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The TerryReport

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Doug Terry

 

FORMER COLLEAGUE SLAMS BILL OREILLY

WalMart Minimum Wage Raised

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BOB SIMON OF CBS NEWS

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Obama Not in France

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NOTE: The type of problems detailed here are mainly impacting interstate, long distance drivers. The potential to have money stolen by police is much lower if you are traveling within 50 to 100 miles of your residence. However, there was a case of a police department in east Texas that made a practice of stopping anyone, including people from inside the state, and seizing cash.

The Washington Post is running a three part series on police confiscating cash from motorists they stop on the highways. Millions of dollars are disappearing from cars into police hands. Americas police forces were given authority to seize cash under certain limited conditions by laws passed by Congress intended to reduce drug traffic on the highways, but police forces around the country have turned the practice into a money making scheme to pay for new equipment and other perceived needs of police forces. The full story is at the Washington Post, but, meanwhile, here are some tips to help avoid having money stolen from you while traveling:

1. Dont carry large amounts of cash. If you are transferring cash for personal or business needs, get a cashiers check made out to the payee or send the cash by wire or other transfer. It is safer than traveling the roads these days with cash to send it, rather than carry it. If the cashiers check is made out to you, the police cant cash it unless you sign it over to them (dont) One other possibility: have the check made out to a trusted person, such as a relative, who will be at the end of your journey. Then, you can go to the bank, cash the check with that person and have your money. If you arent traveling with cash, the police can hardly claim you might have drug money (drug deals dont happen with checks of any sort.)

2. Dont ever put an air freshener hanging on your rearview mirror. This is one of the signs that police look for to indicate it might be a drug car, used for repeated, long distance travel.

3. Never let trash, like fast food wrappers, etc., pile up on the seats or on the floorboards of the car. A dirty car is another sign for police that you might be a long distance drug courier. If you have food trash, put it in one bag and out of sight, like in the back floorboard on the passenger side or underneath something you are carrying with you. Hide it. Also: if you use energy drinks, dont leave the cans lying about.

4. If you tend to get very nervous if stopped by police, try to act as calm as possible. Wear a sweater or some other clothing that covers up your neck area. The police are taught to look for a pulsing carotid artery in your neck as a sign of extreme nervousness.

5. If you must carry more than one thousand dollars in cash, try to wrap it in such a way that it does not emit a smell. Wrapped very tightly in plastic wrapping, put inside another bag and then inside a small suitcase. Inside your trunk is safer than inside the car. The police may not search the glove compartment or trunk without permission. (There are indications that some police have trained drug sniffing dogs to sniff out cash, then, if the question arises, they can tell a judge that the dog alerted, justifying a further search, which then turned up the cash.)

6. If the police ask you where you are going and why, act calm. They are not entitled to this information, but just respond directly and honestly in short sentences. I am going to my mothers house in Alabama. I am going to start a new job in Kansas. Your answers do not have to be true (you havent been sworn), but if you change your answers, hesitate about what you are saying or otherwise seem confused, you will arouse suspicions (Lying to police can be a legal charge after the fact in some circumstances. Consult a lawyer for the complete answer on this issue.).

7. After stopping you, checking your license and registration and then giving you a ticket, the police do not have the authority to detain your longer. You may go on your way. If you get a mean or angry officer, they might tell you otherwise. Dont believe them. If you go about your travels, it is always possible that the same officer, being angry, might pull you over again.. If that happens, pull off again and ask what the problem is, calmly. If they say they want you to stay for a drug dog to come, tell them you dont have any drugs and you want to go on your way. From that point forward, it is up to you as to whether you feel threatened and decide whether or not to leave. Legally, you may leave. Actually, the officer might get violent and try to stop you. Your call. Whatever you do, stay as calm as possible and dont act out of anger yourself.

8. If the police find and take money, DONT SIGN A RELEASE GIVING THEM THE MONEY. Many officers will say that you can go on your way, not be arrested, if you sign the release. Dont do it. You are in for eight months to a year of legal troubles getting the money back once they have it and the waiver only makes it much harder.

9. Know your legal rights and try not to be intimidated. Remain calm at all times and dont be argumentative. Assert your rights, but dont be belligerent.

10. Stay calm, reasonable and cooperative.

11. Dont give the police permission to search your car. They cant search without a warrant or without your permission. You gain nothing by allowing a search and there is always the possibility, however remote, that an officer could plant something in the vehicle, meaning you would have to try to prove it wasnt yours. After youve presented your license, registration and been given a ticket or warning, you are free to go about your business.

The TerryReport does not generally write articles about how not to cooperate with police officers. This is a special case. We consider this site an advocate for democracy and individual rights (as well as responsibilities). Americas local police forces, in many cases, are out on the roads hunting money to take. One officer called it a gold mine. This is theft by another name and this is a problem that has developed over a period of years and, according to the Post, is being aided by profit making companies operating in concert with police agencies. The only choice citizens have until the laws are changed and police brought to heal is to fight back quietly, honestly and calmly, knowing you might lose the immediate conflict and being prepared to take the matter to court if required. The best way to avoid a court battle is to not allow police to take the money in the first place.

Doug Terry, 9.8.14

 

From the Washington Post series:

Black Asphalt: The Black Asphalt Electronic Networking & Notification System is used to share reports of traffic stops, most related to drug enforcement, among member law enforcement officers and agencies across the country. Indicators that made police suspicious have included:

  • Dark window tinting
  • Air fresheners or their smell
  • Trash littering a vehicle
  • An inconsistent or unlikely travel story
  • A vehicle on a long trip that is clean or lacks baggage
  • A profusion of energy drinks
  • A driver who is too talkative, or too quiet
  • Signs of nervousness, such as sweating, swallowing or redness of face
  • Designer apparel or other clothing that seems inappropriate
  • Multiple cellphones

NOTE: Black Asphalt is a private operation that aids police departments in finding drug couriers and seizing money from them and ordinary, non-criminal citizens.

So, following the list above:

1. Dont get dark window tinting

2. Dont use air fresheners

3. Dont have trash littering the car.

4. Dont tell a stupid story about where you are going, what you are doing, etc. Have a story, plain and simple and stick to it. Dont be intimidated of the officer says, But you just said you were going to...

5. How would they know you lack baggage if it is in the trunk? Carry some items in the car itself. Make it look like a normal trip, which is what it should be.

6. Dont leave energy drink cans out.

7. Dont talk too much (show nervousness) or too little (shows you might be scared as just want to get back on your way).

8. Stay calm. You are not under arrest and you should not assume you are under suspicion of anything just because youyve been stopped.

9. Dress normally. Dont look like you are going out to a party when you are on a long distance trip. Dont wear fancy clothes.

10. If you have more than one cell phone, store them in the center unit between the seats or somewhere else where it will be out of sight.

Note: if you have something that might look questionable under these guidelines, dont try to hide it while you are being pulled over. That is an immediate sign that you might be a good target for law enforcement and would be sure to arouse suspicions.

These tips are offered by The TerryReport so that law abiding citizens can try to avoid having money seized while traveling and then face up to a year in court trying to get it back.

Also from the Washington Post series:

Civil forfeiture cash seizures

Under the federal Equitable Sharing Program, police have seized $2.5 billion since 2001 from people who were not charged with a crime and without a warrant being issued. Police reasoned that the money was crime-related. About $1.7 billion  was sent back to law enforcement agencies for their use.

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