A Question for Americans


davesmom
#1
I hope someone will enlighten me about something I am curious about. I don't know American laws.


I'm hearing complaints from black American motorists that they are stopped frequently by police for no reason.
Doesn't 'probably cause' apply to traffic police?
Here in Canada he police will only stop a vehicle if there is something wrong with the vehicle like a tail light out or a cracked windshield. Or if the driver has committed a traffic violation. Unless there is probable cause to stop a motorist the police cannot do it.
So I'm wondering if that law applies in the States and if so, why don't those who are stopped for no reason report it immediately?


I also wonder, if traffic policing is a State responsibility, what can the Federal Government do about it?
 
EagleSmack
#2
Just about everyone in America after being pulled over says...

"I got pulled over for no reason!"

In order for a police officer to pull you over he has to have a reason.
 
Machjo
+1
#3  Top Rated Post
Quote: Originally Posted by davesmom View Post

I hope someone will enlighten me about something I am curious about. I don't know American laws.


I'm hearing complaints from black American motorists that they are stopped frequently by police for no reason.
Doesn't 'probably cause' apply to traffic police?
Here in Canada he police will only stop a vehicle if there is something wrong with the vehicle like a tail light out or a cracked windshield. Or if the driver has committed a traffic violation. Unless there is probable cause to stop a motorist the police cannot do it.
So I'm wondering if that law applies in the States and if so, why don't those who are stopped for no reason report it immediately?


I also wonder, if traffic policing is a State responsibility, what can the Federal Government do about it?

My ex-wife was black. Her uncle-in-law got pulled over by the police everytime he drove his car wile wearing a baseball cap. Each time it was to check that the car wasn't stolen.

One of her brothers got pulled over by the same cop many times until one day he addrssed the cop by name. The cop stopped bothering him after that. Presumably the cop got the hint.

Another brother of hers started getting stopped by the cops as soon as he had decided to start growing dreadlocks. They never reached an inch before he gave up and cut them off.

People have lives to live. How many times are you going to report a cop to the police. Also, in cases in which it's always a different cop, though you might know most are racially motivated, you can't be sure which are and which are just coincidences. Though knowing that at least some of the pull-overs must have been racially motivated, I guess you cold make a general complaint to the station. But again, who has time to run to the police all the time.
 
EagleSmack
#4
Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

My ex-wife was black. Her uncle-in-law got pulled over by the police everytime he drove his car wile wearing a baseball cap . Each time it was to check that the car wasn't stolen.

.

Yeah... I believe that.

 
bobnoorduyn
#5
The issue came up a number of years ago when an American boxer was visiting family in Halifax and was stopped presumably for DWB. I don't know if it was ever challenged in court but the authorities claim that anyone conducting an activity that requires a license may be detained and asked to show proof that they are so licensed. This is why we now need boater cards, though it is not a license per se, it gives them the right to stop us on lakes and check that we meet the laundry list of requirements to operate a watercraft. Check stops kind of bend the letter of the law a bit as they are not checking for licenses, and if suspected of DWI they will direct you to move to a certain area thus having you break the law further.


In Canada we need a license or permit for nearly everything, though I've rarely been stopped randomly for driving I have been often stopped and asked to produce proof that I'm legally allowed to do everything else such as boating, fishing, hunting, flying, carrying a firearm, and even cycling, (but only once, it doesn't require a license but I was in a sort of restricted area). You're not even safe from the man walking your dog these days because in certain jurisdictions dogs need a license.


Where probable cause is needed is to search you or your vehicle.
 
Tecumsehsbones
#6
Quote: Originally Posted by davesmom View Post

I hope someone will enlighten me about something I am curious about. I don't know American laws.


I'm hearing complaints from black American motorists that they are stopped frequently by police for no reason.
Doesn't 'probably cause' apply to traffic police?
Here in Canada he police will only stop a vehicle if there is something wrong with the vehicle like a tail light out or a cracked windshield. Or if the driver has committed a traffic violation. Unless there is probable cause to stop a motorist the police cannot do it.
So I'm wondering if that law applies in the States and if so, why don't those who are stopped for no reason report it immediately?


I also wonder, if traffic policing is a State responsibility, what can the Federal Government do about it?

OK. . .

The term is "probable cause." That is the standard for arrest. It means the same thing as it means in Canada: that the officer has, based on observable, objective facts, reason to believe that a crime is being committed or has been committed.

There is also the standard for detention. That standard is "reasonable suspicion." If an officer has, based on objective facts and reasonable inferences drawn therefrom, a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime, the officer may detain the person, obligate the person to identify herself, interrogate the person as to her presence and actions, and if the officer has reasonable suspicion that the person may be armed, "frisk" the person, defined as a brief pat-down of the outer clothing for evidence of weapons. Under no circumstances is one ever required to answer police questions beyond identifying oneself, and that only in states that require it.

There are two sources of the "traffic stop" problem. First, there are reams of data showing that the police stop, search, cite, and arrest black people disproportionately. But the sources are these. . .

Stops for minor violations, such as speeding by just a few miles per hour, non-functioning taillights or license plate lights, and the like.

"Pretextual" stops, where the officer claims some fictional reason for stopping the person, such as "failing to signal 100 feet before a turn or lane change," or "crossing lane dividers." In these cases there is reason to believe, and increasingly, video evidence that the stop is actually for DWB (driving while black), and the alleged infraction is merely an excuse. An officer must be able to show reasonable suspicion or a specific traffic violation to stop a driver.

In the case of minor violations, some claim that cops stop blacks more often because of racism and/or because they are generating revenue for the state. In the case of pretextual stops, the claim is racism.

Data shows that blacks who are stopped are also more likely to be removed from the car (which cops can do for their safety), searched (lawfully or unlawfully), and arrested (rather than cited) disproportionately.

As to why they don't report it, it's a combination of the difficulty in reporting such things, and a strong conviction that nothing will be done about it. Both of those opinions are well backed by evidence.

Traffic policing is indeed a State responsibility, but civil rights and discrimination is a Federal responsibility.
 
EagleSmack
#7
Quote: Originally Posted by bobnoorduyn View Post

The issue came up a number of years ago when an American boxer was visiting family in Halifax and was stopped presumably for DWB .

D riving W earing a B allcap.

It happens all the time here in the US.
 
taxslave
#8
Oh. I thought it Driving While Blind. Lots of that goes on here just the cops never seem to do anything about it.
 
Machjo
#9
Quote: Originally Posted by EagleSmack View Post

D riving W earing a B allcap.

It happens all the time here in the US.

One thing I'd never asked him but that had crossed my mind the moment he'd mentioned it was whether he was wearing the front part of the cap facing forward or off to the side. I'd always seen him wearing it forward, but never in his car. In his car, I'd always seen him take it off completely (lesson learnt?). Based on my observation of him wearing it outside the car, I presume he was wearing it facing forward, but if off to the side, then that could definitely make him look like a gang member. Ah stereotypes!
 
Machjo
#10
He was actually well-dressed otherwise. He liked his black leather jacket, always well-cared-for and looking new. Worked for the covernment in some IT role I can'd remember. But yeah, black man, nice car, ball cap, recipe for disaster!
 
bobnoorduyn
#11
Quote: Originally Posted by EagleSmack View Post

D riving W earing a B allcap.

It happens all the time here in the US.


Guess we're not so different
 
EagleSmack
#12
Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

One thing I'd never asked him but that had crossed my mind the moment he'd mentioned it was whether he was wearing the front part of the cap facing forward or off to the side. I'd always seen him wearing it forward, but never in his car. In his car, I'd always seen him take it off completely (lesson learnt?). Based on my observation of him wearing it outside the car, I presume he was wearing it facing forward, but if off to the side, then that could definitely make him look like a gang member. Ah stereotypes!

That is important information Machjo. I would think you should continue your research on this. As you have discovered thus far it is not only the direction of the visor that is important to whether you get pulled over but the visor's angle in relation to the earth's horizon.

Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

He was actually well-dressed otherwise. He liked his black leather jacket, always well-cared-for and looking new. Worked for the covernment in some IT role I can'd remember. But yeah, black man, nice car, ball cap, recipe for disaster!

Again... depending on the visor direction and tilt.

When people tell me they got pulled over my first two questions are...

Were you wearing a ball cap?

Which direction was the visor?

Then I will follow up asking for degree of visor tilt.
 
bobnoorduyn
#13
Quote: Originally Posted by taxslave View Post

Oh. I thought it Driving While Blind. Lots of that goes on here just the cops never seem to do anything about it.


I think they would have their hands full, It's waaay too common in NS and AB. I think the Halifax case was Driving While Boxing, he was fairly well known so I'm sure they had their suspicions.
 
EagleSmack
#14
Quote: Originally Posted by taxslave View Post

Oh. I thought it Driving While Blind. Lots of that goes on here just the cops never seem to do anything about it.

Because they are not wearing ball caps.
 
Cannuck
#15
Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

People have lives to live. How many times are you going to report a cop to the police.

I report them every time they need to be reported. Whether it is harassing people, acting unsafely or just being a general douche.

We have lots of rookie cops around here. Because of the low crime rate, it's a good place for the RCMP to stick the young'ns right out of depot. More often then not they think they have something to prove. The Sgt can't deal with issues unless they are reported.
 
Machjo
#16
Quote: Originally Posted by EagleSmack View Post

That is important information Machjo. I would think you should continue your research on this. As you have discovered thus far it is not only the direction of the visor that is important to whether you get pulled over but the visor's angle in relation to the earth's horizon.

He was certainly not pulled over for his ability to see though. He said he was pulled over only when wearing a ball cap, so it would seem to have played a role beyond just his race. However, the police never mentioned his cap as the issue, but checking that the car wasn't stolen.

I'd never seen him wear a cap while driving, but always outside the car with the cap facing forward. I don't know if in BC at the time (many years ago) there was a law against it but I doubt it if the cop said nothing about it. If the cap faced forward, maybe a visilibity issue, but the cop would presumably have mentioned that. That is what led me to wonder how he was wearing it. for example, if he had worn it sideways, that would completely have eliminated any visibility argument. If forward and the cop still didn't mention it, then unless it was just coincidence, the cap played some kind of role to get him pulled over but for something other than wearing the cap itself (i.e. stealing a car).

Ergo, if you are a black man driving a car while wearing a ball cop, you must have stolen the car.
Last edited by Machjo; Oct 7th, 2016 at 12:53 PM..
 
bobnoorduyn
+1
#17
Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

He was actually well-dressed otherwise. He liked his black leather jacket, always well-cared-for and looking new. Worked for the covernment in some IT role I can'd remember. But yeah, black man, nice car, ball cap, recipe for disaster!



That even happened to Morgan Freeman in Hollyweird, the second time they even left him handcuffed to a tree or some other immovable object, he never mentioned the ball cap thing though.
 
EagleSmack
+1
#18
Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

He was certainly not pulled over for his ability to see though. He said he was pulled over only when wearing a ball cap, so it would seem to have played a role beyond just his race. However, the police never mentioned his cap as the issue, but checking that the car wasn't stolen.

I'd never seen him wear a cap while driving, but always outside the car with the cap facing forward. I don't know if in BC at the time (many years ago) there was a law against it but I doubt it if the cop said nothing about it. If the cap faced forward, maybe a visilibity issue, but the cop would presumably have mentioned that. That is what led me to wonder how he was wearing it.

Absolutely! Whenever I see someone with a ball cap to the side and tilted I say...

"He better not be driving in a car with a ball cap in that position. He'll get pulled over and they'll check to see if his car is stolen regardless of his good government IT job and black leather jacket."


Quote: Originally Posted by bobnoorduyn View Post

That even happened to Morgan Freeman in Hollyweird, the second time they even left him handcuffed to a tree or some other immovable object, he never mentioned the ball cap thing though.

That is surprising.

Sometimes cops carry ball cap throw downs just in case they want to pull someone over. As soon as they pull a guy over they put a ball cap on his head with an inappropriate tilt and visor direction. When this happens you often here from the driver...

I didn't even do nothing!
 
Machjo
#19
Quote: Originally Posted by EagleSmack View Post

Absolutely! Whenever I see someone with a ball cap to the side and tilted I say...

"He better not be driving in a car with a ball cap in that position. He'll get pulled over and they'll check to see if his car is stolen regardless of his good government IT job and black leather jacket."




That is surprising.

Sometimes cops carry ball cap throw downs just in case they want to pull someone over. As soon as they pull a guy over they put a ball cap on his head with an inappropriate tilt and visor direction. When this happens you often here from the driver...

I didn't even do nothing!


Hey, let's be honest. You're a cop checking for a stolen car. You see two cars pass by fitting the description (for some reason, you don't have the licence plate, so you gotta guess which one is the stolen car.

One driver, though shifty-eyed, trying to hide his face from you, trying to get away withoud drawing attention to himself, is white and wearing no ball cap, and the other driver, black with a ball cap on his head but looking normal otherwise, which will you pull over.

Me, defintely the black guy wearing the ball cap. The other guy's shifty eyes might just be naturally shifty.

So I guess Canada is not must different from the US after all, eh.

We need the anti-black-ball-cap-drivers squad.
 
IdRatherBeSkiing
#20
Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

Hey, let's be honest. You're a cop checking for a stolen car. You see two cars pass by fitting the description (for some reason, you don't have the licence plate, so you gotta guess which one is the stolen car.

One driver, though shifty-eyed, trying to hide his face from you, trying to get away withoud drawing attention to himself, is white and wearing no ball cap, and the other driver, black with a ball cap on his head but looking normal otherwise, which will you pull over.

Me, defintely the black guy wearing the ball cap. The other guy's shifty eyes might just be naturally shifty.

So I guess Canada is not must different from the US after all, eh.

We need the anti-black-ball-cap-drivers squad.


Pretty sh-itty police work to not have the plate number.
 
bobnoorduyn
#21
Quote: Originally Posted by EagleSmack View Post




That is surprising.

Sometimes cops carry ball cap throw downs just in case they want to pull someone over. As soon as they pull a guy over they put a ball cap on his head with an inappropriate tilt and visor direction. When this happens you often here from the driver...

I didn't even do nothing!


And there you have it, I'm sure double negatives are a misdemeanor too.
 
Machjo
#22
Quote: Originally Posted by IdRatherBeSkiing View Post

Pretty sh-itty police work to not have the plate number.

Hey, I didn't thin I needed it. I figured I'd just follow the car with a black driver wearing a baseball cap. The easiest way to spot a car thief. If he denies stealing it and shows me proof of ownership, I'll get right on to proving the documentation is false and start looking for the true owner.

"But I am the owner." Check every file at your disposal, you'll see."

"Yeah, but we have black people working in the government too. How do I know one of them isn't your accomplice and faked the documentaiton form the inside?"

"Now that you mention it, I work for the government too, in IT."

"Aha! I knew it. You faked your own ID. Now we just need to find someone who will claim the car as his."
 
bobnoorduyn
+1
#23
Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

Hey, let's be honest. You're a cop checking for a stolen car. You see two cars pass by fitting the description (for some reason, you don't have the licence plate, so you gotta guess which one is the stolen car.

One driver, though shifty-eyed, trying to hide his face from you, trying to get away withoud drawing attention to himself, is white and wearing no ball cap, and the other driver, black with a ball cap on his head but looking normal otherwise, which will you pull over.

Me, defintely the black guy wearing the ball cap. The other guy's shifty eyes might just be naturally shifty.

So I guess Canada is not must different from the US after all, eh.

We need the anti-black-ball-cap-drivers squad.


Let's not get started on the ball cap under the hoodie, that is an absolute admission of guilt.
 
Machjo
#24
Quote: Originally Posted by bobnoorduyn View Post

And there you have it, I'm sure double negatives are a misdemeanor too.

And you get a scene like that on police video, black skin, ballcap, bad grammar, he is srewed!
 
bobnoorduyn
#25
Quote: Originally Posted by Machjo View Post

And you get a scene like that on police video, black skin, ballcap, bad grammar, he is srewed!


Yo, I axed them not to do nothin'.
 
Tecumsehsbones
#26
Before we crack ourselves up too much minimizing and effectively denying that black people are treated differently, and worse, by the cops, here is Senator Tim Scott, a conservative Republican, on the subject:

[youtube]8D1jz0aJ76k[/youtube]
 
EagleSmack
#27
Quote: Originally Posted by bobnoorduyn View Post

Let's not get started on the ball cap under the hoodie, that is an absolute admission of guilt.

Geez... they are bringing the Impact Units for those guys.
 
bobnoorduyn
#28
Quote: Originally Posted by Tecumsehsbones View Post

Before we crack ourselves up too much minimizing and effectively denying that black people are treated differently, and worse, by the cops, here is Senator Tim Scott, a conservative Republican, on the subject:

[youtube]8D1jz0aJ76k[/youtube]


I don't think anyone here is denying it at all, or denying that there aren't serious problems with law enforcement. Even though they have more freedom to stop you in Canada than in the US the problems aren't quite as visible or wide spread but they do exist here too. But some folks do fit a certain stereotype with the way they dress and conduct themselves, black, white or other. LEO's, if not born suspicious certainly seem to be trained to be whether they are enforcing criminal, traffic, wildlife, transportation or other laws. The job seems to attract a certain type , and no doubt some bring their personal biases and prejudices to the job.
 
Machjo
#29
Any black man who does not wear a suit and tie at all times deserves to be stopped. Heck, I expect him to wear a tuxedo at all times.
 
Remington1
#30
Probable cause might be too broad in officers minds? Cops have a difficult job, they get thank for saving a home and family from a home invasion, but spit in the cops face when they are called to come down to jail and find out their daughter was the one who had organized the robbery with her new boyfriend! Same thing for domestic abuse, a huge thanks for saving my life and rescuing my babes, but at one point during the arrest 'a change' usually occurs and the cops are called pigs and told to fu$#k off and leave the abuser alone!! People are strange.
 

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