The Next You Need a Cop, Call a Hippie! Panhandler!


Via reader Russ Dewey comes this To the People bit about how Washington State troopers are making it that much easier to hate the fuzz with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns:

Washington State troopers have been posing as panhandlers (who skirt entrapment laws by allegedly neither asking for nor accepting money) in order to sidle up to the cars of unsuspecting motorists as part of an elaborate scheme to spy whether the operator is wearing a seatbelt. Those who aren't are then busted by another cop radioed by the "panhandler"—who sometimes holds a "happy holidays" sign—and given a ticket for $101 or worse. Some of the ticketed motorists have been so kind as to offer the "panhandler" money (which the officer—again allegedly—rejects).

More here.

I can already anticipate the conservative backlash to this policy: Why are those motherfuckin' cops holding Happy Holidays signs rather than Merry Christmas signs? Can't you just hear Catholic League capo Bill Donoghue shouting, "This clearly demonstrates that the Bush administration cops have suffered a loss of will and that they have capitulated to the worst elements in our culture."

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  1. I almost moved up there earlier this year. Looks like I dodged a bullet. Or a bum, anyway.

  2. I can already anticipate the conservative backlash to this policy:Why are those motherfuckin’ cops holding Happy Holidays” signs….

    Nick you funny guy.

  3. Sometimes it becomes really hard to read the news posted on this site. At the moment, I’m a bit overloaded with the ridiculous and unfair things that go on in this country. Yipes.

  4. Between this, and hiring cops to pretend to be high-school students and convince unpopular kids to try drugs so they can arrest them, we will soon reach a point where, thanks to law enforcement, everybody will be suspicious of everybody else!

  5. Two words: Bum Fights!

    Seriously, I would gather some friends, take up bats and rakes, and roam the streets looking for homeless.
    “Hey fellers, this here hobo’s tryin’ to tell me he’s a cop!”

  6. But Jeff P.: you’d give the word “mob” a bad name!!!

  7. Yet another reason to hate both cops AND bums. As a person who never opens his window for bums, never gives bums money, and always ignores bums, this wouldn’t affect me any, but damn those pigs for being such right bastards. I hope they get AIDS. And cancer.

  8. I can’t wait to see what Evan has to say (read: rant) on this topic.

    I totally agree with linguist. I was just commenting to someone the other day about how I can only read the news on this site when I feel I can handle the worst…and sometimes even when I can’t. This site totally brings me down.

    Yet I love being depressed! I must — I keep coming back to H&R for more. ‘Tis the way of the world.

    This really is an abusive blog, isn’t it?…

  9. we will soon reach a point where, thanks to law enforcement, everybody will be suspicious of everybody else!

    Ha! Too late. At least for the paranoid among us. Like myself; for this will not affect much the lives of those who are paranoid.

  10. Say, maybe the cops are on to something here. If cops become indistinguishable from regular citizens, then we could all be cops. So, if things progress to the point where we don’t have individual liberty, at least all of us can be equally oppressive. It would also solve the Second Amendment debate (we’d all be carrying our cop guns) and would eliminate the need for speeding and some other laws. Furthermore, we’d all be able to supplement our salaries with some “extra” income. Hmmmm.

  11. Oh, this reminds me:

    To everyone who makes fun of the Tinfoil Hat wearers,

    Give me back my damn hat! Now shush and go away.

    [arranges tinfoil hat briskly atop head]



  12. An (unlikely?) scenario: you get filled full of the Christmas spirit and decide to give a bum a buck. But your cash is in your wallet which happens to be in your back pocket. You take off your seatbelt to grab the money, pull up and offer the bum money (who refuses it?). Bam, you get a $101 ticket.

    Congratulations, you’re being penalized for being nice.

  13. I was just commenting to someone the other day about how I can only read the news on this site when I feel I can handle the worst…and sometimes even when I can’t. This site totally brings me down.

    Happy Holidays!

  14. Congratulations, you’re being penalized for being nice.

    That’ll learn ya.

  15. Want to instantly make law enforcement several times more efficient than it is today? I mean, efficient at preventing real crimes? Get rid of fines. No more profit center on the streets, no more coming up with sneaky ways of taking our money (e.g., redlight cameras, fake bums, etc.). Simple, no? There are other ways to punish wrongdoers besides fines, after all.

    Oh, and end the war on drugs. Then maybe someone can catch the guys who stole my car a few years ago instead of busting some glue-sniffer.

  16. smacky-

    i’m using the tinfoil for making cupcakes.

    oh yes. cupcakes.

    (whisper whisper)

    no. not now, noam. i’m busy.

    ‘cuse me.

  17. Clickit or Hitler.

    Are those tears of sorrow or of mirth falling from my eyes? I can’t tell.

  18. hey as a washitonian i take offence..we welcome all forms of worship and….what the hell my state sucks ass.

    but i do have a good story about drinking at gas works park after midnight and all the cops made us do is pour out our open cantainers (we got to keep the beer in our back packs) and made us leave the park…they could have been real dicks.

  19. I’m glad Washington is such a crime-free utopia that the cops have nothing better to do than hand out tickets for seatbelts.

  20. My thought too, AC. And they might need a little extra for the Christmas bash.

  21. I wish the state and local governments would just stop lying and be open about how they view their law enforcement people and just have cops radomly pull people over, pull out their guns, and just take whatever is in the driver and passenger’s wallet. It would be a minor inconvienence but at least it would show what the state’s view their police as being there for.

  22. So what happens when the paranoid who’s being approached by the bum decides he’s just too freaky and maces him? Is it assaulting an officer or just plain old assault?

  23. Maybe they ran out of uniforms.

  24. Mad: it will get him killed. Remember the unfortunate fellow who was being harassed by an undercover cop on a New York City streetcorner? Cop kept asking him where he could score some drugs, looking for a bullshit “steering” bust. Kept coming back and begging him for a hookup until the good citizen threatened to hurt him. Whereupon the cop shot his black ass. Shot him dead for REFUSING to sell him drugs.

  25. I think the best part of the story is the guy who got pissed and threw a half-full cup of soda at the cop who pulled him over. They hit him with a $1050 littering fine.


  26. Next time I am in Washington state I am going to be sure to hurl obsenity laden abuse at any panhandler I see on the highway. I apoligze upfront to any legitimate bums out there I may offend.

  27. Pro Libertate

    I’ve been thinking of the same thing. Let’s force them to show the real reason for speeding laws. Why not a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 month in state prison for a speeding violation? If it’s the law then the lawbreakers must go to jail. I can nearly guarantee that speeding violations will drop to nil almost overnight, our court system will be crowded with outraged speeding ‘perps’ and the municipal and state governments will be scrambling to explain the sudden and catastrophic loss in revenue.

    ‘Course there will be ice-hockey in Hell before that happens. Fines make money, prison stays cost money . . .

  28. Not only are “we” paying armed terrorists to terrorize disarmed people (re Alpizar), now “we” are paying bums to panhandle and harass people.


    FWIW, I undo my seatbelt whenever I see one of those “Click it or ticket” threats.

  29. If the disguised cops were checking for drunk or drinking drivers, would you still have a problem with it?

    If not, your problem is with the seat belt law itself, not with the enforcement techniques.

  30. Brother, can you spare a dime?

    Well then, how about $101?

    These cops merit the epithet of Pigs, right along with drug task force pigs and undercover whore pigs. (The female cops who solicit sex and then bust the client).

  31. “If the disguised cops were checking for drunk or drinking drivers, would you still have a problem with it?”

    I? Yup. The War on Drivers Who Had a Beer After Work is already worse than the disease. Besides, there’s never a good reason to inflict undercover cops on the general public, and plenty of reasons not to….unless you’re into police states.

  32. “How was I supposed to know he was a cop? I run over the bums on this street fairly regularly, and no one’s ever cared before!”

    – Josh

  33. Mr F Le Mur,

    Uh, so you think that you should be free to break any laws as long as no uniformed police officers are present? Once again, a police state is defined by its laws, not by the enforcement of those laws.

    Heh, one danger to those who trade in reductio ad absurdum is that there are those who believe the absurd. I’ll be more careful next time.

  34. This just proves that there are too many cops on the payroll.

  35. crimethink;

    “If the disguised cops were checking for drunk or drinking drivers, would you still have a problem with it?”

    When I ran for Colorado House of Representatives (2000), one of my campaign planks was the elimination of the sobriety checkpoints. People should be pulled over for demonstrating unsafe driving, whether drunk, stoned or whatever, not because of alcohol breath.

  36. cliff,

    That’s it, wait till the drunk driver is weaving all over the road to pull them over. Better yet, just wait till they hit someone, since mere careless driving doesn’t harm anyone.

    Were the roads privately owned, any sane owner would have sobriety checkpoints all over the place out of liability concerns. However, since the roads are publicly owned, the govt has to act as a reasonable owner would, to prevent accidents before they happen.

  37. So how much jay-walking are these cops doing to get close enough to cars to see if the drivers aren’t wearing seatbelts?

    Maybe the city cops should start investigating the jay-walking thing the state cops are doing.

  38. “Once again, a police state is defined by its laws, not by the enforcement of those laws.”

    No, a police state is defined by the actions of its cops. If there were a place with a lot of dumb laws but no cops could it be a police state? Of course not.

    Now, if there were a place with no dumb laws but a bunch of corrupt, unaccountable cops, could that be a police state? I think most would say so

    The US is a country with both dumb laws and corrupt, unaccountable laws. Maybe we should just change the name to the United States of Put Your Hands Up, Get Down on the Ground and Give Us All your Fucking Money!

  39. “C’mon, buddy, spare some change for a cash-strapped police department? We just need some money to tide us over for this budget cycle, . . . Come on, I won’t spend it on booze or satirical videos.”

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