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February 18, 2004 12:18 PM   Subscribe

Papers, please! On March 22, the Supreme Court will hear a case that will answer whether or not citizens have to provide identification whenever police demand it.
posted by Irontom (43 comments total)

 
Well, sort of. According to Dudley anyway. In reality the Supreme Court will hear a case that will answer whether or not citizens have to provide identification whenever police demand it, when they've been called on you because you beat the crap out of your wife/girlfriend.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:58 PM on February 18, 2004


Hell, if you're gonna refuse to show your ID to cops when they ask you for it, you might as well make a REAL stand and just not get any identification at all. That'll show the people of this country a thing or two.
posted by Witty at 1:02 PM on February 18, 2004


how will i drink myself stupid without an id?
posted by fishfucker at 1:05 PM on February 18, 2004


Pollomacho - it was his daughter and he did not hit her at all. She hit him in the shoulder and they yelled at each other. Me thinks we are still allowed to yell at each other. Or is that no longer the case?
posted by filchyboy at 1:05 PM on February 18, 2004


Yeah, it's one thing to be asked for an ID if you're just "standing around minding [your] own business" (and I'd love a true litmus test of that to come before the courts). It's quite another if there is a valid police investigation going on, and you fail to cooperate.
posted by jpoulos at 1:07 PM on February 18, 2004


filchyboy - So what. The cop still has to investigate... and the man CLEARLY was making that difficult for the officer. It's a case of obstruction. The video is taking forever to load, but the transcript doesn't make a very good case for the cowboy in my opinion. He sounds like an uncooperative idiot with something to hide.
posted by Witty at 1:09 PM on February 18, 2004


Me thinks we are still allowed to yell at each other. Or is that no longer the case?

That's not at all the issue. If the police get a report of a domestic disturbance, they can use reasonable means to investigate it. If there was no real violence, then there's no crime, and everyone gets to go home and finish yelling at each other. The issue here is whether someone being investigated for a possible crime has the right to just say "no" and walk away. I don't think they do. In that scenario, I think it's perfectly reasonable to take someone "downtown", where he/she can obtain a lawyer, and the mess can be straightened out.
posted by jpoulos at 1:11 PM on February 18, 2004


Zod help me, I agree with Witty. :-)
posted by jpoulos at 1:12 PM on February 18, 2004


I am not defending the fellow. I am pointing out that noone involved in this situation beat their wife or girlfriend.

And yes jpoulos I too would like to see real test of this in the future. It doesn't look like this is that test case though.

Still if we are going to discuss this it would be most helpful to lump him in with wife beaters.
posted by filchyboy at 1:17 PM on February 18, 2004


Whoops, I mean **not** to lump him in with wife beaters.
posted by filchyboy at 1:19 PM on February 18, 2004


And the cops know that because why exactly? All they know is that there has been a report of a domestic incident, they arrive and find Mr. belligerent "cowboy" who won't even give them an ID. I'm not saying that he may or may not have a real issue here, but I'm just trying to argue from the police perspective. They aren't always jackasses you know, sometimes when they get domestic disturbance calls, there really is a woman (or man even) getting the crap beaten out of them, its their job to assess the facts and make a judgement. When a person involved in the situation refuses to provide information, that is called obstruction and they are not required to participate in your own investigation of their investigation.

On the video, the first thing the cop tells Dudley is what he's investigating, "We've got a report there's been fighting going on." From there on Dudley begins to get uncooperative with the cop, probably because he's already ticked at his daughter, but the situation gets worse. All we get in the post is Dudley's perspective, one side of the story, but already, because of his evidence I'm already convinced otherwise.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:20 PM on February 18, 2004


I am pointing out that noone involved in this situation beat their wife or girlfriend.

Well, you know that now, AFTER the investigation. It was said investigation that Dudley was trying to 'delay', as they say. Asking for an ID is part of EVERY investigation... as it should be. I just watched the video and I honestly can't believe that the Supreme Court is actually going to be wasting their time with this case. I also can't believe that these "victims" actually believe they have reason to be upset (for lack of a better word).

From the get-go, Dudley tried repeatedly to make the issue about his parking on the side of the road. When the officer made it clear that he was fine and wanted to see some ID because the cops were called to the scene, Dudley started ASKING (literally) to be cuffed and taken to jail. Later, Mimi gets all hysterical and charges out of the truck... etc., etc. I mean, what am I missing here?

Nobody is lumping (wherever you got that from).
posted by Witty at 1:29 PM on February 18, 2004


"He sounds like an uncooperative idiot"


Fair and far enough.

"with something to hide."

UhOh, too far.

Strangely enough I would agree with Witty, except for this, which appears to be the heart of the case. Under what circumstances are the police allowed to REQUIRE you to identify yourself? Is the failure to identify yourself an automatic charge of obstruction of justice (or failure to cooporate, whatever the hell that's supposed to mean)? Are you incriminating yourself by doing so? Is that a violation of your 5th amendment rights? All significant issues that will (should) be touched on by the Supreme Court, whether this is a perfect test case or not. Regardless of the legal impact of their ruling on this case, I would never agree that it should be right that you have to identify yourself to authorities just because someone else thinks you "have something to hide".
posted by Wulfgar! at 1:30 PM on February 18, 2004


The witness said that he saw "a man with a black cowboy hat" who "slugged the female". Dove was there to investigate the report.

Dudley's hat is white...[erases sarcastic remark about the his name]
posted by thomcatspike at 1:48 PM on February 18, 2004


I think there's a question as to whether or not it should be a crime to fail to identify yourself, as opposed to simply being "detained". I think it's fair to detain someone until it has been determined whether a crime has been committed, but I don't think failure to identify oneself should itself be a crime. In my world, here's how it would work.

1. Possible crime (let's say, assault) has been reported.
2. Cops ask suspect to identify him/herself.
3. Suspect refuses.
4. Cops take suspect down town.

If it is determined that the assault occurred:
5. suspect has to identify him/herself or face obstruction charges.

If not:
5. Detainee (no longer a suspect) is released without having identified him/herself.

IANAL, so I don't know if that's how the courts see it, but that's my view.
posted by jpoulos at 1:50 PM on February 18, 2004


It was always my understanding that in the U.S. you had to carry ID (if you were over 18) on you or be able to provide it if asked by a police officer. Until I saw this article, I believed that. I'll be interested to see how this pans out.

I have two questions about what happened in the video:

1) When one cop kept the truck door closed to prevent Mimi from coming out, why didn't she just go through the driver's side door?

2) If any of you had been in her shoes, would you have been screaming frantically when your dad got handcuffed? Wouldn't a reasonable person try to be calm and find out what was going on instead of screaming hysterically? Or is she just a chip off the old block? They see police and start antagonizing them instead of complying.
posted by Spencerinc at 1:52 PM on February 18, 2004


It is my opinion that the man had something to hide, yes... based solely on his ridiculous and exagerrated behavior. "Take me to jail, take me to jail" reeks of a problem with something, somewhere. But that aside, the cop was investigating a possible violent crime. Asking for an ID from all parties involved is perfectly reasonable.

I would never agree that it should be right that you have to identify yourself to authorities just because someone else thinks you "have something to hide".

I don't either, to a point. But if the actions of a person cause a cop to believe that there may be something else going on that he/she is obligated to explore futher, then in my opinion, we've gone from a case of a simple 'hunch' to an investigation. And as I said earlier, getting proper IDs of the people involved is a reasonable and logical step.

Dudley's hat is white...

Which is why eyewitness testimony is tossed out of court rather frequently. Due to shadows and poor lighting, his hat looked black much of the time. But good detective work there thomcatspike. ;)

I think there's a question as to whether or not it should be a crime to fail to identify yourself, as opposed to simply being "detained".

Yes - crime. It should be a finable offense, a citation, or a ticket, or whatever. Delaying an investigation by refusing to identify yourself, to me, is just shy of fleeing the scene or evading arrest. It causes unnecessary increases in time and resources, which in the end, equal money. $250 bucks seems reasonable.
posted by Witty at 1:54 PM on February 18, 2004


finable = fine-able
posted by Witty at 1:55 PM on February 18, 2004


The broader situation here exists outside of the particulars of this case. Though Winnemucca has a lower crime rate than the rest of the country and the northwestern states as a group, it does have a police force that deals with a range of investigations on a daily basis.

Presently, a 4 day, 10 hour work schedule is being used in the Patrol Division. A Deputy Sheriff of Humboldt County receives a wide range of calls for service, from emergency to non-emergency, including traffic, traffic accidents, domestic violence, gang related incidents, narcotics, DUI violations, and public assists. -County Sheriff's Site

Take that to a larger scale, in a major metropolitan area where there is a constantly larger level of crimes being reported. If there's a crime reported on a major city block, do the police have the right to ask everyone living in that area for their IDs? Everyone on the street? Door to door?

IANAL, so I don't know if there's any measure of reasonable cause for requesting IDs. Certainly it seems that the onus is on the police to identify a risk situation and make arrests based upon their observations -- for example, if they witnessed the 17-year-old daughter with an injury.

According to the site and the video, though, the request for ID was the only route pursued by police. They did not rush to check to see if his daughter was injured. They did not even approach the daughter separately to discuss the situation -- they simply followed one vector in apparent frustration with Hiibel's refusal to produce ID.

Interestingly, I found British case law regarding this in my Googling. They hold that there is a "right of silence" that is afforded an individual and that though there is a social obligation to assist the police, there is no legal one.

It seems that if there were a legal obligation to bow to every request from a police officer, we would be in the equivalent of a police state.
posted by VulcanMike at 1:56 PM on February 18, 2004


Identity is a key piece in any investigation whether there is a charge levied or not. The first thing that police need to find out is who the people they are dealing with are. This is so that any further investigation deals strictly with the individual's guilt or innocence or other involvement. Failure to cooperate with a criminal investigation can include not providing this vital and primary piece of information. Dudley refused to assist officers. He could have simply said what was going on and things might have been over with, but instead he got combative and uncooperative and then downright insulting. It doesn't matter if the criminal investigation turns up nothing, you must still assist it in any way you can, so long as it does not tend to incriminate you.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:00 PM on February 18, 2004


To a certain extent the entire *point* of the United States is that we need protect ourselves from abuse from the government. That's what the Bill Of Rights is all about.

Now...... If that makes it harder for the cops etc to do their job, then tough shit. The rights of citizens trump the rights of police to get their jobs done. We made it that way by design. This isn't Russia, or China, or Britain. We value freedom and liberty here. That's the point.

I hear an undertone here which doesn't seem to embrace that idea.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:02 PM on February 18, 2004


This is not a cause about "providing ID" in the "papers, please" sense. The Nevada law at issue requires only that a detained person "shall identify himself, but may not be compelled to answer any other inquiry of any peace officer." In other words, it requires you to say what your name is, but does not require you to show a driver's license, passport, or other ID to prove you are who you say you are.

Also, the police's ability to require you to answer the "who are you" question is conditioned on the presence of "circumstances which reasonably indicate that the person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime." If those circumstances exist, the police have the right to arrest you. Asking you your name isn't so much more of an intrusion.

I recommend reading the Nevada Supreme Court's opinion for more details.
posted by profwhat at 2:04 PM on February 18, 2004


Nobody is lumping (wherever you got that from).

...except Pollomacho, who made a comment that Witty, probably having something in his/her eye, just couldn't see...

...when they've been called on you because you beat the crap out of your wife/girlfriend.

...which sure sounds like "lumping", kind of like what the police routinely do in these situations.

Wow, an American citizen chose to dare remain silent when questioned by police? Guess that Miranda stuff is just for show, eh? After all, the Bill of Rights are just words on a paper.

Here is additional information on how this case found its way to SOTUS:

In a strongly worded dissenting opinion, three Nevada Supreme Court Justices disagreed that the government seizure in this case was reasonable. The dissent first noted that anonymity is included in the right to privacy, which in turn is protected during pre-arrest frisks performed by officers. In such situations, the dissent argued, "[i]t is well known that . . . an officer's authority to search is limited to a pat-down to detect weapons. The officer may investigate a hard object because it might be a gun. An officer may not investigate a soft object he detects, even though it might be drugs. Similarly, an officer may not detect a wallet and remove it for search. With today's majority decision, the officer can now, figuratively, reach in, grab the wallet and pull out the detainee's identification." The dissent then pointed out that the Ninth Circuit federal appeals court not only upholds the right to refuse to provide identification to an officer before arrest, but has specifically found Nev. Rev. Stat. § 171.123(3) unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. The dissent opinion criticized the majority for "reflexively reasoning that the public interest in police safety outweighs Hiibel's interest in refusing to identify himself," noting that no evidence exists that an officer is safer for knowing a person's identity. "What the majority fails to recognize," the dissenting opinion continued, "is that it is the observable conduct, not the identity, of a person, upon which an officer must legally rely when investigating crimes and enforcing the law."

Instead of speculating about "wife beaters" and "something to hide" and so forth, here is a page that details some of the issues. It's hardly a simpleminded issue of "I think someone is hiding something, so that justifies the police doing whatever they want."

The issue is particularly relevant in a nation where abuse by police is rampant.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 2:07 PM on February 18, 2004


Delaying an investigation by refusing to identify yourself, to me, is just shy of fleeing the scene or evading arrest. It causes unnecessary increases in time and resources, which in the end, equal money.

What's at stake here doesn't appear to be money or resources or investigation or hunches. The Supreme court is hearing this case because questions have arisen regarding our right to not implicate ourselves in the commision of a crime. Remove the circumstances (the guy is a jackass, etc.), and you're still left with a question: when does what is "reasonable" constitute the violation of a Constitutional right?

For what its worth, Witty, I don't think you're arguing that only those people who aren't behaving poorly should have rights. But it does play out that way if suspension of rights boils down to subjective suspicion of criminal involvement. That's reason number one that I loath the Patriot act, and why I'll be very interested to hear the SCOTUS ruling in this case.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:10 PM on February 18, 2004


It was always my understanding that in the U.S. you had to carry ID
"Don't mess with Texas", iirc after being in the state 5 days, you must have TX ID by law even if visiting (from the cop who wrote me a ticket my fist day in the state). Then you throw in the Texans whom are "Republic of Texas" and thier ID issues, it becomes a big mess here.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:17 PM on February 18, 2004


...except Pollomacho, who made a comment that Witty, probably having something in his/her eye, just couldn't see...

You're damn right I am, all that Dove knew when he got the call was that a witness saw a man punch a woman. I want cops to help people in distress, I would think that most people do too. In Dove's mind it doesn't matter that it was the guy's wife or daughter, all he needs to do is get to the scene and separate the individuals, find out who they are and then what the heck happened, which is pretty much what the video shows him trying to do. It can also be argued that Dove had reason to believe that Hibel had committed a moving violation (the skid marks, his possible intoxication), which would be further grounds for needing to see his driver's license. Still this is far, far different than Hibel's account that he was "minding his business"
posted by Pollomacho at 2:23 PM on February 18, 2004


...which sure sounds like "lumping", kind of like what the police routinely do in these situations.

Two lumps don't make a right.

But it does play out that way if suspension of rights boils down to subjective suspicion of criminal involvement.

But isn't that what we pay cops to do, at least partly... to use techniques and learned skills to recognize a potential criminal situation? A "seasoned veteren" has see it all, so to speak. I expect him or her to use those instincts that have been learned and honed over the course the officer's career to make wise decisions of when to investigate and when not to. Regardless, the suspicion of a crime in this situation was made when the call came over the radio. If I was the officer, I would have become especially concerned when Dudley continued to push the parking angle when it was made clear to him that that wasn't the issue. When Dudley tried to walk away did help his cause either. It just got worse from there.

Of course I don't believe a cop should be able to just pull you over, stop you on the street, walk up to you in Wal-Mart and ask you for ID without reason. But I was pulled over in college once for "matching the description". That was it. Otherwise, I was just driving through the neighborhood from my apartment to a friend's. I committed no crime. Would have it been reasonable for me to say, "No, I will not give you my ID because you have the wrong guy. I'm not the droid you're looking for". Should I have expected them to just say, "ok cool" and let me go?
posted by Witty at 2:32 PM on February 18, 2004


"Don't mess with Texas", iirc after being in the state 5 days, you must have TX ID by law even if visiting

Its actually 30 days, and thats if you're a resident. If you're a resident (NOT a college student with an out-of-state license/ID) and don't have a Texas driver's license after 30 days, you can be ticketed for "no license" if stopped while driving.
posted by mrbill at 3:34 PM on February 18, 2004


I rarely carry ID when walking around. Maybe I'll be the test case. I've always been told you are not required to carry ID unless you are driving. I've been asked for my ID many a time when i didn't have it on me. I've never had a problem.

Thanks fold&manipulate!

In case anyone cares, which it seems obvious the answer is no, I was referring specifically to the first comment of the Macho Chicken. This person made a completely wrong comment. I called em on it. Of course it's after the investigation. Just as the macho chickens comment came after the investigation. So what.
posted by filchyboy at 3:44 PM on February 18, 2004


Its actually 30 days, and thats if you're a resident.
Not arguing with you but more than one Dallas area cop told me that. Then again, they told me this while letting me off for some minor violations.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:55 PM on February 18, 2004


Well, I never thought I'd live to see the day, but I'm agreeing with foldy here. Did anyone actually read the briefs before spouting off? The point is that there was no probable cause, legally. You can argue that the cop thought something was going on, etc., but because we live in a non-police-state (or pretend to) what the cop thinks doesn't matter; there are rules as to what constitutes probable cause and the cop didn't have it (nor is he claiming he did). The case here is that Nevada law doesn't require probable cause to see ID, leaving it entirely at the discretion of the enforcer. Do you trust the cops not to abuse this? Having been arrested, detained, questioned at length, and told to leave town and not come back, all without being allowed (and I damned well requested) to make a phone call, talk to an attorney, or know what the charges were against me, I sure as fuck don't.

If this is allowed to stand, it will allow the police to legally require the ID of anyone they want — anti-war protesters, "suspicious characters," people who piss them off. And I personally don't want my name going into somebody's file as a troublemaker unless I've done something that they can actually arrest me for.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 4:13 PM on February 18, 2004


I don't usually carry ID on me either, but haven't had problems. AFAIK, we're one of the only countries on earth that doesn't have some form of national id card or form. (us and Britain is what i've heard)

and what IshmaelGraves said.
posted by amberglow at 4:40 PM on February 18, 2004


Ummm, amberglow. Australians & New Zealanders don't have national id cards either. The Australian govt floated the idea years ago but it died very very quickly. As a cartoonist put it "I already have an identity, I don't need a card."

I'd also be surprised if Canadians have ID cards. Any loonies out there to confirm that?

All 3 of these countries (& I lived or visited all of them) feel a lot freer than the USA. But I am living near Washington DC about a mile from the CIA HQ, which is probably about as paranoid an area as this country gets, so it may not be a fair comparison.
posted by ozjohn at 6:03 PM on February 18, 2004


I am absolutely astounded at the ignorance about civil rights and willingness to surrender to police intimidation. But in these times of the Patriot Act, "terraism", orange alerts, and John Ashcroft I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

This summary from the ACLU may be enlightening. In fact they will send it to you on a wallet size card free for the asking.

You are not required to answer any questions from a police officer. You are not required to provide any ID or carry any ID unless you are driving a car. You are not required to identify yourself, even if there is an "investigation" in progress. You aren't required to say anything at all. You may ask if you are under arrest and if not, you may just walk away. You are not obstructing justice unless you lie to the police or try to conceal evidence of a crime. You are not required to cooperate in any investigation. Those who believe that police can "take you downtown" for questioning have been watching too much crappy television. You do not have to go anywhere with the police unless under arrest. You cannot be arrested without reasonable belief that you have committed a crime.

That said, if asked, the prudent person would provide minimal information such as name and address in order to be polite and avoid confrontation. After all, unless there is a video, it is your word against the police and they are not unknown to testi-lie if necessary.
posted by JackFlash at 6:09 PM on February 18, 2004


Canada has no national ID card but the government has been making noises about setting one up. You know just for the citizens own safety...
posted by arse_hat at 6:10 PM on February 18, 2004


"I want to see your Identity Card!"

- The Pianist
posted by bwg at 6:56 PM on February 18, 2004


interesting thing about id cards all over.
posted by amberglow at 7:21 PM on February 18, 2004


JackFlash sez (quoting the ACLU), in part:
You may ask if you are under arrest and if not, you may just walk away.

Not quite; there exists a sort of intermediate state called "investigative detention." You're not under arrest, but neither are you free to leave while an investigation is in progress (after which you're either under arrest or free to go). The standard for investigative detention is "reasonable suspicion," essentially one step down from "probable cause," the standard needed for arrest.

Witty sez:
Of course I don't believe a cop should be able to just pull you over, stop you on the street, walk up to you in Wal-Mart and ask you for ID without reason.

In Washington state at least, the police can only require you to provide ID under specific circumstances, typically that you've committed a crime or infraction (most moving violations in WA are infractions, not actual crimes; the distinction is that you can go to jail for crimes). This creates a few curious situations; e.g., if a passenger in a vehicle (16 years of age or older) isn't wearing a seatbelt, the police can stop the vehicle and require ID from that passenger, but not necessarily from the driver.

But I was pulled over in college once for "matching the description". That was it. Otherwise, I was just driving through the neighborhood from my apartment to a friend's. I committed no crime.

I'm not seeing the problem here; you matched a description, the police made contact, determined you weren't the droid they were looking for, and cut you loose. Is there more to it than that? If they have reasonable suspicion that you've committed some crime (e.g., you match the description of somebody with an active warrant), then most likely they're justified in hanging on to you until they determine your identity.
posted by doorsnake at 7:55 PM on February 18, 2004


Wulfgar - But it does play out that way if suspension of rights boils down to subjective suspicion of criminal involvement.

Witty - But isn't that what we pay cops to do, at least partly... to use techniques and learned skills to recognize a potential criminal situation?


Just for the record, Witty, yes we do pay police to recognize potential criminal situations. That doesn't address at all what I said. Even if you are a suspect in a criminal situation your rights as defined by law and the Constitution are not, nor can be suspended; not by the will of any investigator or any judge. We do not have a blanket guarantee of privacy or freedom from investigation, but we do have a right to protect ourselves from implication or suspicion. Any law which states that you must cooperate with police to their satisfaction is in defiance of the 4th and 5th Amendments. It is my deepest hope that the SCOTUS finds that way as well. If not, then we are in some serious shit people.

And just for the anecdotal record, I was pulled over on my way to work one night and found myself staring down the barrels of 3 drawn handguns, all because my car matched the description of a violent offender the police were searching for. At no point did the police ask for my ID, or detain me longer than necessary for them to establish that I wasn't their perp. And they sure as hell didn't expect me to prove that I wasn't the guy they were looking for. I'd say that's fair enough.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:17 PM on February 18, 2004


doorsnake - I agree with you. I think the cops handled it the way they should have (speaking of my anecdote in the earlier post). I was trying to make the point that my story wasn't much different from the story in the FPP. Therefore, I think that it is/was perfectly reasonable to ask for ID in both situations.

...and willingness to surrender to police intimidation.

Not everyone sees it that way Jack. You call it intimidation -I call it cops doing their job. What you call surrendering, I call cooperation. A SMART person would have just given the officer some ID when he was politely asked.

Aside from the few moving violations I've had in my life, I've never committed a crime. I've never had anything to worry about as far as cops are concerned. When I have had to deal with the police, I've ALWAYS found it best to cooperate and do my part as a citizen to make the situation as pleasant and safe and truthful as possible.

When I get pulled over at night, I always turn on my interior lights and have (once or twice) even dangled my hands outside of the driver's window. I don't these things in hopes of avoiding harrassment or becuase I have anything to be worried about. I do so because I respect the officer before he even gets out of his car. I respect his/her job, his duty, his committment, his training, his responsibility, his courage and his professionalism.

I don't doubt that there are exceptions to the description above. But the vast majority of officers out there, just want to do the right thing. They're people too.
posted by Witty at 8:43 AM on February 20, 2004


Therefore, I think that it is/was perfectly reasonable to ask for ID in both situations.

Cops are always free to ask you for anything. You shouldn't be required to give it to them. In your case you didn't mind being noted in the officers notebook as having been pulled over at that place and time. Others, myself included, may not want those records of their movements kept. I don't use credit/debit cards; I don't use the auto bill me lanes on toll highways; and I sure as heck don't want my movements tracked in police records unless I've committed a crime.

arse_hat: Canada has no national ID card but the government has been making noises about setting one up. You know just for the citizens own safety...

Luckily identification is a provincial resposibility. It seems unlikely to esculate higher in the mid-future; especially in light of the firearm registration fiasco.
posted by Mitheral at 9:52 AM on February 20, 2004


Cops do abuse id, even if they don't have to ask you for it. In the 80's I used to work daily at a Fotomat kiosk (remember those)? There was a policeman who's regular beat was in that neighborhood and would often stop to chat with me, and later started flirting, even though he knew I was married. There I was, stuck in a little glass booth - and I couldn't exactly pretend I wasn't there when he came around.

I made the mistake of joking once (in the face of some inuendo about tracking me down) that he didn't even know my name. My mistake. He'd seen my car parked near the booth regularly enough that he knew which one it was, and right there in front of me he called in on the license and got my name and address...

I quit not long after that. It was a nice comfortable min wage job until the cops started hanging around. It's like a quote from the movie "Nuts" where she tells the doc that the basis of her anger at him is that the only difference between him and any other a**hole is that he is an a** with the power to put her away. Also... uh... I heard a conversation once where a police officer was "investigating" stuff about his ex-wife, and was getting her current utility bills and such.

Not all cops are nice. There's an awful lot of people attracted to the job because of the power. If they didn't want power to stop the bad guys, they wouldn't want to be one. But it doesn't always stop at "real" bad guys - sometimes it extends to anyone they are mad at or have some kind of beef against. Sometimes they can get obsessed with certain types of females. They are, after all, only humans, not robots - and need rules about what is and is not okay. And those rules need to be strictly followed. Calling id on a girl just to get her address because you're interested in her is definitely NOT okay: it's an abuse of priviledge. Granted, that's not the case here - but if *ANY* of us can be compelled to show id without probably cause, then *ALL* of us can be.

And these days, not all guys who pretend to be the police really are.
posted by Timebot at 4:27 PM on February 20, 2004


IANAL, but I've had this discussion with one and I'm not up for reading any more backseat legal speculating, so I'll just point you all to Kolender vs. Lawson. The SCOTUS majority opinion shot down an ID producing law because of vagueness, but I have trouble imagining an ID law that was practical (people lose and forget ID all the time), non-discriminatory (non-drivers might not even have ID), and still not vague.

In America, you do not have to carry, let alone show or own ID, unless you are driving or in a bar. If any states still have laws on the books that require you to produce ID for no good reason, I seriously doubt they'll stand much of a Constitutional test.

Cooperating with cops is an entirely different matter. Most states have laws that vaguely prohibit disobeying an officer. The order must be a "lawful" order , but you'd be damned surprised what passes for a lawful order these days. In Portland, "Get back on the sidewalk" is a lawful order, as is "you're blocking the sidewalk, get off the sidewalk." I've been stung by both commands. The police state exists and anybody paying attention to the types of stuff that's been posted here recently has a pretty good idea of how easy it is for authoritarians to use vague laws to corner free expression and other guaranteed freedoms by selective employment of these laws.

In the meantime, though, the cops are inconvenienced by the fact that they have to learn the law well enough to figure out what to charge you with, since they actually can't just write "he called me a fascist," on their citation sheet and the bad cops are usually not particularly law savvy.
posted by Skwirl at 7:22 AM on February 23, 2004


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