Thursday, April 5, 2012

Just another day at the office for Michael Reichert

I haven't yet decided whether to laugh at this video or to throw sharp objects at my monitor. Radley Balko posted this video on his blog at the Huffington Post of a couple of guys on their way home to Ohio after attending a Star Trek convention in St. Louis. Their trip home took them through the town of Collinsville, Illinois  where they had the pleasure of meeting Officer Michael Reichert.

Officer Reichert got a little itch up his ass that Terrence Huff and his passenger were carrying drugs in their car. After stopping Mr. Huff for allegedly weaving he proceeded to detain the two for far longer than was necessary for a routine traffic stop. Based on his passenger's "nervousness," Officer Reichert decided that Mr. Huff was carrying something illegal.

Officer Reichert continually tries to bait Mr. Huff into coughing up marijuana by telling him he wasn't interested in any drugs that were for "personal use." Of course you know as well as I do that Officer Reichert wasn't about to let Mr. Huff continue on through the Land of Lincoln with any dope in the car.

Unfortunately, what happened to Mr. Huff isn't an outlier. This goes on every day across this country. They get away with it because it's hard to prove a negative. The police manufacture probable cause to stop motorists around the clock. The most common in Houston is not using a turn signal when changing lanes or turning. Nevermind the fact that few drivers use their turn signals during the day; at 2am after the bars close, not signaling that lane change is a ticket to the jailhouse.

In order to justify tossing a car, an officer will say one or more occupants appeared nervous or that the stories of where they were going didn't match up. Officers will claim reasonable suspicion because a motorist is carrying a large amount of cash - or not carrying any cash. Somehow driving on a US highway gives an officer reason to believe someone is carrying contraband.

And never forget the ways in which officers can manipulate dogs to signal whatever it is they want. I once had an officer claim that his drug dog would sit, bark, scratch, lay down or jump whenever he sensed drugs. The last time I checked, Sgt. Bruss, that just about encompasses everything a dog does - whether it detects something or not.

For those of y'all who still cling to the naive belief that the police don't lie (that is, judges and prosecutors), just listen to what Officer Reichert says and watch what he does. I guarantee you've seen it before. Maybe next time you'll look at it a little differently.

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