rudely threatened by a cop, who said that he would ticket him if he saw him again! Just for being there! (Largely because of his beard, and his nomadic (temporary) lifestyle, which the cop did not like.)

An article this guy wrote describes how it changed the whole tenor of his trip, and his plans, and how he headed home to SF.

***
What are some other alternatives?

What are some good ways of dealing with these situations?

Last edited by Niles H.; 06-11-07 at 07:36 PM.
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Old 06-11-07, 04:54 PM   #2
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i'm missing something here...
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Old 06-11-07, 05:45 PM   #3
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Stay calm, get evidence, consult an attorney, then SUE. Section 1983 allows not only for suits against the local government, but against the individual officers.
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Old 06-11-07, 06:04 PM   #4
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Minimize the situation and move on.

I much prefer riding the bike to useless confrontation.
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Old 06-11-07, 06:12 PM   #5
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And exactly what is the video suppose to illustrate, other than a staged situation?

Notice the police car does not have it's emergency lights on?
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This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

Last edited by dobber; 06-11-07 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 06-11-07, 06:14 PM   #6
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I'd demand to talk to their sergeant, or preferably a lieutenant. But I haven't had any real serious problems with the cops personally.
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Old 06-11-07, 06:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Niles H.
What's a graphic video of a cyclist being tossed ten feet into the air by a car have to do with belligerent police officers? There's an officer in the video, but the customer service seems to be better than average. Was the cyclist compliant with the officer? Hard to imagine otherwise, the way he lifelessly slid down the street on his face. Hey, thanks for posting that. Made my day.
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Old 06-11-07, 06:27 PM   #8
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Arguing with the cop is pointless, and you will never win. That said you don't have to listen to their diatribes. You can just tell them to write you a ticket or to let you go. If they do write you a ticket you can challenge it in court. If it's a truly BS ticket you will have satisfaction of a judge putting a cop in his or her place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Niles H.
A rude or belligerent cop in a bad mood, or wanting to pick a fight, or just being a bully, can be a challenge. Other law enforcement (and other people) can be this way too. How do you deal with them properly?

Some people advocate standing up to them, or standing up for your rights.

Others lean toward backing down, agreeing, not arguing, and doing whatever they say.

Here are some compliant guys (the ones being pulled over):

http://youtube.com/watch?v=Gu3oQwllD98

(There is a longer version of this same incident, also on youtube.com, which shows even more of the compliant behavior by the guys being pulled over.)

Here is someone who stood up for himself:

http://web.mac.com/stephanorsak/iWeb/Site/Welcome.html

Here is an overview:

http://web.mac.com/stephanorsak/iWeb/Site/Overview.html

There are links (and other materials) that you can select by clicking on them (at the tops and bottoms of the Orsak pages).

***
Another guy was touring California; in Los Angeles he was rudely threatened by a cop, who said that he would ticket him if he saw him again! Just for being there! (Largely because of his beard, and his nomadic (temporary) lifestyle, which the cop did not like.)

An article this guy wrote describes how it changed the whole tenor of his trip, and his plans, and how he headed home to SF.

***
What are some other alternatives?

What are some good ways of dealing with these situations?
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Old 06-11-07, 06:44 PM   #9
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If you are obeying all the local traffic laws, and cycling during the day in good weather, there's a good chance the police won't bother you.

I've been stopped quite frequently by concerned police officers when I'm out on one of my brevets in the middle of the night or the middle of a nasty storm, but I just assure them that I'm OK, and they carry on.

Being polite goes a long way.
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Old 06-11-07, 07:40 PM   #10
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but I just assure them that I'm OK, and they carry on.
I was going to question this, but I see you're from Canada. Things are different stateside. The cops are NOT your friends. Nor are they concerned for your well being. They're sharks cruising for the next meal.
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Old 06-11-07, 07:45 PM   #11
Niles H.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KnhoJ
There's an officer in the video, but the customer service seems to be better than average.
The guys he pulled over originally were very, very compliant, even though the cop was a bit rude to them. They didn't argue at all. This is shown more clearly (as mentioned in the OP) and in greater detail in the other, longer youtube video.

I was not referring to the cyclist as compliant.

If I knew of another video without a flying cyclist in the background, I would have used it.

***
Perhaps there is an appropriate clip from the movie Meet the Fockers? -- there is that scene where Robert De Niro argues with a cop and get tased. And Dustin Hoffman gets tased. And his son gets tased. All for arguing.

It's pretty humorous.

***
But it isn't always so funny when it actually happens, to you or to someone else, like Stephen Orsak. He's got a mountain of problems and expenses that he has been dealing with for some months now, and will be dealing with for some time to come.

It sounds to me as if he just wanted to stand up for his right to be on the road.

But it isn't always so funny
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Old 06-11-07, 07:56 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cosmoline
I was going to question this, but I see you're from Canada. Things are different stateside. The cops are NOT your friends. Nor are they concerned for your well being. They're sharks....
I agree, some of them are like this. And bullies, and troublemakers, and abusers of power.

Maybe it is more of an American thing that I was thinking when I originally posted. There are definitely some cops like this in the US, and there seem to be more of them these days than before 2001.

Part of me says, just be compliant, it isn't worth it.

Part of me says, that's letting them trample your rights as a citizen; stand up as best you can, even if it has to go to court.

Did Civil Rights activists get anywhere by avoiding abuse?

That said, I would rather just get on with life, and minimize the encounter in whatever pragmatic way works (up to a reasonable point).

Still, part of me says it would be truer or higher action not to allow one's rights to be abused.

(--which seems to be, basically, what Stephen Orsak did)

Last edited by Niles H.; 06-11-07 at 08:32 PM.
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Old 06-11-07, 08:09 PM   #13
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I've been stopped for evading the police by driving the speed limit. Don't get me started.
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Old 06-11-07, 09:00 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cosmoline
I was going to question this, but I see you're from Canada. Things are different stateside. The cops are NOT your friends. Nor are they concerned for your well being. They're sharks cruising for the next meal.
Yet another reason I'm glad I'm not an American!!

I rolled through a stop sign once and was stopped by one, but he let me off with a warning, and because I wasn't carrying my driver's licence, he couldn't ticket me anyway. His parting comment was, "Next time you ride in the park, don't forget your driver's licence." But that is the worst "altercation" I've ever been in with a police officer.

Occasionally if some of us are riding 2 or 3 abreast, one will pull up along side us and quietly remind us to ride single file, especially if we happen to see other traffic around.

One was VERY concerned about me. I guess a trucker had called me in because he saw me out on the highway in the middle of a vicious storm. That storm contained funnels, and a tornado wiped out the beach I had been on a couple hours earlier. By the time the police officer caught up to me, I was about 10 kms from home, so I told him I just had a little ways to go ... and he told me to take care out there, and to make sure I take shelter in some of the buildings along the way if the storm got any worse.

On my longer brevets here in Alberta, the ones that go all night long, my father will come out in the evening and leapfrog me in his van to keep an eye on me. He feels uncomfortable with the idea of me cycling for hours and hours in the dark. Several times a police officer has come cruising past me, and then pulled up beside my father's van to ask him what he is doing out there. My father explains ... once I came up during the explanation to validate it ... and the police officer heads off again reassured that I'm OK and not being followed by someone out there.

The police are our friends. They are there to serve and protect.
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Old 06-11-07, 09:29 PM   #15
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Never really had encounter with a rude cop, while on a bike anyway. I did have one quoting my speed over megaphone when I was bombing down hill, he was going the opposite direction. I got a good chuckle out of it.
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Old 06-11-07, 10:05 PM   #16
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Well, here in Texas there is no legal way to bicycle into DFW Airport. The interstate highway and the state divided highways are all banned from bicycle riding.

His attitude and the way he handled this confrontation just was wrong. I believe the law states you have to submit to police authority whether you agree with it or not. You can dispute the legality of it afterwards, but the police have the authority to stop you and detain you for any reason, at any time, for up to 24 or 48 hours. If you resist, even passively, you open yourself up for actions deemed necessary by the officer to enforce his authority to contain or control you.

He had a folding bike, he should have taken public transport until he was off the airport and the major highways, then ridden it. Commonsense would have prevented this entire episode.
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Old 06-11-07, 10:25 PM   #17
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Something like that. I had to get a bike to the old Denver airport when it was closed to bikes. I went to the first bus of the morning, hour+ before sunrise, told my sad story to the driver, and he let me on the back of the bus. With the understanding that I had to get off if enough people got on or anyone complained. It worked.

I also had two CHP officers get in my face and say I could not use a section of a limited access road. I showed them an official CalTrans map saying I could get on there. Nice seeing them back down.
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Old 06-12-07, 07:14 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machka
If you are obeying all the local traffic laws, and cycling during the day in good weather, there's a good chance the police won't bother you.

I've been stopped quite frequently by concerned police officers when I'm out on one of my brevets in the middle of the night or the middle of a nasty storm, but I just assure them that I'm OK, and they carry on.

Being polite goes a long way.

There are a lot of people who became police officers because they like to push people around. Not a majority, certainly, but a significant minority. I don't particularly like saying this, because I grew up in a family of New York City cops (none of whom were like that), but it's true. Give one of these losers a badge and a gun and it will go right to his head.

Ever see the South Park episode(s) where Cartman is somehow transformed into a cop, and he rides around on his tricycle wearing mirrored sunglasses, shouting at everyone that they must "RESPECT MY AUTHORITY"? That is sadly the reality all too often.

That said, I've had a few good experiences with cops too. More than once a cop has really gone out of his way to help, sometimes at real risk to himself.
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Old 06-12-07, 08:11 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Machka
Yet another reason I'm glad I'm not an American!!
Oh please. This country is so huge and diverse that it's impossible to make any generalizations.

I've encountered ******* cops when I was obeying every traffic law, I've also seen cops wave and say over the loudspeaker 'you all ride safe and have a nice night' during an unruly Critical Mass. You'll get prevailing attitudes in a region, but even then it depends on the cop, the day they're having, etc.

If you are truly glad you're not American, I bet you haven't seen enough of the country to make a fair appraisal. Otherwise, I wouldn't know so many Canadians that have moved here.
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Old 06-12-07, 12:07 PM   #20
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this is why we have the second ammendment. fight fire with fire.
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Old 06-12-07, 05:42 PM   #21
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If you are truly glad you're not American, I bet you haven't seen enough of the country to make a fair appraisal. Otherwise, I wouldn't know so many Canadians that have moved here.
I've been to 34 States over the past 40 years ... and yes ... I truly am glad I'm not an American. I MUCH prefer being a Canadian. I'd opt to be an Australian, or to move to the UK or France (the other countries I've visited) before I'd want to be an American.

Not saying there aren't some nice Americans, and not saying there aren't some nice areas in the US, and not saying I mind visiting the US on occasion ... I just have absolutely no desire to ever live there.
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Old 06-18-07, 12:19 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Machka
I've been to 34 States over the past 40 years ... and yes ... I truly am glad I'm not an American. I MUCH prefer being a Canadian. I'd opt to be an Australian, or to move to the UK or France (the other countries I've visited) before I'd want to be an American.

Not saying there aren't some nice Americans, and not saying there aren't some nice areas in the US, and not saying I mind visiting the US on occasion ... I just have absolutely no desire to ever live there.
Dont worry about it... Those of us that are Americans are all VERY HAPPY that you ARE NOT AN AMERICAN as well!
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Old 06-18-07, 12:24 AM   #23
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Dont worry about it... Those of us that are Americans are all VERY HAPPY that you ARE NOT AN AMERICAN as well!

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Old 06-18-07, 07:27 PM   #24
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Hey Machka: i am proudly married to a Canadian, and she is entitled to her opinion (quite like yours)as am I. There is more than enough room for both. I have interacted with the RCMP both professionally and privately at times and they have been polite and courteous. I also have been in law enforcement, both civilian and government, for 35+ years here in the US of A, and find that in the main, most law enforcement people are dedicated, reliable people. It is the bad apple that stands out, and boy do they stand out. I do find, as a rider, that police need to be a little more educated than they are as to laws regarding bicyclists vs automobilists (?). I am working on that in my little corner of the world.

going to retire in Canada in 2 years.
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Old 06-18-07, 07:46 PM   #25
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Hey Machka: i am proudly married to a Canadian, and she is entitled to her opinion (quite like yours)as am I. There is more than enough room for both. I have interacted with the RCMP both professionally and privately at times and they have been polite and courteous. I also have been in law enforcement, both civilian and government, for 35+ years here in the US of A, and find that in the main, most law enforcement people are dedicated, reliable people. It is the bad apple that stands out, and boy do they stand out. I do find, as a rider, that police need to be a little more educated than they are as to laws regarding bicyclists vs automobilists (?). I am working on that in my little corner of the world.

going to retire in Canada in 2 years.


My brother is married to a very nice American girl, and they have a daughter, my niece who has dual citizenship. They've opted to live in the US for now and seem to be enjoying it down there. I have no problem with that. But for myself, I like my country.

I figure if we like where we live, that's a good thing.
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