Police encounter - I debated even posting it

This is a discussion on Police encounter - I debated even posting it within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Well here's my story, and it's a long one. Before anyone says anything, I understand it's at least partly my fault that it happened in ...

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Thread: Police encounter - I debated even posting it

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    VIP Member Array paaiyan's Avatar
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    Police encounter - I debated even posting it

    Well here's my story, and it's a long one. Before anyone says anything, I understand it's at least partly my fault that it happened in the first place. The back story - my girlfriend and I went out to one of the local lakes Friday night for a picnic and some picture taking. We both enjoy photography and were hoping for some decent photo ops. Also, I drive a 2002 Wrangler with a lift kit, 33" tires and several aftermarket upgrades I've done myself. This is important.

    We get to the lake around the time the sun is starting to set and decide to get some pictures in the fading light and eat afterward. There's a road that goes all the way around the lake with roads that go inward towards the lake lookout points, each of these has a little cul-de-sac circle type thing at the end. I can see an obvious path going off from this circle and it's equally as obvious that off-road vehicles (ORVs) regularly traverse said trail. Yeah there are a couple big rocks there, but there's no fence, railing, sign or anything else that leads me to believe I shouldn't go there. So I did.

    I put it in 4WL and start down the trail a little, we get a couple pictures with the Jeep as a prop, then pull it back up the trail a little for a couple more pictures. About the time I get out I see a cop pull into the little cul-de-sac and come to a stop when he sees us. He gets out and I immediately know what's coming. I start walking up the trail and before I even get to him he whips out an attitude I wasn't expecting.

    Cop: "What do you think you're doing here?"
    Me: "Well we just came down for a picnic and"
    Cop: "So you had to drive down here to do it?"
    Me: "Well we were planning on taking some pictures also."
    Cop: "So you had to drive down there to do it? You know it's not that far from where I'm parked to where you're at. You know you Jeep guys are some of the most disrespectful people, coming down here and tearing stuff up."

    At this point I start handing him my license and CCW, I'm required to notify. He doesn't even look at them for a minute after he takes them. My girlfriend starts walking up. Also, let it be known that I don't tear things up. I stick to trails.

    Cop: "You know it's a $200 ticket for trespassing and $275 for the impound? What made you think you could come down here? Give me three indicators. Give me three good ones or I'm going to write you a ticket."

    I'm thinking he means things that would have indicated I *should* come down the trail, so I'm stumbling for words. My girlfriend arrives.

    Me: " I really don't know, sir. I just didn't think it would be a problem to pull it down a little ways. I apologize."
    Cop: "Well let me ask you young lady: give me three indicators that you shouldn't drive down there."
    GF: "Well I can only think of one..."
    Cop: "And what was that?"
    GF: "Well there are a couple rocks up at the head of the trail. But they didn't seem very convincing at the time..."
    Cop: "How about the lack of a paved road?"

    Immediately we both think "but it's a Jeep." Neither of us are about to say that though. At this point he finally looks at my license.

    Cop: "I didn't ask you for a military ID."
    Me: "It's not, it's a"
    Cop: "Oh it's one of those."
    Me: "I'm required to give you that."
    Cop: "Right. *Hands them back. His demeanor immediately changes.* So just what are you doing down there?"
    Me: "We were taking some pictures and going to have some dinner."
    Cop: "And you had to drive down there? It's not that far to walk."
    Me: "No, sir, we wanted pictures *with* the Jeep."
    Cop: "I see."
    Me: "But I'll pull it back up immediately if I need to."
    Cop: "Yeah, I guess you should."
    Me: "Well I'll get it pulled back up here then. And I apologize again sir."
    Cop: "Alright, just keep it on the pavement next time."

    He takes off as I head sheepishly back to the Jeep. I pull it back up to the cul-de-sac, we got our pictures before he got there anyway. We finished our pictures and picnic, all the while commenting how there were no real indicators that I shouldn't have gone down. It's a well-known fact that the lake has a series of ORV trails, I assumed it was one of them. We went to another lake yesterday and it had signs telling you where you could and could not take motor vehicles, where you could and could not skate/bicycle. I was convinced it wasn't my fault at that point.

    We also talked about how his demeanor immediately changed when he saw the CCW, although he never said a single word more than "oh it's one of those." Never asked me if/what/where/how I was carrying, never told me to keep my hands where he could see them.

    So there's my story. Yes I know it was my fault for ignoring such *obvious* signs that I shouldn't have been there. However it turned out alright. He let me go with a verbal warning and a story to tell.
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    Sounds like he was in a bad mood.

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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    Yep. Somethin got him goin earlier, and you were on the recieving end.

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    I would question the lack of signage myself. Most parks have signs stating the rules and whether off-roading is permitted. Who owns the property around the lake? It sounds to me more like a LEO with with his butt on his shoulder and spouting a lot of hot air. It sounds like you (and your girl) handled it well.
    Retired USAF E-8. Avatar is OldVet from days long gone. Oh, to be young again.
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    Senior Member Array Sig35seven's Avatar
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    As you may be respectful to the forest around you there are many others that are not. I hate those big monster trucks ripping up the country side. They should only be allowed to go in designated areas.

    BTW...most of the high wheeled monster trucks are illegal and very dangerous, yet the highway patrol looks the other way and doesn't enforce the law. At least not here in Florida.
    "Confidence is food for the wise man but liquor for the fool"

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    VIP Member Array paaiyan's Avatar
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    Well I know a lot of the city's cops (not this one) and took a citizen's police academy with them a while back. Just a class to get to know the inner workings of the department better. So I have a lot of respect for officers even if they are in a bad mood. I'm sure something happened to put him in a bad mood and he assumed we were a couple drunk kids out screwing around.

    The property around the lake is public property as far as I know. Google maps confirms this, it's a state park. I'm just glad I didn't end up with a ticket. I'm not in a financial position that would allow me to just pay a $200 ticket and $275 to get my only vehicle out of impound.

    And nothing about my Jeep is illegal. It's not a "monster truck." My Jeep, even with the lift and tires, is narrower and shorter in length than many sedans. It's just tall and has a lot of clearance. There's no law against lift kits and my tires are DOT-approved. I respect the land very much, and like I said I stick to trails. Please don't turn my thread into your personal rant against something you don't understand.

    EDIT: This is the Jeep in question. http://s65.photobucket.com/albums/h209/paaiyan/Jeep/
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    Ex Member Array WhoWeBePart1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldVet View Post
    I would question the lack of signage myself. Most parks have signs stating the rules and whether off-roading is permitted. Who owns the property around the lake?
    This is what I was thinking.

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    At least it ended well.
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    Hey, nobody is perfect. It looks like you were able to deal with the officer in such a way that neither ones day got even worse than it already was.
    In the future I would suggest checking with the park office (if they have one) to see if they have maps available. Either that or keep it on the pavement unless you are going in at a signed trail head. Next time it might not work out so well.
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    Senior Member Array deafdave3's Avatar
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    I honestly don't think you're wrong at all. However, I would go to his supervisor, or further, and make a written complaint about his professional conduct and demeanor.
    A CCW is like a parachute; if you need one, and don't have one, you'll probably never need one again.

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    VIP Member Array gottabkiddin's Avatar
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    Sounds like you made the best outa a bad situation.
    "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." Luke 22:36

    "If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so." Thomas Jefferson

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    VIP Member Array paaiyan's Avatar
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    I didn't even get his name actually. When he first started talking it was hard for me to focus on anything besides trying to get away without a ticket; I didn't even think to. I attribute his attitude to his looking forward to working a long Labor Day weekend filled with people drinking, partying and just being stupid in general. In the future I'll make it a point to get names though.
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    What a *****. If there were no signs telling you that you couldn't be down there I can't see how he could write a ticket that a judge wouldn't dismiss. If it was me I would have given him three reasons,
    1) I saw no signs telling me to stay the hell out.
    2) It is obvious by looking at the trails that others have been driving down these trails.
    3) Because I wanted some cool photos of my Jeep doing what it is made to do.

    I would tell him that if they didn't want people in there they need to post signs and put some posts, boulders or other barrier making entry to the trails impossible. It sounds like it ended ok for you.
    When Seconds Count, The Cops Are Just Minutes Away!!
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    VIP Member Array gottabkiddin's Avatar
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    ..............Ticket............





    "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." Luke 22:36

    "If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so." Thomas Jefferson

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    Distinguished Member Array Spec's Avatar
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    "it's a Jeep thing you wouldn't understand"..... That's what I was thinking the whole time!
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