VCU Police made complete fools out of themselves tonight with me, Allie, and Katelin. We were walking back to our cars in a VCU lot when all of a sudden three VCU cops on bikes roll up to my car and surround me. It was two men and one woman. They violated several of my rights and made complete idiots out of themselves. It was seriously like something off of Reno 911! (The woman cop almost kind of looked like the one from the show) It would almost be funny how ridiculous they were if it didn’t insult me so much the way they treated us. Here’s how the conversation went down:
POLICEMAN 1: “How are you this evening, sir? How much you had to drink tonight?”
ME: “Uh, nothing at all?”
POLICEMAN 1: “Why don’t you go ahead and step out of the car, sir. You were walking a little funny back there.” (I was walking a little funny? I was walking the way I always walk, and if you really want to investigate a real problem, go across the street to the hundreds of people at the Hyperlink waiting to get in the door and check them out because it definitely smelled like pot and everyone was running around and making a racket)
POLICEWOMAN: “There’s three of them, let me take one.”
POLICEMAN 2: “Shut up, I can handle this.” (I’m seriously not making this stuff up)
POLICEWOMAN: “Somebody’s been drinking, this place reeks of alcohol.”
ME: “Um, no, I haven’t had anything at all…”
POLICEWOMAN: “Yeah? What’s that under your seat?” (She points to an empty soft drink can wedged under my front seat, I pull it out, and she actually has the nerve to question it further)
ME: “I just need to clean out my car, I left that in there…”
POLICEWOMAN: “What did you have in that can and why is it empty?”
ME: “Root beer? It’s a soft drink can…” (She looks at it all suspiciously)
POLICEMAN 1: “Okay I’m gonna check your eyes out here real quick.” (He pulls out a pen and tells me to follow it with my eyes without moving my head) “What do you wear contacts for?” (You’ve got to be kidding me; what a stupid question… what do you think contacts are for?)
ME: “Farsightedness?” (I look at him in with that “Did you really just ask me that question, you idiot?” look)
POLICEMAN 2: “So do you have astigmatism or something?” (Oh come on)
POLICEMAN 1: “So has your passenger been drinking tonight?”
ME: “No, not at all.” (I later found out that while all of this was going on the policewoman was on the other side of the car questioning Allie and accusing us of hiding beer in a CVS bag in my back seat that had nothing in it but toothpaste and shampoo that I bought before we went down there)
POLICEMAN 1: “Okay, you’re good to go.”
Finally, we were free to go. I feel that several of our rights were violated in this situation:
1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe you can legally search someone’s vehicle without a warrant to find things that are not in plain view.
2. What was their probable cause? The fact that I was, in one of the cop’s opinions, “walking a little funny?” I was walking completely normal.
I’d also really like to know what in the world he was doing asking me why I wore contacts and was offended that he asked “how much” I had been drinking when the correct thing to ask would have been “have you had anything to drink tonight.” I do realize that they see a lot go on down there and have to be weary, but they completely jumped to conclusions and were accusatory to the point of being very unprofessional. They were poorly coordinated, argued amongst one another, and seemed to be on major power trips. They also completely fabricated several things, the biggest being that my car “reeked of alcohol.” There wasn’t, nor had there ever been, alcohol in my car, so I was completely bewildered, offended, and angry that they would make up such a blatant lie.
I was offended at how the situation was handled and feel that VCU Police are not doing a satisfactory job at all. I can’t speak for all VCU officers, but the unprofessional and unskilled behavior of this group leads me so far as to say that their salaries (that group specifically) are a waste of Virginia taxpayers’ money.
I feel this is something that needs to be shared, so pass it along.