Wednesday, January 03, 2007


If a police officer stops you and asks where you're going, do you have a right to say, politely, "It's none of your business"?

Apparently not, at least in St. Louis. Brett Darrow, 19, was detained as a drunken-driving checkpoint because he declined to tell an officer where he was going. Darrow's answer: "I don't wish to discuss my personal life with you, officer."

That was enough to get Darrow ordered out of his car and detained for about 12 minutes. According to this write-up in the, billed as "a journal of the politics of driving," Darrow videotaped the encounter, and has a transcript of the stop:
Darrow is considering filing suit against St. Louis County Police.

"I'm scared to drive for fear of being stopped at another checkpoint and arrested while doing nothing illegal," Darrow told TheNewspaper. "We're now guilty until we prove ourselves innocent to these checkpoint officers."

On that late November night, videotape confirms that Darrow had been ordered out of his vehicle after telling a policeman, "I don't wish to discuss my personal life with you, officer." Another officer attempted to move Darrow's car until he realized, "I can't drive stick!" The officer took the opportunity to undertake a thorough search of the interior without probable cause. He found nothing.

When Darrow asked why he was being detained, an officer explained, "If you don't stop running your mouth, we're going to find a reason to lock you up tonight."

The threats ended when Darrow informed officers that they were being recorded. After speaking to a supervisor Darrow was finally released.
Was Darrow being a smart-ass? Probably. Did he make the cops feel uncomfortable, even angry? Probably. Are we living in a free country? With stories like this, that's up for debate.


Anonymous said...

Look, this isn't some global indicator of the state of the country. Law enforcement officers have a tough job, and they are notoriously underpaid and underfunded. They are trying to protect the public. Answer the damn questions and be on your way. 'Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Maybe so, anon 8:23, but if the courts would set the record straight and ban the damn checkpoints because they're unconstitutional, the young man wouldn't have been questioned. 'Nuff said?

Anonymous said...

The Germans and Russians love checkpoints. I'm so glad we have followed their lead.

Anonymous said...

Papers? Papers? Are your papers in order?

Busplunge said...

So, this evening my wife and I are driving north on Kansas Expressway. 3 rear enders in two blocks by walnut street.
We are behind a late model big Chevrolet, like a taxi or police car.
I look at the plate and tell my wife the plate looks altered, like the year sticker has been scratched off.
As we pass the car, I see the back has been painted white with rattle can and front was black.
If I was a cop, would I have stopped that car? Probably.
BUT there would have been a reason.
I watch COPS enough to know that cops sometimes have a terrible job to do and sometimes they don't.
I agree with your last paragraph.
But I read the stories about forced castration.