Monday, April 24, 2006

A Run-In With the Law

I am constantly amazed at the situations I find myself in and the ways in which they often turn out. Today such a situation arose.

My laptop went berserk and being without it is kind of like having no arms and only half a brain. Impossible to get my work done and in the middle of an election campaign there are tons of work to do, as you might imagine.
So I called a friend of mine in Birmingham to see if he had time to look at it and work out the bug for me.

"Sure, bring it by and I'll see what I can do."

So I meet up with this friend and another mutual friend in Hoover, which is an upscale suburb of Birmingham. It took a while to work out the bugs in the computer and we all decided to go and get something to eat.

As we were coming back from our two block trip to Taco Bell a cop pulled up behind us. My computer friend was driving and he said, "That cop is going to pull us over because the tag on this car is expired."
During the course of the unfolding events I also learned that the tag was

1). Being held in place by "Duck Tape"
2). Was not the tag that belonged on that car....A switch tag in other words.

Oh Shit!

The whole car situation deserves an explanation in and of itself. My friend, who works on computers, also buys abandoned vehicles at auctions. This particular car that we were riding in had recently been purchased from the City of Birmingham at an auction. He had sold it to someone else. He was driving it because he was making repairs to it for the new owner.

This having been a recent transaction the new owner had not yet gone through the somewhat long and complicated process of claiming the title to the abandoned vehicle, which is what this vehicle was and how it was sold.
The new owner had also not placed a bill of sale in the glovebox or anywhere else for that matter.

"Yep...He's typing into his computer...I am going to go ahead and pull over in this parking lot."

So, my friend proceeds to pull over.
The cop follows us into the parking lot...lights a'blazin' and proceeds up to the driver side window. Cops in Hoover drive large, masculine, SUV's to intimidate citizens with. Chevy Tahoes I believe they were.

"License, insurance and registration please."

My friend begins to try and explain the complicated story of the car while handing the cop his license and insurance. The cop wants to see the registration and the bill of sale. As I stated earlier, those items were not in the car. My friend asks if he can call the new owner and have him verify this information. The new owner is a very well known businessman in that area. The cop says, "No, he isn't here so it won't matter."

"Well, what if I can get him to meet us here with the registration and bill of sale?"

"No. You don't have it in the car with you. Nothing else matters."

Boy, it makes me ill when they treat us like that.

The cop retreats to his macho-machine. A few seconds later my friend who is riding in the back with me, due to the other guys dog being along on this trip, says, "Here comes another one." And sure enough another SUV with lights'a'blazin came rolling up.

Are two sets of lights really necessary on a routine traffic stop? I mean really???? I felt like I was about to have an epileptic seizure with all of that flashing.

And there came yet another one. Three sets of lights. Three cops. Three SUV's. One expired tag.

Complete overkill.

One of the new cops walks up to my window and says, "I need to see your ID."

Now, this is not my car and, what I did next I should not have done for a large number of extremely important reasons, some of which I will not elaborate about on this blog. But, one reason is that I am still under court restrictions until my case is resolved. At any time until then the police can search me, drug test me, come into my home and so forth. That juicy little factoid was the furtherest thing from my mind though at that exact second. I had gone into full activist mode as soon as the cops had pulled us over, you see. It is second nature to me now.

"I am a passenger and I do not have to show you my ID."

"Show me your ID I need to know who I am dealing with Ms."

The driver of the car was having a difficult time trying not to throw up in his own lap due to this incident making him nervous and he said,
"God, Loretta please just give him your license!!!", in that weird, slobbery, watery..."I'm about to puke all over something" voice you get when you are about to puke all over something. He looked an incredible grayish-yellow color too and he had his head resting on the steering wheel.

So, I complied...reluctantly...but, only because my friend asked me to and because I saw that this particular type of confrontation was not his cup of tea.
The other guy in back with me dug his ID out as well and we handed them out the window.

About that time it finally dawned on me what I had just done and just exactly WHAT the situation was....if you know what I mean. I began to think about the people I might possibly be able to call and so forth. 'My lawyer, a close friend with serious connections....Oh geez let me have those numbers programmed into this new phone...I bet I don't...........Damn jail is gonna suck....Will I be able to turn the press to my advantage on this one?' ad infinitum...........You get the idea.

With me being under court sanction I figured when the cops ran my license I would next be asked to exit the vehicle and assume the search stance. No reason for them not to search me at all and plenty of reason for them to use the full force of their power. A very bad situation.

We sit and chat quietly for a few minutes, gauging the full reality of the situation, making sure we understand the totality of what is occurring and what might be about to occur.

After about 10 excruciating minutes of imagining just how bad this could be one of the cops radio's begins to crackle with an update from dispatch. The first transmission was indecipherable. The second however, came through loud and clear.

"Loretta Nall. She's the Libertarian Party Candidate for Governor."
I look up at my friends, who are looking at me, and I ask, "Did you hear that?"

They nod their heads kinda slowly and start to grin a little.

'Dare I hope?'

The cops, all three of them, each with an SUV macho-machine, are still huddled around looking sort of perplexed by this new information. They keep looking at the car and then back at each other and conversing then looking back at the car.

I imagine it was difficult to accept that the lady sitting in the back of that beater Honda with an expired/switched tag, currently being held in place by "Duck Tape", was the Libertarian Party candidate for Governor. I understand their dismay....Really, I do.

After a few minutes the cop who took our ID's comes back to my window and looks in at my friend and says, "You came back with a warrant for a DUI in Georgia."

My Friend: "No. I'm sorry that isn't possible. It happened over ten years and $2500 ago."

"Well it has not been cleared up in their computer system. But...uh...We're not gonna arrest you on it today because..uh..we don't have the manpower."


Hell, it looked to me like they had all the man power they needed, what with three cops in attendance and a vehicle for each of us. What they lacked in man power they could certainly have made up for in guns, billy clubs, flashlights, flash-bang grenades and all of those other uber-cool toys of oppression that cops seem to possess by the bushel these days. And I know for a fact that they did not even entertain the thought of being out-manned by the three of us.

Heheeheeheehee....Don't have the manpower....heeheeeheeheehee.

The cop hands me back my license and does not say a word to me. Not one peep.

My friend who was driving received two tickets but was told if he brought all of the necessary paperwork to court that everything would be just fine.

I never considered that the dispatcher at the Hoover Police Department, or any dispatch at any other police department, would know anything about my run for Governor. My press in that area of Alabama has been extremely limited since my original conviction and only one AP article from last October was carried in that area.
It stands to reason then that my run for Governor is somehow part of my file in the National Police Database. Is that normal? For police to keep stuff like that on file?

I know I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth....but man it does make me curious.

I also never thought that being a candidate for Governor would earn me any special favors from the police. Quite the opposite actually. I had thought that if such a situation ever arose that the cops would rack me hard, considering that if I am elected many of them will be looking for new jobs and soon, or at the very least made to fight serious crime.

I'll say it felt good to have them back off and let us go because of who I am. I am not saying that they fear me....Perhaps they just did not want the migraine skull-splitter that taking me in would have ultimately become.

Either way I am very happy not to be in jail today.


The Alabama Moderate said...

I doubt that your run for governor is something that they'd have in their database somewhere. More likely that the dispatcher actually was familiar with you. Believe it or not, you've racked up quite a bit of support and familiarity among the 18-24 demographic than you may realize. You're also quite popular among the blogging community from what I've seen, so it's possible that he/she stumbled upon you online.

wheeler said...

stopped in hoover, huh? good thing you are not hispanic.

Loretta Nall said...


I had the "You know if we had been black or brown as opposed to three white people" conversation with my co-conspirators.

I get so angry when I am driving on the interstates around here and see all of the black and hispanic people being harassed by police.
It makes me sick.

Fran / Blue Gal said...

If you need a nice boost today check out my site here. Especially the comments. Loretta, you have admirers all over the country!

Douglas Hoffman said...

yup, I came here from Blue Gal's place.

You go!

DrugReformGuy said...

Loretta, cops tell little white lies sometimes to try and get people to take care of warrants and things. Truth is, and you will need to know this when your governor, you can only extradite someone for a felony, and then it takes a governors warrant. If your friends DUI was a traffic offence and not a felony, they couldn't have arrested him anyway. Many times, we would get a warrant hit on someone from the other side of our state, but the warrant said they would only extradite from neighboring counties. I would ask the person about the warrant. Then tell them they seem like a good guy, and they wouldn't be arrested and their car towed, if they agreed to take care of the warrant, they usually agree.

Did you ever think the cops let you and your friend go with a ticket, and without searching you, because they agree with you?

When I talk to cops, over half agree that our drug laws don't work, and something needs to be done. If you take the time to educate the cops you talk to, I think you will be surprised.

E. Jay Fleming
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Mohave Valley, AZ
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