Tuesday, January 19, 2010

One Fake Gun and Five Real Cops

Wow! What an adventure! And what a crazy set of circumstances let to this!

A Walk In The Park
It all started earlier today when I looked out the window and realized that I was tired of being indoors. Thinking back over the week, I realized that although I'd done many fun and awesome things, none of them involved actually being outside. Taking into account the fact that I had to be somewhere at seven, I tried to think up some nice afternoon activity and eventually decided that hiking would be perfect. So me and my boyfriend headed off at about five to go hiking in Oyster Bay. It was very nice and pleasant, and the area was beautiful: The park overlooks the water in several directions, and you can see the planes land at the Oakland airport. After arriving at the place, parking the car, and seeing how long we could balance on railroad tracks, the two of us walked into the park. It was very enjoyable to be strolling along, taking in the beautiful landscape, and chatting about all sorts of interesting topics. We also discovered that it's a great place to play hide and seek, especially when it's approaching sunset.

And Then Unexpectedly...
As we started walking back to my car, the only worry on my mind was that I hoped that I wouldn't be late to the girl's movie night. That thought immediately vanished from my mind as soon as I saw the street, and noticed two quite unsettling facts. First, I observed that I could see not one, but two police cars. Second, I noticed that I did not see my own car anywhere! I started going over in my mind what possibly could be going on...
Did I park in an illegal spot?
Did they tow my car?
Why would the police be involved in that?
Were we at the park too late?
Why would that have anything to do with my car?
All this raced through my mind, but the obvious thing to do was to quickly leave the park, check on my car, and if confronted by the cops, ask what was going on. The lights of one of the police cars facing the park entrance glared brightly into our eyes, so that we could not see much in that direction until we had actually gotten out of the park. At the point, I was very relieved to see that my car was, in fact, still there. It had just been blocked from my sight by a police car parked right next to it. I never got a chance to ask the policemen any of my questions, though, because as soon as we stepped foot onto the sidewalk, a tall and very serious-looking cop asked me "Is that your car?"


I said "Yes." and He repeated "That's your car?" So I clarified "Yes. It's a '95 Saturn. Two door coup." Without hesitation he told us both to put our hands on the fence posts. To turn around immediately and put our hands against the fence! Of course I did what he said. The first thing that came into my head was that one time a friend of mine reflexively pulled her arm away from a cop, which resulted in her getting tackled, pepper-sprayed, pretty much beaten up by more than one cop, and charged with resisting arrest. That wasn't how I wanted my night to end! The policeman frisked both of us and asked "Do you have any weapons or illegal substances on you that you want to tell us about?" I replied "No sir." I know that cops deal with a high percent of criminals, and until they know that you are not going to harm them, they must assume that you can and might. It's not that it's guilty until proven innocent, it's just that you are considered armed and dangerous unless proven otherwise. I didn't want them to feel threatened and so I cooperated as much as I could.

How I Deal With Police:
Now, I don't get much opportunity to deal with police. This is mainly because, obviously, I'm not usually breaking the law. But I do respect police as authority figures, and care for them as people, and so I am very intentional in my dealings with cops. I think that in general, they are awesome people who protect us, and they deserve our respect and cooperation. I try to give clear and concise answers, because that's what everyone ultimately wants. They don't want to chit chat, they just want to make sure they know what's going on and that everything is good. I don't really want to slow things down either. Also, I act respectfully because I care about them as people, and because I want to reflect Christ well. I don't want the police to walk away and complain about some slouchy, disrespectful, and hard-to-deal-with citizen. I'd rather follow the ideas that Christ put forward about being at peace with all men, and going the extra mile for demanding soldiers. My goal is that policemen, or any people, walk away from an interaction with a christian wishing that all people were like that. So I try to show respect for policeman, make things go smoothly, and be as concise and information as I can be. That's my ethic.

Serious Interrogation
My friend, clearly unused to the whole being-detained-by-cops situation, answered the question about illegal substances by saying "I don't think so." The cop seemed to find that highly suspicious and repeated "You don't THINK so?" Naturally, they found that we didn't have anything dangerous or illegal, and so we turned to face them. Immediately the cop demanded "Why is there a gun in the back seat of your car?" Right then it struck me as funny... That's what this was all about?? The broken airsoft gun in the back of my car with the missing tip? But I bit my lip to keep from chuckling, and answered very seriously that it was my brother's airsoft gun, which no longer had it's red tip, and that it didn't even work anymore.

The "gun" in question

As I spoke, more police cars pulled up, so that there were four police cars at the time. The officer asked for the keys to my car, so that he could check out the gun, and I pulled my keyring out of my pocket, grabbed the correct key, and handed it to him.

Time went on as they asked us a whole slew of questions. What were we doing in the park? What was our relationship to each other? Did we see anyone else? Did we hear any sort of disturbance? Were we playing any pranks? What were our names? Could they see our IDs? (Mine was in the car, in my purse, and so they went again to find that) Those the questions were somewhat mundane, I was not for an instant bored! My heart was racing, and my mind working overtime to take in this rather new and startling situation. What was this really all about? From what I picked up from listening to the conversation of some of the other cops, it seems that it was a kidnapping case, involving a crazy white male wearing red and a missing person who was blond. Both of whom were reportedly last seen at Oyster Bay. Pretty big deal then, and the cops get there get there and find one car. With a gun in it. Pretty suspicious. Now, most of the questions they asked were pretty simple and I could respond with answers such as "Yes, sir." "No, sir." or "We were taking a walk." But there a few of them that rather tripped me up.

"Why do you have an airsoft gun in your car?"
Well, I didn't really have a good reason. It was laying about in my room, I'd been watching spy shows, and I was going somewhere, so I decided to take it with me. Later, I referred to it as "my airsoft gun" which prompted the immediate reaction
"Your gun? You said previously that it was your brother's gun!"
Oh dear. I tried to explain that I have eight brothers, and so even if something belongs to one person in particular, mainly we just called things according to who has possession of it.
"What is the address of your workplace?"
It was right then that I realized: I didn't know the address. I just know how to get there! Only one question stumped Josh.
"What is your home phone number?"
Confidently, he stated the truth: "I don't know." Needless to say, the cop then gives him an incredulous look and responds "You don't know your own phone number??"

Thank you, that is all
Still another police car joined the scene. In the end though, despite the lack of knowledge about phone numbers, changing stories about the gun, and suspicious location, the officers could see that we were really no threat at all. The consensus seemed to be that we simply had a bad case of "Wrong place, Wrong time." That and the added factor of the dumb mistake of leaving an illegal airsoft gun in plain sight in the back of the car. At one point, an officer mentioned that it was definitely a very bad idea to have it sitting there in the back of my car. He continued and explained that if a cop pulled me over for something normal and saw that gun, I would very quickly find myself with a gun pointed at me. Finally we were informed that after they checked to make sure that we weren't wanted in any of the fifty states, we would be free to go. Did I feel relieved? Well, to be honest, I had never felt in any danger all along, and the whole situation had certainly been pretty exciting! Nevertheless, I was happy to be in possession of my car keys again.

Apparently there aren't any warrants out for my arrest, and thus the police let us leave and everything was good. I did not, however, get the gun back. Oh well. It was broken anyway. That gun. While the whole situation made perfect sense, I must admit that when I set that gun down in my car, it never crossed my mind that it would ever be such a big deal. Thinking back, I wonder how long the whole incident lasted? I really can't say. I seriously wasn't even keeping track of that. Now of course I was quite late for the seven-o-clock meeting, but it was alright; I had an epic tale to share with them!