Knowing Your Rights Doesn't Mean It's Great To Be A Jackass

There's certainly plenty of examples of police overstepping their authority, and as a citizen it absolutely makes sense to be aware of your rights, and know when they're being violated. That said, not every cop is a monster, and not every situation is a righteous battle. The man in this video maybe should consider that.

This video was shot by the driver at a "safety checkpoint" in Illinois. The actual constitutionality of these checkpoints is still somewhat vague and up for debate, though the stated purpose of this one — checking for valid licenses and insurance — isn't particularly odious in itself.

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The driver goes into the checkpoint recording video and already set in the idea that the checkpoint isn't constitutional. He may have a point there, though you can be pretty certain that the people least capable of changing the interpretation of the constitution that would allow or disallow such a stop are the cops stuck working at the checkpoint right then.

The first cop is actually quite polite and patient with the guy, who informs him he's being recorded and immediately asks if he's being detained. Sure, the other cop overreacts, but you could also argue that the driver was being pretty confrontational himself.

If he just showed his valid license and insurance, which he had, the entire exchange would have been over in seconds. He could then have gone home and written a letter to his state representative complaining about the illegality of such checkpoints, which would have done a lot more good than pissing off a tightly wound cop.

Police stopping a car often don't know what kind of trouble is lurking behind that glass, and as a result they're often on edge during these interactions. Based on their work, that's understandable. It doesn't excuse abuses of power, but it maybe should be considered when picking your battles.

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Even the title of the video suggests he's sort of spoiling for a chance to make a point: Cop Loses It On Man Who Knows His Rights During A Road Side Safety Check!

Unless this guy is just like this all the time. Maybe he goes into a Subway and orders, then says "AM I BEING DETAINED? AM I FREE TO GO OR ARE YOU GOING TO KEEP ME HERE AS YOU MAKE MY FOOTLONG MEATBALL SUB? AM I BEING DETAINED? I HAVE A RIGHT TO BANANA PEPPERS ON THAT SUB. I KNOW MY RIGHTS."

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I can't help but feel that videos of exchanges like this just muddy the waters and dilute the impact of actual, genuine issues in police/citizen interactions. The cop would have done well to stay calm, sure, but even I kind of wanted to slap this guy, a little. There's real problems out there, and pushing a cop stuck doing a tedious job to snapping over showing a license and insurance card just doesn't seem the best way to accomplish anything.

What do you think?

(h/t Carscoops!)

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DISCUSSION

heyyouguys
HeyYouGuys

I think this is the most reasonable and rational article on the subject I've ever seen on a Gawker site.

You can manipulate a situation any way you want to achieve the desired outcome. Want to prove someone is an asshole? Set up a camera and then bait them into losing their temper. BOOM. "Proof" of asshole.

The majority of police are just trying to enforce the law and survive to see their kids tonight. While the legality of these checkpoints are questionable, the last thing a LEO needs is some self appointed Neighborhood Constitutional Justice Warrior (who obviously left the house looking for the fight) answering simple questions by screaming "AM I BEING DETAINED!!!???"

Polite applause for you for having a rational view on the matter, as opposed to the knee-jerk "F the police" attitude prevalent today.