A Reader’s Forum story by Valorie with introduction by Elisa.
Elisa: Valorie is a good friend who resides in the United States. Her story describes not only how much police procedure has changed over the past few years, it’s also a tough lesson for all of us who ‘stay prepared’ while in our personal vehicle. This could happen to any of us.
This is a cat caregiver’s nightmare (Valorie is not only caregiver at a a cat sanctuary but also feeds a lot of strays who depend on her). Valorie had a nerve-wracking experience when her vehicle was searched by police.
Valorie’s story as told by Valorie…
Well I for sure learned a lesson today.
So… anyone who knows me, knows that I normally carry quite a bit of stuff in my vehicle.
Emergency stuff: Tools, jumper cables, jack, fix-a-flat/tire plugs, etc…
Oops stuff: a clean shirt & an extra pair of socks, a couple pairs of gloves, bottled water, etc…
Necessities stuff: bug spray, paper towels, phone charger cords/adapters, ratchet straps/tie downs/motor oil/antifreeze/brake fluid/fuses/bulbs, etc…
Work stuff: depending on the job(s) I’m doing at the time this could be almost anything & everything.
CAT STUFF: food, water, litter (clean or dirty), travel crates, kennels, traps… actual cats, etc…
My truck was packed full today. Working on finishing out an unfinished basement and I helped put up a chain link fence that was finshed yesterday.
OK -so, I was thinking and driving and maybe going a little too fast… the next thing I know there are flashing lights behind me. Uggh. I luckily was not given a ticket, but he asked if I was “under the influence” of anything. I said I wasn’t (because I wasn’t) and when he asked if he could have a look inside my vehicle, I reactively said “sure”.
You can bet your ass I probably won’t ever say “SURE” again. 😕
The only “trouble” I have ever been in has been traffic tickets. Never any DWI/DUI or any other “criminal” sort of crimes. And I have NEVER had an officer go through every single thing in my vehicle, take everything out and go through every inch of my vehicle the way the officer did today.
He dumped out bags, unzipped my coin purse and took out the bank card for one of the jobs I am currently doing (for purchasing materials). Questioned me about things written in my planner/notebook. I had opened a bag of cat food to feed a hungry stray and taped the bag closed so it wouldn’t spill – and he reopened the bag of cat food!
I’ve been struggling from having Covid and a friend helped me out with some laundry detergent (in a ziplock freezer bag), a few dryer sheets (in a sandwich bag), half a dozen trash bags, and a roll of toilet paper.
In a Walmart bag handles tied closed… I told him it was Oxy-clean and he could taste it if he wanted to, but to remember that I warned him what it was. He didn’t taste it. I had some self-leveling mortar and he dug around in that also! (Grey powder, like concrete without the rocks).
He went through all the tools, all of the nails, screws & hardware… everything! Not posting this from jail, no mugshots, and like I said, no tickets —-If he had not taken so darn long and put everything back the way he had found it, that would have been nice… but I can’t help but feel a little violated.
When I said “sure” that he could “have a look in my truck” – I did not know that meant open a purse, take things out, open those things up and remove a card – that I was given with TRUST. Could he not ask me his questions without removing and taking the card I was responsible for? I did not even know he had it, it was clipped onto his shirt pocket along with my ID (which I had given him 1st thing after being pulled over of course).
I also did not know that having a look around a vehicle meant open a day planner/notebook/etc…
and READ things written within.
Q -Are these nicknames?
A – no, those are my cats actual names.
Q – What’s this list of dates & numbers?
A – Walnut season recordkeeping.
Q – And all these addresses?
A – People who dislike walnuts in their yards.
Q – Wow… these names are all your cats?
A – The ones that are living, yes. The names of those resting in the Memory Garden are on another page.
Him- That is a lot of cats.
Me- Yeah, and they are impatiently waiting on me to put food in their bowls. I’m about an hour past due. He said I could go then… but I had to put things back inside the cab from the bed of the truck before going anywhere.
I doubt that SURE will fall out of my mouth ever again… I know for a fact that I will ask BEFORE answering “what do you want to look for and WHY” (my dumbass asked WHY afterwards, I was told I was pulled over for going too fast, and then told that I was all over the road and swerved all the way into the turn lane.
I was not sure that I was not going too fast, I’m not even sure right now what the speed limit actually is there, but I am sure that I was not “all over the road”. I might have moved over to avoid a pothole or rough spot in the road, but I know I did not drive IN the turn lane.
But by that point of course I wasn’t going to argue – no tickets, yeah, best to shut up and just go on. And if I DO ever agree to let an officer LOOK in my vehicle again, it will be with clear and precise acknowledgment that LOOK means WITH YOUR EYES, NOT YOUR HANDS!
I’m not a “thug”… I am a small woman over 50 with no “record” or “warrants” and my “criminal history” is basically speeding tickets, and/or couldn’t find my insurance card – or the new card was at home on the coffee table in a pile of mail – or I missed court date/forgot to pay a ticket.
I have been arrested only ONCE ever in my life – yet have NEVER actually been “in jail”.
The credit card was returned.