Police

Man Busts Cop for Patrolling in Unmarked Car (You'll Never Believe What Happens Next…)

|

Here's a fun little tale from "liberty activist" Gav Seim. Seim lives in Washington state, where it's illegal for cops to drive unmarked vehicles unless these vehicles are specially designated for "undercover or confidential investigative purposes." This means that officers can't just cruise around in unmarked cars pulling people over for petty offenses. 

This law makes sense, writes Seim, because "unmarked vehicles are a ripe opportunity for confusion in a citizens reaction and for criminals to impersonate lawful authority" for nefarious purposes. And the Washington courts take the law seriously: One resident had a felony charge of eluding police thrown out because the vehicle pursuing him was unmarked, and others have had traffic infractions invalidated for the same reason. 

On October 11, however, Seim noticed a cop driving an unmarked car in Grant County, Washington—so Seim flagged the officer over and asked if he had been pulling people over in the vehicle. Deputy Dustin Canfield said indeed, he had. Seim then informed him that he was in violation of state law and asked to see the officer's ID.

"Mr. Seim, I'm not gonna play the game with you," says Deputy Canfield. "This isn't a game; it's called law," Seim retorts. And eventually the cop gives in and produces his license! Canfield  also seems genuinely interested (and unaware) as Siem explains the unmarked car law. Watch an unedited version of the encounter here or Siem's edited version below:

With the kind of cop footage we're used to seeing lately, it's almost astonishing that went as well as it did. Had another officer been involved, or especially if Seim was a bit less fair-skinned, it's easy to imagine that encounter turning out differently.

But "Deputy Canfield handled this well," wrote Seim after the incident. "I want officers to treat people with respect and I in turn do the same. Disrespectful public servants should never be tolerated, respectful ones should be commended." So cheers, Deputy Canfield! You were illegally pulling people over in an unmarked car for who knows how long, but you didn't physically harm or arrest someone for pointing it out—well played. (No wonder Canfield was the Grant County Sheriff's Office's April Employee of the Month.) I think this counts as a heartwarming police story. 

NEXT: Watch: Obama's Taylor Swift Strategy–Shake It Off (Remy Remix)

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. It always amazes me how so many cops are ignorant of the law, yet almost no one even bats an eye over it. I mean, if your doctor was ignorant of medicine, you’d have a problem with that, right? But a cop ignorant of the law? Most people just shrug.

    1. I’m just shocked that story didn’t end with a shooting or a beating.

    2. So what does this make the new Bluesmobile?

      1. Fix the lighter.

        1. This changes my entire conception of that film, the greatest musical in history. The Blues were cops all along.

          1. No, ma’am. They’re musicians.

            1. And, it turns out, they were on a mission from Zod. Lex Luther was the Penguin. So much now is clear to me.

              1. Sorry, Luthor. Today has been a bad day for me, typographically speaking.

                1. An evildoer named Luther? Never!

                  1. VERY well played!

                    1. Citizen busting cop? Dollars to donuts, he’s a gonna be on the no-fly list tommorroweeooo…. Do NOT be fuckin’ w/The King’s Men!!!

    3. hell, this wasn’t just one cop ignorant of the law. He was deliberately put on that patrol in that unmarked car. Which means more than one person was involved and aware and it likely happened/happens over and over. That’s the part that troubles me the most. This wasn’t a ‘whoops, my bad’, this was straight-up willful

      1. “All public vehicles including police cars must be marked on the sides with identifying lettering or logo. ?RCW 46.08.065. ? Undercover sheriff’s office and police vehicles are exempt from this requirement. ?RCW 46.08.065(1).
        ?All emergency vehicles, not just police cars, are equipped with and may display emergency lights and siren. ?RCW 46.37.190(4); ?RCW 46.37.380(2); ?WAC 204-88-030(1); ?WAC 204-88-060(1). ? Only law enforcement vehicles may display blue lights. ?WAC 204-88-060(2). ? When any emergency vehicle displays emergency signals, drivers must yield and stop. ? RCW 46.37.190(5); ?RCW 46.61.210. ? However, violation of RCW 46.61.210 is a civil infraction, not a criminal offense.”

        1. Noted, and yet Dep Canfield was totally unaware of any of this ‘technicality’ thereby casting an air of negligence over the whole thing. Consider me unswayed.

          1. He’s probably new, it was almost surely a higher-up who ordered him out on patrol in the unmarked car. A higher-up who did know the law, and just didn’t care.

    4. Actually most doctors are ignorant of whatever they are not specializing in (sure they go through residency, but after a few years those skills greatly diminish) – pretty much like every white collar profession. In this case the police officer should have known better – his apparent specialization being stopping people in an unmarked car.

    5. As many have pointed out, incentives matter. Law enforcement in general are not punished, and indeed are often rewarded for breaking the law. Also, only law enforcement can use ignorance of the law as a defense, so why bother even knowing the law? You can just say “Whups, I didn’t know. My bad” and all is forgiven.

  2. So, I guess they’ll just put a “Sheriff Dept” sign in 8 point type on the car, and they’ll be good to go, right?

    1. It was printed on his shirt.

    2. If the bit about judges taking the law seriously is true, then maybe not. It is state statute after all and not some hundred year old rule that no one understands like the 4th amendment.

      1. Righty-o.

        12-point type it is, then.

  3. Anybody who doesn’t think doctors are as ignorant of medicine as cop are of law doesn’t understand medicine, but this is yet another good example of how WA is better, setting aside the false implication about police recordings, which actually are doing a great job getting false complaints thrown out on a constant basis.

    BOOYA body cameras!!!!!!

    1. Except that, you know, Washington *isn’t* better.

      At least in the other states patrolling in an unmarked is just sleazy and deceptive – in Washington the cops just go ahead and flat out break their own laws and FYTW.

      And ‘the false implication about police recordings’? Are you even reading the article before responding?

      1. I’d say Washington is slightly better on this at least. They do have the law, which is good. And if judges are actually throwing out tickets because of it, that’s something. It would be better if the cops or departments who did it were punished in some way, but we all know how likely that is.

    2. Anybody who doesn’t think doctors are as ignorant of medicine as cop are of law doesn’t understand medicine

      Except that medical doctors are trained for at least four years and do residency in medicine. While they are not the omniscient miracle workers of the world, they (largely) are well trained.

      Cops are just brutes with badges and weapons.

      And you have outdone yourself in stupidity. I always you knew a bit about law. Clearly you know NOTHING about medicine.

      1. It’s funny that the guy who does a safety inspection on your car (in PA) has to get a certificate of updated training every five years, but a cop that can shoot or imprison you or a doctor that can cut you open or poison you never needs to do that.

        1. Wrong. Unless you’re grandfathered from decades ago you are required to pass board re-certification exams at regular intervals determined by your particular area of medicine. You’re also required to fulfill a certain amount of Continuing Medical Education (CME courses and conferences) every couple of years.

          1. Board recertification isn’t required for licensing though, is it? I think in most states you can practice even within a specialty without being board certified. I know (probably all) state licensing boards do require X number of CME hours though. Not that they make it terribly difficult to fulfill those requirements.

    3. How DARE you try to pull doctors into your hemisphere of SHIT?

      1. +1 Shit Hawks

  4. Did the deputy tear up all the citations he had issued prior to the civics lesson?

    1. I’m sure he didn’t. But it seems likely that anyone who bothers to take one of the citations to court will have it thrown out.

  5. Somebody shocked story doesn’t end in a shooting clearly ignorant of the statistics on police shootings which is of course typical of the reason bigot. American police are amazingly restrained tender use of force to include deadly force.

    1. Oh, he may be weary.
      Young cops they do get weary
      Hearing that same old legally dross, yeah, yeah.
      But when he gets weary,
      Try a little tender force, yeah, yeah.

    2. Der de derp derp bigorati gotta bigorate derp de derp

    3. “American police are amazingly restrained tender use of force to include deadly force.”

      What is this little piggy trying to say?

    4. tender use of force

      Nice band name.

      1. It’s not woolly. Nobody gets woolly. Women get weary. They don’t get woolly. Nobody gets “stress.” They’re wearing a “dress.” I hate people that get the words wrong.

        1. Apple Danish, apple Danish
          Rock me apple Danish

          1. I love you, Dr. Danish!

            1. ‘scuse me while
              I kiss this cop.

              1. Idiot!

                It’s

                “..’scuse me
                while I
                kiss this GUY…”

                1. Look, I know “Purple Taze.”

                  1. Oh, I missed an opportunity there. Let’s try again: “Perple Taze.”

                    1. “Derple Gaiz”

                    2. Well, there’s “Purple Gays,” which is about gay marriage.

                    3. That’s the one that says ‘kiss this guy’

    5. American police are amazingly restrained tender use of force to include deadly force.

      Wait, what?

      Indeed, the US police “justifiable homicide” figure looks more like the total murder count for most other developed societies. In Oz, the total number of murders per year is about 270, so a nation of 23 million would have to increase by 50 per cent to commit as many homicides as American law enforcement. In Canada, whose urban police departments have absorbed certain American practices, a dozen or so people get shot dead by cops each year, which is again somewhat short of the US rate. Indeed, that 2012 “justifiable homicide” figure of 410 compares to a total Canadian homicide count for 2011 of 598. In other words, in America 120,000 or so full-time law enforcement officers rack up the same number of homicides as about 24 million Canadians.

    6. Did you have a stroke dunphy? I’m serious. I don’t want to laugh at stroke victim.

  6. Man Busts Cop for Patrolling in Unmarked Car (You’ll Never Believe What Happens Next…)

    Yes, yes I will.

    1. And eventually the cop gives in and produces his license!

      Ok, you’re right, I didn’t.

      1. Was he disciplined by the government for his illegal activities, then? I mean, here it is, the confession.

  7. Makes me wonder if ol’ Deputy Canfield in fact knew that what he was doing was technically illegal, and simply DGAF before Gav approached him. Then once he quickly realized the jig was up in this case, he feigned ignorance.

    Some my call that being overly cynical, but I think it’s just the right amount of cynical for this situation.

    1. Cops are professional liars. They lie to get people to admit things, they lie to confuse people, they lie to get convictions, they lie on reports, they lie in court, they lie about everything. It’s their job. So yeah, I’m sure his ignorance was feigned.

      1. He honestly seems a bit amused by the whole thing; maybe he was just bored.

        1. It’s always funny when the little people squawk.

          1. They’re so cute when they think they have rights.

            1. Like little Oompa-Loompas.

              Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-do,
              I have a perfect puzzle for you.
              Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-dee,
              If you are wise, you’ll listen to me.
              What do you get when you patrol down streets?
              Bleating as much as a civilian bleats.
              What are you at sitting unbearably pat?
              What do you think will come of that?
              I don’t like the look of it.

        2. I’m sure he was. Because at any time he could have arrested the guy for interfering with police business, disorderly conduct, loitering, or some other catchall that allows cops to arrest anyone who annoys them. And if the guy resists then the cop gets to beat the crap out of him. Sure, the charges will be dropped the next day, but nothing will happen to the cop. So yeah, I’m sure he was quite amused.

        3. Maybe he realized that he has an excuse for an afternoon off, with pay.

      2. They are professional liars. But they are also often ignorant morons. So I’d say there is a good chance of it being at least a combination of factors.

      3. *Cops are professional liars.*

        Oddly enough, so are criminals.

        Battling with monsters must make one a monster.

        1. Not all criminals are professional liars. Some are people who just speed a little too much, or don’t mow their lawn on time, or decide to smoke a little weed in their free time.

          The vast majority of crime (which is non-violent) does not make one a monster.

  8. We’ve got the same rule in Ohio. I drove out to Colorado last summer with a friend who was outraged to see all the unmarked cars running radar in the states between here and there. He had assumed every state was like Ohio. I was surprised he’d never learned the hard way.

    1. I flew back. But on his return drive he also came across a fake late night “checkpoint” in Kansas that he later learned was set up to try to entrap drivers from Colorado who might be bringing pot over the state line. There was no checkpoint, just a big flashing sign saying one was ahead.
      The cops were actually waiting just off the exit ramp to catch those who would try to avoid the “checkpoint” by pulling off and driving around it. Fortunately my friend didn’t fall for it.

      1. Must suck to be someone who legitimately needs to get off at the exit they use for their little trap.

  9. *Looks around nervously, slowly takes hands away from nut punch protection position, breathes.*

  10. Good for the officer.

    /taps bum.

  11. “Had another officer been involved, or especially if Seim was a bit less fair-skinned, it’s easy to imagine that encounter turning out differently.”

    … am I on Reason or some liberal click-bait website?

    1. Come on. When Reason’s really clicking, it’s both.

  12. “Deputy Canfield handled this well,” wrote Seim after the incident. “I want officers to treat people with respect and I in turn do the same. Disrespectful public servants should never be tolerated, respectful ones should be commended.”

    All encounters with our men in blue should be polite, respectful, and avoided if at all possible. The polite cops merely provide cover for the sociopaths and extortionists.

  13. “If Seim was a bit less fair skinned”

    Fuck you Reason.

    1. That seems a bit strong. You read this whole thing what you get out of it is outrage at the suggestion that police might engage in some unfair racial profiling? It was probably an unnecessary comment here, but it isn’t terribly controversial to suggest that race often has something to do with how police encounters escalate.

      1. Please provide statistical evidence to back up your assertion.

        Fuck it, no need for statistics or evidence. You’ve made your assertion, and of its good enough for “Reason” it’s good enough for me.

      2. it isn’t terribly controversial to suggest that race often has something to do with how police encounters escalate.

        Depends who you ask and what data set you’re picking from. But that’s not really what happened here anyway, it was a totally out of context statement that this particular officer under this particular set of circumstances would have initiated a violent encounter if Mr. Seim had been darker skinned (and that any other officer would have initiated a violent encounter regardless). Not only is it impossible to prove the negative, but it’s also more than a little bit tacky to slime somebody as a racist without any evidence of such (even a cop, and even if he’s otherwise an asshole).

    2. While the race card is certainly overused many times in situations where it is irrelevant or nonsensical, nonetheless DWB is still a real thing. In some jurisdictions, merely being black is both automatic “probable cause” and justification for escalation.

      1. “In some jurisdictions, merely being black is both automatic “probable cause” and justification for escalation.” [citation needed]

        1. *see NYC stop and frisk, et al.

  14. ?”All public vehicles including police cars must be marked on the sides with identifying lettering or logo. ?RCW 46.08.065. ? Undercover sheriff’s office and police vehicles are exempt from this requirement. ?RCW 46.08.065(1).
    ?All emergency vehicles, not just police cars, are equipped with and may display emergency lights and siren. ?RCW 46.37.190(4); ?RCW 46.37.380(2); ?WAC 204-88-030(1); ?WAC 204-88-060(1). ? Only law enforcement vehicles may display blue lights. ?WAC 204-88-060(2). ? When any emergency vehicle displays emergency signals, drivers must yield and stop. ? RCW 46.37.190(5); ?RCW 46.61.210. ? However, violation of RCW 46.61.210 is a civil infraction, not a criminal offense.” ?

    “- See more at: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/wa-…..9hrWM.dpuf”

    The above is from the writer’s link to the charges being thrown out against an eluding driver. Of course, it was a technicality.
    I think Dep. Canfield did a good job (because he really didn’t know the provision of the WA law) and stayed calm during his interaction. However, the basis of Seim’s stance on this issue is wrong because of his lack of knowledge of the WA law (as noted above).
    What does appear to be true though is that you don’t have to stop your vehicle in WA if an unmarked police vehicle is trying to stop you. I think there are a # of other states with similar provisions.

    1. Good luck not stopping when an unmarked cop tries to pull you over. That’s when you get dead.

  15. I guess activists gonna activ..ate(?), but when he went into full lecture mode around 2:30 it seemed like spiking the ball. Once he got the confession, the ID and the “warning”, call it a win and that’s a wrap.

    1. Yeah, cops never lecture peons.

  16. I’m not defending agressive police behavior but I imagine that most cops probably get a little bitter and arrogant from dealing with crooks, scumbags, morons and smartasses on a daily basis.

    1. Yeah, but at the end of the day they can go home and get away from their co-workers.

    2. Off with you to the jobs fair then.

    3. In what profession will you not be dealing with crooks, scumbags, morons and smartasses on a daily basis? Have you ever worked in a service industry? Imagine what the people who work at McDonald’s have to deal with – and yet they don’t shoot anybody.

  17. I’ll never believe it, eh?

    DID HE USE ONE WEIRD TRICK TO MAKE MONEY WORKING FROM HOME LIKE HIS AUNT’S STEP-MOM’S COUSIN’S BOYFRIEND?

  18. “(You’ll Never Believe What Happens Next…)”

    NO! Just fucking NO! That shit is annoying enough on goddamned Facebook, fucking choke yourself!

  19. I wonder how old that statute is. I remember about 10 years ago when I was living in WA my local PD got a bunch of shiny new unmarked Ford Explorers, Mustangs, and later a Dodge Charger that they were proudly parading around the local news warning us plebs to watch our backs out on the road. And boy did they use them. Any given after-work commute it wasn’t unusual to see 4 or 5 people on the side of I90 with one of those vehicles parked behind them.

  20. Brilliant, albeit risky. Thanks for doing this. It’s the essential work of democracy.

  21. Had another officer been involved, or especially if Seim was a bit less fair-skinned, it’s easy to imagine that encounter turning out differently.

    Please spare us the unfounded insinuations of racism.

  22. My roomate’s aunt makes $71 /hour on the laptop . She has been out of a job for six months but last month her income was $12021 just working on the laptop for a few hours.
    You can try this out. ????? http://www.jobsfish.com

  23. Gav Seim needs to be arrested and charged with Unauthorized Practice of Law, Impersonating a Public Servant and add in Stupid in Public for good measure. Then return bhim to grade school so he can learn to read. The statute he so eloquently mangles specifically states, “This section shall not apply to vehicles of a sheriff’s office, local police department, or any vehicles used by local peace officers under public authority for special undercover or confidential investigative purposes.” For mind numbingly stupid people who THINK they can harass the police, that means POLICE VEHICLES ARE EXEMPT!!!

    1. I think you might be the one who needs to learn to read:

      “All public vehicles including police cars must be marked on the sides with identifying lettering or logo. ?RCW 46.08.065. ? Undercover sheriff’s office and police vehicles are exempt from this requirement. ?RCW 46.08.065(1). –

      http://caselaw.findlaw.com/wa-…..fGvnC.dpuf

      Summary:

      1. ALL public vehicles INCLUDING POLICE CARS must be marked on the sides with identifying lettering or logo.

      2. One is not, by law, required to stop for an unmarked vehicle in WA.

      3. “Special undercover or confidential investigative purposes” does not include traffic enforcement.

      4. Fuck off. If the purpose of traffic enforcement is public safety, them traffic enforcement vehicles should be plainly marked to deter infractions. The ONLY reason to have unmarked traffic enforcement vehicles is to increase revenue collection, basically turning cops into roving armed tax collectors.

  24. Look. This is not a success story. This is a failure to fail, at best.

    An informed and concerned non-violent speaks respectfully to an officer of the law, informing him that he may be in violation of the law. The officer responds as any decent human being should. Nothing else happened.

    What is shocking is that we all EXPECTED this to end in violence. We have, in general, come to expect the police to use their power to get their way — either physical force, coercision, or threats.

    But what bothers me is that all of the tickets this fellow has written are still standing, though they ought not be.

    Officer Not-A-Dick needs to get on the phone and call every person he has given a ticket to, inform them that they were illigally ticketed, and recommend that they go to the courts to have it removed. Will he do that? Will his department blink an eye when another officer does the same thing? No.

    Instead, he gets “Officer of the Fleeting Moment” for acting like a decent human being, NOT owning up to his own failure, and NOT taking responsibility for his previous actions.

    Like I said. This is not a win. This is, at best, a failure to fail. As in, “congrats!! You didn’t finish the marathon, but at least you quit in time to get to Denny’s!”

    1. Love it.

  25. It happens like a story, very curious and attractive

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.