It had been a long time since I'd seen civilization. I'd long relished the long, hot and humid days of the Appalachian summer woodlands. I hadn't spoken to another human being in? How many weeks had it been? That really didn't matter. Only my dog, Matthau, knows the days for certain and he is resolutely mute.
On the third day of July, 2018 I ventured to make a foray into the nearest hamlet of any consequence, some miles distant from the redoubt. The eve of Independence Day, that most sacred of days for the true patriot, whatever their stripe. This particular jurisdiction is renowned for being "badge heavy", a real law and order kind of place. For those of us of a certain age we will recall those salad days of our youth when Hazard County and Waylon Jennings graced our television screens. Yup. Just some good old boys. A little stump of a man with some hideous facial deformity and Sheriff Roscoe!
My business is my own and I entered with no intentions of lingering in the place. My only true purpose? To acquire a fresh case of Jamesons. Yes, a case. I told you I don't get out much. That state liquor agent, curiously, is not open on national holidays. Who would've thunk it?It must need carry on in this fashion until I perfect my own version to something beyond lighter fluid. This was no complicated plan. I did not, as I have at times before, need to enter the town unobserved. It was a simple trip to the liquor agent and away home. I was eager to make my exit and enjoy the long return ride with the top down. I didn't want to stick around for the festivities.
When the actual observed holiday, which is always THE 4th, falls in midweek as it did this year, the third of July is a curious purgatory. There are those who may have the whole week off, or back to work the following day. Or there are those who work a full day Monday and Tuesday and do not return for five days hence. All true productivity ceased somewhere around 5PM on the preceding Friday. They mill about in varying stages of employ or idleness, no one really certain which is which, but as evening falls excitement and anticipation builds for the next day and all the wonders of Americana it will hold.
Long suffering housewives with the progeny of their unions excitedly tailing underfoot wade elbows deep into the preparation of vats containing cole slaw, potato salad and other picnic concoctions. Except for those afflicted with Trump Derangement Syndrome, most households this year are happy, optimistic. For right or wrong this does seem to be the prevailing mood. Tomorrow their husbands will don Bermuda shorts and grill aprons, to the amusement of their neighbors. Budweiser and Miller beers, in all of their various manifestations, will flow freely from iced coolers. Young children and aged lovers dream starry eyed of the fireworks display and sense the memories of crackling sparks and smell of cordite heavy on the air. Yes it will be a grand time to be had for all, but these are not the only festivities for the long holiday period. There are others who eagerly anticipate an entirely different type of celebration.
All across the country state and local police jurisdictions salivate at the commencement of a prolonged Tea party. That's T E A... targeted enforcement action. Fuck the Fourth Amendment! That was a mistake! Clearly they didn't mean to put that in there! How in the hell are we supposed to protect and serve with that in our way? It's what the people want, after all, isn't it? They want to be policed. Anyone who wears the uniform and carries a badge is a hero. Don't you listen to the news? Yes, starting Tuesday night and for the succeeding five days law enforcement will be out there! Busting all those drunk drivers, conducting random stops and waving their dicks to let everyone know who's boss around this place!
Before I could make my exit I was trapped behind a large gravel truck. An unrepentant pothole jarred the bed of this rolling behemoth and loosed a sizable chunk of limestone upon my windshield. Thankfully the unwitting projectile did not break completely through the screen, though it did spider web the bejesus out of the glass. Damn! Across most of the nation one is within range of the instrument of the popular jingle “Safelite repair, Safelite replace!” As the gravel truck trundled away up the road I thought to myself “I have been annoyed by that syrupy treacle for the last fucking time! Let’s see how good they are here on the afternoon before a national holiday!”
The cell reception in this rocky terrain is often suspect at best, but mercifully I found myself within range of a solid tower and within minutes was in communication with a Safelite agent. “Yes, Mr. Wenty”, I was assured by the agent, “we can have a technician at your location in about 90 minutes.” Well! This might not be so horrible after all then! Allowing a little margin for ineptitude I calculated that I might safely resume my journey by 5:00 and be gone well before darkness. Oh, the best laid plans of mice and men!
It was closer to 7:00 before the job was completed and as I had traveled with Matthau riding shotgun I was forced to re-evaluate my exit plans. The caloric intake required to sustain the adult male boar hound is daunting. Despite their largely sedentary nature this breed rivals most horses in appetite. I guess with a stature of 32” at the shoulder and a solid 180 pounds they’re not actually that far off of the mark. After concluding our business with Safelite Auto Glass we followed our noses to a smoker erected in the square at the center of town. Two drum halves were working; one with hamburgers, the other with ribs. As a stranger in town one expects to pass through unnoticed. This is an impossibility on foot with a formidable looking Mastiff at your side. I decided the best thing for it was to grab a few orders and find a nearby picnic table to try and melt into the scenery.
We took two orders of ribs for twenty bucks, a fair bargain given the portions. Matthau made short work of his and then stuffed his bulk under the picnic table to gnaw contentedly on the bones. I sat with my pipe and engaged in some idle banter with Jeff the Grill Chef, occasionally fielding queries from passers by about the bear I had under the table. Time got away and the next thing I knew darkness was nigh upon us. There would be a nearly two hour ride ahead. No matter what, now, we would have to run the gauntlet. The only thing that could further mar the occasion would be Matthau’s inevitable requirement to evacuate his bowels. It is only after you have had the privilege to pick up after one of these big boys that you can appreciate why these beasts were first used for bear baiting. Nearly any creature traveling the wilds that should happen upon one of these colossal turds in their path will consider carefully whether or not they care discover where it came from. Greasy ribs and sugary BBQ promise a sizable and not necessarily cohesive deposit.
In the growing gloom of darkness trucks with scaffolding and lighting equipment rolled up on the square. An army of tattoos and black Harley Davidson tee shirts emerged from the shadows and began their preparations for the parade review stand that would host the town’s officials and first citizens tomorrow, at high noon. It was only a matter of time before some of those lights were fired up and this was concerning. Matthau, on the whole, is a fairly gentle soul. His biggest fault is not understanding that he is no longer a puppy. He doesn’t know his own strength. Well, there is one other thing I should mention. You know how a lot of dogs go ape shit when you turn on the vacuum cleaner? Well, Matthau is not fond of the vacuum cleaner, but usually contents himself to retreat with his tail between his legs while it is running. If you want to make Matthau go ape shit just shine a light in his eyes. Especially if it is a big, very bright light. He will warn you. Once. After that? Good luck.
With his belly full he was happy to saunter off, away to the opposite side of the square. While the clatter of the construction and the calls of workmen rang into the night behind us we wandered away into the side streets of the town, criss-crossing block after block and always mindful of an empty lot or weedy patch should the need arise. It was nearing 11:00 when finally he began to sniff and do the dance around a row of trash cans in an alley. Under the cover of darkness I let him finish his work and then we hastened on a course to steer around the square and back to the Jeep, hoping to avoid the bright lights.
Having lightened his load Matthau sensed that it was time to resume our ride and quickened his pace. We successfully navigated the correct course on the first attempt only to discover that the Jeep was hemmed in by one the trucks. I got the old boy up into his perch, into the back seat with his head and forepaws stretched over the center console and onto the reclined back of the front passenger seat. Other than curling up in the very rear there is no other way he fits. I cracked the windows down for him and then went over to the crew to see if I could get someone to move the truck. This took a bit of time, but I eventually located the fellow with the keys and got him to roll up far enough to finally back out and be on our way. The digital display on the dashboard read 11:50 PM.
The night was clear and oppressively still, each breath weighted with a tropic humidity. It would be a good ride to have the windows down. I followed the signs marking the twists and turns of the state route through the town to its eventual exit to open country and the interstate beyond. There was no one else on the road. No one, that is, but one of our heroes in blue.
Let me explain a little bit about Targeted Enforcement Actions and some of the tactics that are typically employed. First of all, target vehicles that are from out of town, or better, out of state. This presents an opportunity to collect a bond for any infraction and may further provide seizure of assets under the vague provisions of civil forfeiture laws.
Next, probable cause. Don’t worry about it. Invent one. Someone seems to pause just a bit too long at a stop sign, appearing confused about which way to go. There’s your probable cause. How long is too long to pause at a stop sign? Well officer, too long is whatever you think too long is. We’ll have your back, don’t worry. Just get out there and get us some scalps.
With the potential target identified and probable cause established call it in and start running the plates on the vehicle. It makes no difference that it may not be the vehicle owner driving, just assume that it is. That’s why we give you these tools to work with, officer. Keep the vehicle within view, with your lights off if at all possible. Roll up within striking distance then hit the brights and move up aggressively, get right on their ass. Don’t worry about safety, just try to force them to make some error. It helps bolster your probable cause argument.
Then and only then do you hit the cherries and command the traffic stop. Once the vehicle is halted keep your brights on and aim your spotlight at the sideview mirror. This is too further intimidate the driver, but if asked simply tell them that it is for your safety. Remind them that officers sometimes get shot, that’s always a good one. Once at the vehicle use your handheld flashlight to illuminate the inside and shine it into the drivers face as you demand license, registration and proof of insurance.
While the subject is preparing the required documents begin to pepper them with questions. Continue to ask questions without permitting the subject to finish answering. In trial situations this is known as badgering a witness, but for that brief time that we have you out there on the front lines officer, you are judge, jury and if need be executioner. If the subject in any way becomes disoriented during this process you are then empowered to demand a field sobriety test. Also be alert to any probable cause to search the vehicle. Not for evidence of any further crime! That has to withstand evidence and trial. Assets seized under civil forfeiture do not.
Finally, even if you only suspect that the subject is impaired tag them for it and bring them in. It’s incumbent on them to prove otherwise. There are cops and there are pigs. If you ask a cop whether or not these things are true they will, albeit at times begrudgingly, admit that they are. If you ask a pig they’ll deny it.
At 12:05 AM on the fourth of July officer Beetledick executed these tactics on me as I was exiting town. I know the fucking drill, I had all my “papers” ready before he even dragged his fat ass out of the cruiser. Then I had to scramble to get the choker around Matthau’s neck and draw in the sideview to kill the glaring reflection. Officer Beetledick did not like this one little bit, convinced that I was preparing a weapon. He got a little chub going in his pants when he realized that he had justification for this to be a weapon drawn stop.
I heard the door of the cruiser swing open violently and the piercing beam of the handheld was trained (with his already drawn sidearm, no doubt) at my driver window. “Place your hands where I can see them!” I obliged in the only manner I could under the circumstances, waving my free hand out of the window. If the motto is protect and serve one might take this as a signal of distress, but not so with officer Beetledick. He came closer, into my peripheral field. With all of that illumination it should have been pretty plain what was going on, but several million candlepower could not light the dim gray expanse between this guy’s ears.
“I said get those hands where I can see them!”
“Here is my one hand. I am holding back a rather large dog that is having a fit because of your bright lights!”
“Hey! You getting smart with me!”
“No, I am telling you this hound will not calm down until you douse the beacons!”
“Why are you raising your voice? You got some kinda problem?”
“I am raising my voice so you can hear over the dog! Could you please kill the lights!”
Now he was up at the driver door, still insisting on shining that god damned light into the car. “Those lights are for my protection! Police officers get shot in the line of duty sometimes you know.”
Yeah. They always like to put that one out there. I’m sitting there thinking “Yes, and its a wonder more of you don’t get capped”. I said nothing else, only held license, registration and proof of insurance out the window with my free hand. He snatched these away and finally switched off the flashlight, but Matthau was still upset. As a boar hound he has a nose for all things porcine and this tool was definitely a pig. He had that perpetually constipated look of the confused 11 year old boy trying to figure out if he has sprouted a pubic hair or gotten a hard on. In this instance I suspect there would be need of magnification to find either.
“Do you have any idea why I stopped you tonight?”
“I do not. Would you tell me?”
“Have you been drinking tonight?”
“Not a drop. Can you tell me why I’ve been stopped?”
“You got some place you need to be? You in a hurry?”
I know the game this guy was playing so I said nothing further. In these cases it is best to say nothing at all unless asked a direct, specific question because it doesn’t make one damned bit of difference what you say: it will be wrong. They’re looking for a fight. This awkward silence is precious when the officer realizes that he’s got nothing. Even though no one else is watching he still has to try to wave his dick around to save face.
“Why you giving me attitude, huh?”
“I’m just trying to keep my dog calm until we conclude our business here and drive home.” As I finished speaking those words headlights painted the underside of boughs hanging over the road just ahead. There was someone approaching from around a curve about five hundred feet away. Officer Beetledick’s eyes darted away at their approach. I knew at that moment it was over. The oncoming headlights broke hard around that little bend in the road and it was coming at some speed.
Officer Beetledick had already run my plates then requested that dispatch pull up an operators license for the same party. Plates current, no wants or warrants, no moving violations. All of the lights were functioning properly, all the windows secure, sufficient tread on all the tires, proof of insurance provided. I was not impaired, I had not been speeding, run any traffic signals, weaved, operated a cell phone. HE HAD JACK SHIT. He was fishing and he got caught at it. The driver of the approaching vehicle apparently had not expected to find a police cruiser and over reacted to correct their driving. As a consequence he/she lost control of the vehicle and rolled it across the road and smashed into a guardrail. He/she probably had been drinking.
Beetledick handed me my papers, but before he hastened to his cruiser he offered this sage advice (or was it a warning?), “You need to have some respect for the law, Mister”. Thanks officer Beetledick. I sure will, golly-gee, I will. Now go get ‘em, Tiger! I don’t know that the other driver was drunk. It could’ve been a heart attack or a seizure of some kind, for all I know. I didn’t stick around to find out. The only crime committed in that shithole of a burg was that some imbecile handed a badge, a loaded weapon(s) and a $40,000 police cruiser to that douchebag of an excuse for a human being, officer Beetledick, and then loosed the stooge upon an unsuspecting public.
The only thing worse than all the pigs in this country are those who adore them. The fawning, pathetic hero worship for anyone who can squeeze their ass into one of those uniforms has just gone too far by half. I’m sorry. I’m not an advocate for going around and killing cops and cast the same kind of venom upon those groups who do. You know who you are. Nonetheless, let’s be really honest about what has become of law enforcement in this country, by and large. It has grown into an entity unto itself. What officer Beetledick and others of his species want – no, not want. Demand – is not respect. They expect to be revered and feared. We are to kneel down and lick their boots on demand. That is what they mean by respect for the law.
Well I don’t respect the law, then, officer Beetledick, but we didn’t have the throw down you were looking for. You were trying to bait me because I’m sure that you could sense that I despise and loathe you and those of your ilk with every fiber of my being. You call yourselves officers of the law. Bull shit! You’re all nothing but hired thugs. If you didn’t do this for the state you’d do it for anyone else that would hire you. Most of you don’t have the brains to freelance. I didn’t fall in your trap because you’re not worth the hassle. I learned that lesson a long time ago about wrestling with pigs: always remember that win, lose or draw, the pig is enjoying it.
This has infected all of law enforcement. When Abe Lincoln was president they kept pigs on the White House lawn. Now all of the pigs are over at the FBI and, by extension, the office of special counsel Robert Mueller. What Mueller is doing is fishing and just like officer Beetledick HE’S GOT JACK SHIT. How many more times are we going to discover that they are just making it up as they go along? Rules? What rules? They just do what they fucking please and it goes on. It has to stop. It all has to stop. We have become a police state. This year I only had to get ten minutes in to Independence Day to discover what living in the land of the free is really all about.