In my nearly 40 years living in the USA, I have never once been randomly stopped, harassed, or asked to provide ID by police. I’m certainly not doubting or blaming those that say they have, and I am in principle all in favor of pushing back against overreaching police officers so that we never get to that sort of oppressive regime state, but I have to admit that it’s not really a pressing concern in my day-to-day life. The last time I spoke to a cop, it was because I was driving home at night, and a blown fuse meant that my tail lights weren’t lit up. He asked me to drive the rest of the way with my blinkers on, ran my license, and sent me on my way.
I’ve never been harassed, but I’m a white female. I think that makes a difference. I don’t carry ID when I go for a walk or a hike either.
It is a difficult problem. We ask our police to deal with the worst of society, so it’s not surprising that they start to see people differently. I see the same thing with people I know who work as corrections officers. There is an us against them kind of mentality.
I’m not sure where you get that the US is swarming with cops. Of course certain places have a lot. Times Square for instance. But that is a relatively recent phenomenon. Back when I was a kid it was hard to find a cop in Times Square. It was also a total and complete shit hole.
In the town I grew up in during the busy evening hours there are often 5 cops work an area of around 30 square miles with a population of almost 70,000*. That seems pretty typical. I wouldn’t call that swarming.
*That is patrol officers. During the day on weekdays there are more working but they have different jobs and aren’t patrolling the streets.
I often go around as a pedestrian without ID and have never been stopped and harassed for it.
Maybe if I was drinking a beer and frequently looking around in paranoid fashion for “swarms” of cops, it’d be a different story.
Haven’t you posted this same thread before, and been told that your perceptions are totally at odds with many other people’s?
I have never once been asked for ID by a cop, nor have I seen anyone else be asked for ID by a cop, except maybe at a traffic stop.
I think, for many people, it’s more of a slippery slope argument. I think it’s worth resisting the normalization of unnecessary or overreaching police interference in our lives, especially the kind with a vaguely totalitarian whiff to it (wherever you draw those lines personally).
I go out for long runs and minimize what I carry so I don’t carry ID, I have no place to carry one. I have a RoadID bracelet that has emergency contact info and that seems sufficient.
I was once stopped and harassed by police. My crime? Driving in Kansas with a CA license plate. They were certain I was transporting drugs, because, you know… California!
Anyway, it does happen, but not to the extent the OP suggests. It’s definitely a problem for minorities in some areas, though.
I know - poor, non-white Michael Brown was innocently jaywalking in the middle of the road blocking traffic, with the proceeds of a robbery in his hand, ten minutes after assaulting a clerk, when The Man Started Hasslin’ Him! For no reason!
I’ll relate this story in this thread just to point out that not all cops are jack-booted thugs.
My family took a trip to visit my parents. We expected to be gone over the long weekend and returning Monday. My wife had told the neighbors about this. It turned out to be easier to come back Sunday evening instead of waiting until Monday morning. As soon as we stepped into the house we saw that smoke was coming out of the furnace. A fortuitous coincidence because it was just starting and could have been much worse. We called the oil company for service and they sent someone out right away. He arrived at about 10PM. At that time the neighbor noticed there was a van in our driveway and someone walking back and forth from the house and the van, so she called the police. I don’t know why she didn’t just call our phone number to see if we were home, but that’s what she did. In a few minutes there was a state police car there. The trooper knocked on the door, he had already seen the van was from the well known oil company, and could see the kids running around the house as we tried to get them packed off to bed. He could tell exactly what was going on and behaved very professionally, explained about the call they received. I told him how we had come home early and he was satisfied at that point. I then offered to show him my ID. He seemed relieved that I did this, I suppose it made it easy for him to justify no further investigation, and he then thanked me and said he’d go explain everything to the neighbor. It was exactly the right thing for him to do. He hadn’t seen any probable cause or reasonable suspicion that a crime had occurred, and he acted in the proper way based on those circumstances.
I’ll add another point to show these things aren’t necessarily clear cut. Our town had local police as well. They had a well deserved reputation for having incompetent assholes among them. I doubt in this circumstance things would have been different, but the potential for mishandling of the situation would have been increased if the neighbor had called them instead of the state police. It is for those reasons that town eliminated the local police department several years later.
I’ll sum up by saying we can do better through proper management and training of the police, and clearer laws about the limits of police power.
Probably related to this.
And that’s an important point: the USA doesn’t have a police culture: it has many, many separate police forces.
Drinking in public (even just having an “open container”) is verboten in a number of countries (including Australia, most of Canada etc.).
So it’s not just a matter of the Gestapo Police Culture in the U.S. harassing innocent pedestrians (and motorists) for having an open can of beer.
One time though, a sheriff’s deputy actually came to my door! To harass me for his personal enjoyment! (actually, he’d spotted a refrigerator that a neighbor had left at the curb for pickup, and wanted to borrow a screwdriver so he could remove the door, to prevent kids from playing in it and potentially getting trapped inside).
You mean: looking frazzled, drooling, and disoriented, dressed in a strait jacket, riding something like this? I hope they gave you a ride back home
And naturally, I assume you responded by asserting your rights as an American citizen and free human being by shouting “YOU CAN PRY MY SCREWDRIVER FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS, PIG!” and throwing your drink in his face.
I’ve also been helped out by a police officer after a roadside car problem at night. He had me ride in the back of his patrol car and when I couldn’t unlock the back door after we arrived at my car repair shop, he joked that it was like the Hotel California while opening the door for me. Another police officer returned our dog after it went for a run on the local busy street too.
I have been questioned once during my evening stroll when I was wearing a pair of thick black-rimmed eyeglasses that I don’t usually wear since they’re considered outside of societal norms in these parts. They let me continue my walk after I gave my personal information. I wasn’t loitering or stopping at any point in my walk as I do it mainly for the exercise. This type of thing does make me consider what it would be like to be a minority.
Also, somebody called the cops on me one time when I was removing a dozen wasps from my car’s passenger compartment at a public parking lot, bringing a squadron of police cars to the scene. The cops left me alone after checking my ID, car insurance and questioning me about what I was doing, although I did have to put my hands on the car and “spread 'em” during their questioning.
And there was the false arrest for DUI with 48 hours of prison detainment without being found guilty of a crime. Other than that, I’ve had no problem with any police officers. Most of them are nice people just like anyone else.
I was once on the subway in NYC and the police were detaining (at least temporarily, on the train) somebody for some minor infraction (open bottle of beer or some such), and asked for his ID. He replied that he had none with him, and the police acted all shocked (what?! That’s not very smart, you know. What if something happened top you, and you had to go the hospital?).
What cite can I offer? IM logs? He was a guy I had known for years online, never spoke badly of the police before the incident he had.
I think you misunderstand, I never said I did this in the USA, I said it is relaxing to know I can without being harassed by police where drinking in public is not illegal.
I don’t even like beer or alcohol that much, I will admit to being a hardcore libertarian( a real one not a fake one lol).
AND yes I have posted threads on this before, it is a thing that chaps my hide, never claimed it wasn’t.
EDIT:Oh and to answer other posts, I never antagonize police unless they target me then sure I will be obstructive in a friendly way. I certainly don’t go looking to get police attention, and really have nothing against cops and almost feel sorry for them that in the US they are expected to see the public as an enemy.
Also I have short hair, always have and dress normally. I bet someone with dreads or that dresses crazy would get even worse treatment.
Most of my experiences were in Texas, but Stop And Frisk in NYC of all places shows this stuff is widespread.