This is about the last time I was stopped by the police, had my civil rights violated, and didn’t even know about it.
When you grow up in America you’re taught this great double standard. First you’re told that you have all kinds of civil rights. Your told about the Bill or Rights and the Constitution and taught that American is the greatest most democratic nation in the world.
And last you’re taught more or less indirectly that good citizens don’t demand to have their civil rights. Good citizens do what they are told. Good citizens don’t ask questions. Good citizens let the police search them. And so on.
I was never told in the classes given to me by the teachers in the government run public school what to do if I wanted to use my constitutional Fifth Amendment right on refusing to talk to the police, nor was I told in the government schools how to exercise my Fourth Amendment right and refuse to a police search.
I grew up thinking as most people that when the police ask you questions you’re required to give them answers. That when the police demand to search you, you’re required to let the police search you.
I was never taught that the police are only allowed to stop you when they had either “probable cause” or “reasonable suspicion”. I wrongly though the police could stop you anytime the police wanted to s top you. And the police could question you anytime the police wanted to question you. And the police could demand your ID anytime they wanted to demand your ID.
This is story is about the last time I was illegally stopped by the police, and didn’t know that they had violated my civil rights by stopping me with out “probable cause”.
Whenever I go on a job interview a day or so before the interview I go case the joint. That is so that I won’t have any problems finding the place, or be late looking for the place.
In this case I had an interview for a “headhunter” job the next day. So the prior day I drove by the place and got out of my car and checked it out to make sure I could find the correct suite number. After finding the correct office I left knowing that I would find the place the next day for my interview with out any problems.
A cop saw me doing this and thought I looked suspicious. He turned his red lights on and stopped me as I was driving home on 16th Street that night. He didn’t have any “probable cause” to stop me. No crime had been committed. Nobody had called the Phoenix Police telling them I had burglarized the place or stolen something from the place. So no “probable cause” existed to stop me. So with out the “probable cause” the cop stopped me illegally, violating my civil rights.
The cop even admitted to me that he didn’t have the required “probable cause” to stop me. He didn’t say it that way. He said he was stopping me because I looked suspicious, that it was night time, and that even though I didn’t appear to be doing anything I might be up to no good and he just wanted to stop me to verify that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. It would not be for another six months or so when I started working with Jim Forsberg an Phoenix Police Reserve Officer at Sperry Flight Systems that I would learn that this cop had violated my civil rights by stopping me with out any “probable cause”.
Jim was a computer programmer who worked with me. A number of years before that he worked for free as a reserve Phoenix Police Officer. After working at Sperry he would put on a Phoenix Police uniform, go the Union Hills Police station, get a free cop car and drive around looking for people to arrest.
In the years that followed I would be stopped illegally many times by crooked cops with out “probable cause” but at least on each of those times I knew that a crooked cop was violating my civil rights.
I did get the job as a “headhunter”. I was happy because “headhunters” were making $100,000 and more. As an engineer I was only making $25 an hour which is only about $50,000 a year.
But I quit the job at the end of the first week. Being a headhunter even if you make a lot of money is a really boring job. And being an engineer is much more fun. I was back to my old job at Markwood the next week.
And I didn’t even know the Phoenix cop had violated my civil rights. I would know that until a few months later when I got a job at Sperry Flight Systems.