Civil Liberties

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.