American Police State Fleecing Tourists

American Police State Fleecing Tourists September 24, 2014

American shakedown: Police won’t charge you, but they’ll grab your money

U.S. police are operating a co-ordinated scheme to seize as much of the public’s cash as they can

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  • jroberts548

    There was a pretty good New Yorker profile on this issue last year.

    It’s even more insidious than the article here suggests. It’s not just cash, it’s also houses and cars. Many police departments are little more than armed robbery conspiracies.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Seems like totalitarianism on the march!

  • Frank

    Over here in the Philippines, we have a term for this: “hulidap”, a portmanteau of the words “huli” and “hold-up”.

    “Huli” literally means “catch”, which in this case refers to an arrest or another situation where one gets stopped or pulled over by police. “Hold-up”, of course, is armed robbery. The term, as you may have already figured out, refers to the police robbing citizens under “official” (but false) pretenses.

    Good (bad?) to know that we’re not the only ones havin’ such crap goin’ on.

  • Joseph

    So, what would be the alternative to following their ‘official’ orders, I wonder? An appearance in a viral YouTube video of these tourists heads getting put through their windows then beaten on the ground with nightsticks while their bodies are still convulsing from electric pulses delivered by tasers (if they’re lucky)?

    • iamlucky13

      If they ask for permission to search your car, you politely say no. Then ask if you are free to go. If you are not, then you are subject to a police stop. It must be because he has probable cause to believe you have committed an infraction or a crime, which he would have authority to investigate. He may not search your car without either a warrant or probable cause to believe there is evidence of the crime that would be compromised if he waited for a warrant (such as if he smelled marijuana). If you are driving, they may ask for license, registration, and proof of insurance.

      An ignorant and overzealous or a corrupt cop may not follow these rules. Follow their instructions (politely decline requests) even if you know you are not legally obligated to do so, but remember what transpires so you can write it down afterwards. Don’t give them an excuse to try sticking you with a resisting arrest charge.

      If they seize anything from you, document it. For example, if they seize cash, save a copy of any bank records documenting the withdrawal, and any receipts you may have from between the withdrawal until you are able to talk to a lawyer.

      If they threaten to seize your car, I’m not sure what to do, but I’d probably ask if you’re under arrest. Regardless, if they decide to proceed, I’d probably say something like, “I guess that means you need to drive me to the station.” I’d want to get another person’s eyes on what is being taken and make sure it gets recorded.

      Don’t volunteer information and don’t be rude. Even a corrupt cop may decide to leave alone a person who doesn’t challenge their authority and appears to know their rights (asks if free to leave, only speaks to respond to questions, denies request for search) rather than risk that they may sue for their property back and bring scrutiny down on them.

      I trust most police officers as a matter of course, but I know there are some bad ones out there.

      • Joseph

        NOT without a dashcam. My suggestion is *get a dashcam*. Politely saying ‘no’ can result in contusions, handcuffs, an impounded car, and a really bad day. Don’t do it without a dashcam.

        • Marthe Lépine

          But maybe the cop will want to confiscate your dashcam, in order to be able to erase what is on it. Unless you get a dashcam that automatically transfers everything to your computer at home, but that could be expensive. However, maybe car rental companies could rent that kind of dashcams with the cars….
          It is sad when even the police departments become so corrupt as to steal from travelers… As I said before, I am beginning to feel like I assume people in European countries with common frontiers with the URSS must have felt at the time of the Cold War…

          • Joseph

            Those types of cops are usually not that smart. You can explain that the video is streaming to a remote server and that confiscating is actually illegal. Whether or not that’s true, their tone will change at that moment for fear of being *caught* like so many of their colleagues on YouTube.

            • Marthe Lépine

              Good point. I don’t know a lot about such electronic wonders, so the idea of a remote server instead of a person’s home computer never came to mind. Thank you.

        • iamlucky13

          I strongly disagree. Don’t throw away your best legal recours.

          Regardless of whether you have a dashcam, with your hands loosely on the wheel in plain sight, politely say no, and if they insist, follow their directions and say you will be contacting your lawyer as soon as you are through to discuss the legality of this search.

          Do not voluntarily consent to a search you are under no obligation to submit to. Leave it to them to illegally order it.

          If you consent, they gain a potentially enormous upper hand legally. If you don’t they have to prove they had probable cause to believe there was evidence of a crime that could not wait for a warrant.

          Even the most corrupt seldom fly off the handle unless you’re rude to them or unless they’ve already decided they feel like hurting somebody.

  • Joseph

    I have a cousin who is a US diplomat… he has a dash cam… a US diplomat. Let that sink in.

  • Marthe Lépine

    I hope that Canadian tourists do take the hint from the CBC story you have linked, and realize that there are so many beautiful areas in their own country, why take such risks… But I am beginning to feel worried for those retired people we are calling “Snowbirds” who enjoy their migration to Florida every winter.

  • Elaine S.

    This does NOT happen all over America all the time. It happens mainly in states where asset forfeiture laws give the police free rein to decide what to do with the money and goods they seize. In other states, forfeited assets are placed in a state fund that is earmarked for another purpose, which gives cops less incentive to target people just for the money. Only one state, North Carolina, forbids civil asset forfeiture completely — there, property cannot be seized unless you have been CONVICTED of a crime.

    This chart by the conservative/libertarian leaning Mercatus Institute ranks the states according to the nature of their asset forfeiture laws; orange states have the best laws while dark blue/black states have the worst. Click on any state for more details about its laws.