Brickbat: Testing Our Patience


baking soda
Photopips /

Gale Griffin and Wendell Harvey spent two and a half months in an Arkansas jail after drug field tests falsely showed that baking soda they had in the truck they were driving was cocaine. The couple were eventually freed after a public defender insisted on an actual lab test. But they say their truck was damaged when they got it back from law enforcement, and they say the arrest cost them their security clearance, which means they can no longer do their job, which was transport explosives for the federal government.

NEXT: Dear Media: Please Stop Normalizing the Alt-Right

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 or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I feel fortunate. I only had to spend 3 miserable weeks at Fort Chaffee.
    I get the probable cause shit with field tests, but there is no excuse for not doing real tests immediately after arrest.

      1. Arkies do like them trucks. The damage mentioned was probably from some off-road or mud racing.

  2. Not saying these people did any thing wrong or deserved what happened to them,but I’m genuinely curious why you would have three baggies full of baking soda in your car/truck? Only thing I can think of is odor control, but then you wouldn’t seal it up.

    1. Maybe they had a friend with a really smelly refrigerator.

      I feel the correct libertarian response is “That’s none of our goddamn business.”

      1. For comparison, I once walked out of a Wal-Mart with a car battery, a pair of jumper cables, some duct tape, a hacksaw, some heavy duty black plastic bags, and a toilet repair kit. To some that might look like the shopping list of a serial killer.

        I just had a leaky toilet and a car battery die on me around the same time. So I had to fix them both around the same time. If it’s not one thing it’s another. And the local garbagemen are dicks about making sure that everything is in a bag,

        1. Yes I get that. People do weird shit, I don’t think wondering why is un-libertarian. Sometimes when/if you find out, there is a good reason, and I do not mean good as in it’s okay, I mean good as in “Gee, I didn’t know that.’ or ‘hey, that’s clever I’ll have to remember that’. Again these people can carry suitcases full of actual blow for all I care, and no one needs to explain their weird actions to me or anyone else. That doesn’t mean I can’t ponder the whys and wherefores of said weirdness.

          1. “whys and wherefore”

            Okay, we’ll let you slide this time, Mr. Redundant.

          2. I don’t know if this is common knowledge but baking soda is great for getting burned-on gunk off of metal pots and pans. If you screw up and burn food in a pan just fill it with water, heat to boiling, add a good amount of baking soda, and let it boil for a while. It pretty much lifts the gunk off the surface.

            1. It’ also very good for neutralizing and cleaning battery acid corrosion off of battery posts/terminals

          3. 1. They were licensed to transport explosives.
            2. Baking soda is half of the ingredients to launch a baking soda rocket.

        2. I seem to recall a comedian doing a bit about trying to come up with the most suspicious set of individually normal things you could buy in a hardware store.

          I also remember having some guys come shoot at me and my roommates one night in our driveway when I was in my late teens. The cops eventually showed up and invited themselves into the house to interview us. We had some basement living quarters that were kind of damp, and a bit of an insect problem due to that, so I had a big bag (like an ounce) of Borax on the window sill of the living room. The cops were suddenly very interested in that.

          But, this being Vermont in the 80s I was just like “Do you think I would leave an ounce of drugs on the windowsill and have you in? Its Borax. You know what that is, right? We have bugs.” And they went on their merry way. It may have helped that we obviously had nothing worth confiscating.

          Anyway, there are good reasons (and also some good and legal reasons) for having bags of white powder sitting around, but you should probably expect that the cops will at least be interested in them.

          1. Not that that ought to mean they can just take your shit indefinitely, of course.

            1. They don’t sell single coat hangers – they only come in multi packs

              1. Eww.. If I ever meet you in person, remind me to not shake hands with you, even if you are a Yankee.

            2. That’s likely what I was recalling.

      2. Back when I used to have a swimming pool, I had to dump in something like ten pounds of baking soda every spring.

        SLD: It’s none of our business why they had it.

      3. Back when I used to have a swimming pool, I had to dump in something like ten pounds of baking soda every spring.

        SLD: It’s none of our business why they had it.

        1. And, squirrels

    2. Because fuck off, slaver.

    3. They’re from near Salt Lake City – probably some religious thing.

  3. Hammer and sickle replaced by Arm and Hammer.

    1. Armand Hammer?

  4. It would be fun to be their attorney.

  5. There’s a very simple remedy to the problem of false positives and the arrest of innocent people which I can’t believe no one has thought of yet. Just make it a criminal offense to transport or possess any substance that could reasonably to law enforcement be mistaken as a controlled substance.

    1. #MAGA

    2. But what if they hide it somewhere on their persons? Perhaps we should have naked checkpoints. I’d be OK with manning one if it weren’t for the fact that my desire to see certain people naked is well outweighed by my desire to not see the rest of them naked.

      And what if they hid things in their orifices? Well, I’d manfully man that checkpoint except- actually, square my objections above. When you’re a federale they let you walk up and grab them by the their orrifice, but… ewww. A sane drug policy would, if nothing else, prevent things that cannot be unseen from having to be seen. And untouched/touched, etc.

      1. ” my desire to see certain people naked is well outweighed by my desire to not see the rest of them naked.”

        What, you never heard of officer discretion?

        1. You may have a point there. I’m not saying that I couldn’t be persuaded.

      2. “by their orrifice”

        By which I clearly mean their ear…

      3. Some years ago I was introduced to a gynecologist. As he shook my hand he said “People think this is a glamorous job. Trust me, it’s not.”

        1. Yeah, I hear that ob/gyns are actually the happiest of doctors, but I wouldn’t want to be one. At some point, no matter how much you love your work, you stop wanting to take it home with you.

          1. By which I mean, it would make me even more uncertain about wanting to have children. Also, you shook his hand? Eww…

            1. Doctors have been wearing gloves at work for some time now, and started washing their hands back in the 19th century.

              1. Maybe where you’re from, but I’m responding to someone named suthenboy.

                1. From all available evidence, the south is more civilized and has better medical practicioners than the north these days.

                    1. Sorry, you don’t have permission to visit this site.

                      Work proxy says no.

                      I’m afraid you’ll have to use your own words if you want me to see it.

                    2. Just Arnold as Conan, wondering if you’re serious.

                    3. As a New Yorker, I’d seriously look at out-of-state medical institutions for anything serious if I have the time and forewarning to pick a spot. And the general degenerate state of civilization around me goes a long way towards proving my claim with regards to the south being more civilized.

                    4. Ah, I see you were serious. I, on the other hand (the one I don’t shake with, btw) was kidding. At least about the shaking hands thing, and the backward southerner thing. The looking at varied and possibly diseased vaginas all day being possibly off-putting thing I was at least half serious about.

                      You know Twain wrote a bit about this, I think. I mean, he doesn’t use the word vagina anywhere in it, nor does he call out gynecologists specifically, but he waxes a bit poetic about rivermen coming to know the river, in each snag and ripple, at morn and dusk, until it loses its mystery. And then he compares the riverman to the physician, and the river to woman. Twain was a Southerner, btw… I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

            2. Could be worse. Could have been a colorectal surgeon.

              (Cue Bowser and Blue song)

        2. My wife’s uncle is an ob/gyn and most of his adult children and their spouses are too. They run their own ob/gyn clinic. He’s retired now but in his career he personally delivered over 26,000 babies. He has delivered the babies of women he delivered as babies.

          It boggles the mind… just all of it…

          1. He has delivered the babies of women he delivered as babies.

            “Whoa, deja vu.”

            1. When he starts delivering those women’s babies, it might be time to look at retirement.

              1. He’s from a city of about 600k (currently) and was active for about 45 years – so I believe he actually has done 3 generations more than once.

                Yes, he’s retired now.

            2. That’s got to make for a very frenetic and messy delivery room, I imagine. Also, I thought that was just a Rick and Morty joke.

          2. Yes, well, from what I hear the reason ob/gyns are the happiest of doctors (I am not making this up- they at least seem to have the lowest suicide rate among physicians, or did the last time I looked at the stats) has more to do with the ob than the gyn.

            I can see that- every once in a while there is a very unfortunate mishap, but other than that people are usually pretty happy with the outcome. Compare that with being an oncologist or a plastic surgeon (among the most suicidal of physicians.)

          3. So Ron Paul has grabbed more pussies than Donald Trump??

            1. “When they’re knocked out, they let you.”

    3. My plan is that any prosecutor caught fudging the facts has to suffer the same fate as the people they tried to convict. Get busted manipulating facts trying to send someone to deathrow? Then you belong on death row.

      You were trying to kill someone in cold blood. That sounds like what Death Row is made for.

    4. Just amend paraphernalia laws to include look-alikes. It is for the best. We know baking soda is a gateway substance.

  6. So these people can sue the police department for lost wages, right? And if they win the expense win come directly from the police pension fund, yes? What’s that? It won’t? Oh, well then I guess the police have no incentive to correct this behavior and we’ll continue to see nut-punch stories along these lines.

    1. ^This^

      They’ll never change.

    2. It sounds like they lost their security clearance because of an arrest. Given current law, I don’t think the initial arrest was unreasonable.

      1. Possibly not, but field drug tests are notoriously unreliable and should be followed up with an actual lab test as quickly as possible. Not after two and a half fucking months later at the request of public defender. They at the very least deserve back wages for the time incarcerated, if not for any future job related projected income.

        But like I said, even if they are compensated for their time, it won’t come from the pension fund and no behavior will be modified.

        1. Anything with a 50% false positive rate WHEN USED AS DIRECTED should not be considered probable cause. But judges allow it, so the only way to solve that problem would be to send our current crop through the woodchipper and get some new judges. And then leave the woodchipper parked outside the courthouse pour l’encouragment des autres.

  7. Which test confirmed it was baking soda?

    1. The lab mixed it with vinegar in a pop bottle rocket?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.