Police Abuse

Michigan Cops Plan to Pull Teenagers Over for Obeying the Law

A Macomb County program aimed at "rewarding" good drivers casually violates their constitutional rights.

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Macomb County Sheriff's Office

"I suppose you're wondering why I pulled you over," says the cop after sauntering over to the driver's side window of your car. Well, yes, you are wondering. Your heart is pounding, your palms are sweating, and your mind is racing, trying to figure out what you did to justify this forcible stop by an armed agent of the state. "It's because you're such a good driver," he says, "and we wanted to reward you with a $5 gift card. Do you prefer Taco Bell, Subway, or McDonald's?"

Pick the reaction that best describes how you would feel in this situation:

1. Relieved that your brush with the law has ended in such a benign manner, you laugh heartily and thank the officer, thinking what a swell fellow he is and how lucky you are to live in a jurisdiction where traffic cops believe in positive reinforcement.

2. Furious that the officer has abused his powers by pulling you over without reasonable suspicion that you have committed a traffic offense, you struggle to remain civil as he hands you the gift card of your choice. As he drives off, you shake your head in disbelief at this casual violation of your constitutional rights.

3. Furious that the officer has abused his powers by pulling you over without reasonable suspicion that you have committed a traffic offense, you take down his name and badge number, promising to take the matter up with his superiors. You firmly explain to him why what he has done is unacceptable in a free society.

Did I mention that you are 17? The Macomb County, Michigan, sheriff's office, which recently launched a gift-card reward program for teenagers caught complying with the law, seems to assume the average adolescent driver will react with gratitude to being detained for no good reason. "The sheriff's office is pleased to partner with State Farm in this initiative," says Sheriff Anthony Wickersham. "Programs like this help to develop positive relationships between our deputies and the young adult community. We look forward to the positive interaction with our new drivers."

WDIV, the NBC station in Detroit, reports that "police are looking for drivers wearing seat belts, coming to a complete stop, using turn signals and following speed limits." So teenagers who don't want to be pulled over should be careful to flout those rules. On second thought, that might not work. It looks like their only safe option is to stay off the road.  

[Thanks to Kim Pound for the tip.]

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  1. Let’s pull over every attractive female who looks like they could be under the age of 24, just to give them gift cards. And ever colored male…for the gift cards.

    1. Don’t forget to check the attractive gal’s phone for evidence of kiddie pr0n!

      1. And make sure she puts out her cigarettes.

  2. This is ludicrous. They’re obviously pulling kids over in an effort to search for some infraction they can cite them for.

  3. Oh really now, this is just too much. The government wants to hand out free shit and you people are complaining. Next you’ll be complaining about the free roads and the free schools and the free healthcare. I suppose if the government believed in free speech you’d whine about that, too.

  4. Oh, come on now. Look at that picture of Wickersham. Doesn’t his honest, caring face just fill you with reassurance? Especially in his fancy brownshirt and tie with his funny hat. And the cooling, mellow blue background. He’s obviously the type of goodly soul that only wants what’s best for kids.

    1. If it was Emily Wickersham I’d be happy to pull over,even consent to a strp search.

    2. Yeah, a real loser. Only a Major General. Most sheriffs these days sport four stars, which outrank even U.S. Grant when he brought down the whole Confederacy.

  5. Do you prefer Taco Bell, Subway, or McDonald’s?

    Someone alert the First Lady!

  6. “As I was going to hand him the gift card I detected a strong odor of marijuana.”

    1. Yeah. The thing is, I bet it really isn’t meant as just a pretext– that the officers are sincere in their desire to have some positive interactions with people instead of just threatening ones– but I wonder what will happen in court the first time one of these stops turns up evidence in “plain view” of some other infraction.

      1. that the officers are sincere in their desire to have some positive interactions with people

        Why would they give a shit? Seriously. Why?

        1. the officers are sincere in their desire

          feelings….all they are is feelings

        2. aw, they just want to be wuvved

        3. Because a few of them are actual human beings? Maybe I’m a starry eyed optimist, but I imagine there are a few cops who honestly want to do good.

          1. I don’t disagree, but this is a system that both incentives police officers doing bad and punishes them for doing good.

          2. I’m sure many of their hearts are in the right place, but this pretty much repeals the 4th Amendment.

            1. So the bad objective results trump* their subjective feelings of benevolence.

              *sorry

            2. So the bad objective results trump* their subjective feelings of benevolence.

              *sorry

              1. You’re not sorry, lazy bastard

      2. Bullshit. It’s a pretext.

  7. We look forward to the positive interaction with our new drivers.

    As you willy nilly waste their time while force-ably stopping them without probable cause so you can “smell drugs” and use it as an excuse to search their cars and further violate their rights…

    1. The late George Carlin was right. This is a fascism with sneakers and smiley-face T-shirts.

    2. Or arrest them for obeying a lawful order after you ask them to put out their cigarette.

  8. Who’s paying for the gift cards?

    1. There are no gift cards. It’s a pretense for an illegal search.

      1. I’m sure there are gift cards. Paid for by State Farm most likely.

        But otherwise yes. This is nothing but a pretense for an illegal search.

    2. State Farm, I’d hope.

      I know, I know, hope, so quaint.

  9. Gift cards for fast food restaurants? They would be “rewarding” me with something I would never, ever, want to use. I don’t like putting poison in my body.

    1. Hey, if you know a faster cure for constipation than Taco Bell, I’d like to hear it.

  10. What the heck are they thinking?

    Cop: “Hi there! I pulled you over because your driving is soooo good! And for that here’s a Tim’s gift card for unlimited Timbits (valid only in Ontario)…wait. Is that…Do I smell…BLAM, BLAM, BLAM!’

    I told this story already but as I sat with my kid at a counter in a Michigan convenience/gas station while she downed her Subway ham sandwich, I noticed a sign that warned people if they bought alcohol for minors they’d be sent to jail.

    I could only shake my head. If there’s one difference – one major difference – between Canada and the USA it’s that the former doesn’t have the same culture when it comes to prison. We don’t throw people in prison willy-nilly and certainly not for stupid things like that.

    1. “Hi there! I pulled you over because your driving is soooo good! And for that here’s a Tim’s gift card for unlimited Timbits (valid only in Ontario)…wait. Is that…Do I smell…BLAM, BLAM, BLAM!’

      Seems like a scene out of South Park

    2. I could only shake my head. If there’s one difference – one major difference – between Canada and the USA it’s that the former doesn’t have the same culture when it comes to prison. We don’t throw people in prison willy-nilly and certainly not for stupid things like that.

      Because you lack the will of the warrior, loser!

      1. Enjoy being a warrior behind bars!

        /inhales doobie.

        1. Watch me go out today, get stopped and thrown in jail for not signalling my flasher on a turning light.

        2. Fun fact, I’m the only member of my immediately family that hasn’t been arrested, although I have been detained by border control.

          1. We got detained coming back into Quebec at the Vermont-Quebec border years ago. I was wearing a Timberland shirt I had just bought and a pack of M&M’s. They kept me, my sister and her boyfriend (later husband) for over an hour until she snapped and began going Medieval in the room. I heard yelling and finally saying ‘that’s my brother in the other room and all he bought was a pack of M&M’s! Is that a crime now?!’

            Man was I laughing.

            1. Forgot to add…the agent was stunned and all he could say was ‘Calm down madame. It all makes sense. You can go now.’

              1. Today that would get all of you sent to Gitmo as terrorists.

            2. Before 9/11 I lived in Ohio and I used to travel to Canada on a regular basis. I didn’t need a passport to get back into Les ?tats-Unis. I still love Canada but the assholean border patrol guards make the crossing of the border miserable now. In my humble opinion the U.S. Border guards are far worse than the Canadian ones. I have never met a rude or obnoxious Canadian border guard – they are almost universally polite and professional. I cannot say the same for the U.S thugs.

              1. “Have a nice day, eh.

                “Oh, is that book by Ann Coulter? I’m afraid I’ll have to confiscate that…racist literature, ya know.

                “Well, come back and see us anytime…leave the illegal literature at home, though, eh?”

              2. The Canadian airport security are also way better than the American ones.

                A couple of years ago, I flew out of Dulles to a small town in BC. On the way BACK, the Canadian airport security found a pocket knife and some scissors in my backpack. I had totally forgotten I had a fucking KNIFE in my bag. I mean, I got through security at DULLES with this shit. Nobody noticed until I tried to board the plane back from Canada.

                They let me keep the scissors. And I wasn’t molested.

              3. I crossed into Canada at Windsor/Detriot. The Canadian border guards did just about everything but slash open the headliner and seats in my car while detaining me for about an hour. They also conducted a thorough search of my suitcase, computer bag, and camera bag.

                They were teeth-grittedly “polite”.

                The only openly rude US border and customs people I have encountered were in New York / JFK airport. I ascribe that to their being New Yorkers and nothing more. TSA transit-hall people are another story, but that is because most of them are Tyrones and Shaniquas.

          2. Gotta maintain the accuracy of that handle, huh? I bet border control grabbed you for being in the country illegally, after you messed up filing your taxes so bad that you got deported.

  11. So, Michigan State Farm customers…..time to go insurance shopping, yeah?

    1. This is the type of nonsense I would expect from State Farm.

  12. This is 100% guaranteed to end with someone dead or in jail.

    1. Well, it IS an interaction with police, so, duh.

      Maybe if they had State Farm employees hand out the cards, in a non-traffic-stop-by-police sort of situation. I guess that would just be normal business promotion then, and not some fuckedup jackboot-pretense-generating pile of moron stupid goddamn….ok, sorry, lost my cool there, just sayin the insurance agents are a lot less likely to murder potential customers.

      1. Insurance companies have no authority to stop anyone.

        1. get new batteries for your sarcasmometer, read harder, and grow a sense of humor.

    2. That’s the point.

      1. And we say this like it’s a bad thing….but Ideally, if police were only out there arresting suspects for victimful crimes, then really, those suspects should be in jail, or when they offer lethal resistance, dead.

        1. Crimes with victims require like actual investigations and work and stuff. Victimless crimes are much easier to prove. Not only that but there’s no profit to be made from crimes with actual victims, unlike victimless crimes against the state. So it’s only rational that cops tend to ignore crimes with victims while focusing their attention on crimes against the state.

  13. Picking Taco Bell automatically results in a search of your car for marijuana/marijuana paraphernalia.

    1. Picking Subway comes with a warrant to search your home computer.

      1. Picking McDonald’s comes with an automatic Section 941 for being a danger to yourself and others. (Or whatever the Michigan equivalent of the 72-hour psychiatric time-out is)

  14. Maybe I need new glasses, but how can you tell the age of the driver as they cruise past you at 45mph?

    1. You can tell because of the strong smell of marijuana coming from their car.

    2. Probably the same way cops can tell someone is a suspect in a previous crime by the color of their skin.

    3. Excellent Point.

      Obviously, they need to setup checkpoints.

  15. 3. Furious that the officer has abused his powers by pulling you over without reasonable suspicion that you have committed a traffic offense, you take down his name and badge number, promising to take the matter up with his superiors. You firmly explain to him why what he has done is unacceptable in a free society.

    At which point the officer fears for his life and opens fire.

  16. This is an excuse to entrap people and make something up so they can cite them, and generate revenue for the violent state.

    Officer: Hey Jimmy, I just pulled you over so I could give you a $5 gift ca………GUN!!!! BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM!!!!!!! Oh crap!!! It was a wallet….

    Or…
    Officer: Hi Jill, I pulled you over to reward you with a gift card for your safe driving. You mind putting that cigarette out?

    Jill: Seriously??? I’m on the way to a job interview, and you are going to make me late. No I’m not putting out my cigarette, and if you’ll please move out of the way, I have to go.

    Officer: I said put out that cigarette!! You’ll go only after I’ve given you the gift card!!

    Jill: Ok, I don’t want your gift card, and I’m not being detained, so I am leaving, please move out of the way.

    Officer: You hit me!!!!!! Halt!!!!!!! BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM!!!!!!!

  17. Yeah, thanks for the five dollar gift card. Now I have to explain to my boss why I’m showing up to work late because I was pulled over for NOT violating traffic laws. Unbelievable.

  18. 1) What in the hell can you get for $5 these days?
    2) Do the kid’s get to pet the Sheriff’s pet dog, Sniffy?
    3) Every interaction with police is positive reinforcement – the addition of a stimuli. It’s just in this case the addition is a gift card versus a baton upside the head.

  19. I prefer you go fuck yourself pig. Talk about fishing expeditions.

  20. yeah, it will take about 30 seconds for this to evolve into carte blanche for the police to stop absolutely anyone for no reason at all. They can always say they were going to give them a gift card when the driver became aggressive and they feared they were a threat.

    I wonder how this will go down in black communities.
    Hmmm…. we can’t stop her for not using a turn signal…. I KNOW, We”ll stop her for using a turn signal, and then if we don’t find anything and she’s appropriately submissive, we’ll give her a gift card. Otherwise jail.

  21. So I’m guessing an associate of Mary Stack has been in this thread.

    http://www.clickondetroit.com/…..2247937844

  22. Reminds me of some yrs. ago when a Hispanic lady was a traffic cop at a 4-way stop intersection near a school near here that was just letting out. As I turned left in the intersection, she beckoned me for…I don’t know what. I opened my window to ask what it was about, she gave me a stern look & pointed at me, saying, “Don’ take no chancess!” Just mystifying. It’s like she just wanted att’n & to look important.

    1. “….Move along, Sir”

      -South Park Mallcop

  23. I can see how the police might want to improve their image with something like this, but really, this is not the best way to do it. How many heart attacks will this cause? 😉

  24. “Gee, thanks Officer Friendly. You give me a gift card for half a teenage meal, and reset my teen social status to zero.

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