My encounters with cops/Law Enforcement Officers in the US

By | June 23, 2020

As protests, riots, and mayhem wreaked havoc across the US recently because of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota cops, I couldn’t help but remember my days in the US and a few of my encounters with American cops/America’s Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs).

I spent over a decade in the US. Lived in the east coast, the west coast and the mid-west. On quite a few occasions my paths crossed the path of America’s LEOs and American cops.

Cops wearing black vest
Cops wearing black vest

In my over a decade stay in the US, I had 6 encounters with the cops. Of them 3 were wonderful experiences and 3 were not so pleasant. Out of the three unpleasant ones, the one at the Santa Monica Boulevard was the worst, and a really terrifying experience.

A bus stop in San Jose

It was my third week in the US. Didn’t have a car, used to take public transport to work and every place else. So, one Friday, a few of us got together for a small party. Being a Friday, drinks were flowing freely, and we lost track of time. By the time I realized it, it was 9:00 PM already.

A bus stop
A bus stop
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Now, to travel back to my apartment from my friend’s house, I have to take a bus, then a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) train and then finally a short walk to my apartment. So, I quickly have my dinner and start for the bus stop, which would be an easy 5 minute walk from my friend’s apartment. As I hit the main road and proceed towards the bus stop, I notice that the 9:30 PM bus has arrived at the stop almost 10 minutes early and was pulling away. I sprint as fast as I can towards the bus, but…

So, it is around 9:20 PM on a Friday evening, the streets are empty, and I am at the bus stop all alone waiting for the next bus. It was only later that I find out that after 9 PM the frequency of the bus route decreases. The buses on the route run every 1 hour instead of every 30 minutes, after 9 PM. Consequently, at that moment, I wasn’t aware that I would need to wait for an hour or more for the next bus to arrive. I thought that there would be another bus in next 10 or 15 minutes, just like how it is in India.

Now, as I wait for the next bus, I look around me to situate myself. I notice that I am on a sidewalk next to the bus stop. In front of me is a two lane road, and behind me there is a strip mall. A few of the shops in the strip mall are open, outside them I see a few parked cars, and around the cars are quite a few individuals—both males and females. I could hear loud music playing in the cars, along with some chatter and laughter. It seemed to me that the crowd was having a good time.

Bus stop
Bus stop sign on the road
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I didn’t pay much attention to them, just kept waiting for the bus. After a while, I hear someone shout, “Hey man, what do you want?” I thought they were talking among themselves and ignored the question. Next, I hear a honk and somebody flashes the car lights at me and asks again, “Hey man, what do you want?

Instinctively, I look towards the group, wondering to myself why are they talking to me. Then I hear footsteps, and notice a couple of teenagers walking towards me. They are about 15 ft from me, when from my peripheral vision I notice a pair of headlights approaching me. I think it is the bus that I am waiting for and turn my head to look.

It wasn’t a bus, however, but a car. As the vehicle gets closer, I notice that it is a cop car. The cop car slows down and cruises by me slowly. It is as if the cop in the car pauses to take in what’s happening here. Noticing the cop car, the teenagers retreat to the comfort of their group. I notice that the cop car goes past me, halts at a stop light, waits for the light to change, and makes a U-turn. It then slowly cruises down the opposite lane. As it passes by me again, the cop car slows down even further and almost comes to a stop. I couldn’t see the officer inside the car; however, to me it seemed that the officer was looking at me, looking at the crowd of people at the strip mall, and trying to make a decision.

A cop car
A cop car
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Driving down another 10 meters or so, the cop car enters the center left turn lane and makes a left turn into the parking lot of the strip mall. The cop then drives all the way down to where I am standing and parks in one of the vacant parking spaces right next to me. The cop puts the car on park, keeps the engine running, and just sits there. Now, I am standing in a bus stop with a cop car facing me and its two powerful headlights illuminating me. The lights are so bright that I can’t even see past them. I couldn’t even tell how many occupants are there in the car or their sex.

Now, this has me slightly worried. I am wondering, “why did this cop car pull into the parking lot and then come right to where I am standing, and park facing me?” I tell myself I’ll probably find out very soon.

So, I wait and the cop waits.

I wait for the bus and the cop waits for…. I don’t know for what.

Also, I notice that the loud music that was playing has stopped, and the crowd at the strip mall was slowly dispersing.

The cop waits.

I wait.

I look at the cop car a few times, but no activity.

So, I wait.

A parked bus on a snow covered street
A parked bus on a snow covered street
Image by Pexels

Then, I realize that I am carrying a plastic bag. The bag contains a book.

Now, I am thinking whether the cop is watching the bag and wondering what is in it.

So, to eliminate any concerns (s)he might have, I open the bag and take out the book, pretend to browse a few pages of the book, and then put it right back in the bag. The cop(s) was/were probably laughing inside their car knowing very well what I was projecting.

I arrived at the bus stop at around 9:20 PM, the cop car arrived at around 9:35 PM or so.

The bus arrived 10 minutes early than its scheduled time. Around 10:20 PM.

So, from 9:35 PM or so till 10:20 PM or so, I waited for the bus and the cop waited with me. The person did not step out of the vehicle, made no attempts to talk to me or ask me any questions. All the shops in the strip mall closed down at around 10 PM. The road, the strip mall, and the entire area was completely empty except for the cop car with its engine running and its lights on me, and me.

Bus Steering Wheel
Bus Steering Wheel
Photo from Pexels

As the bus arrived at the bus stop and stopped, and the door opened, and I took the first step inside the bus, I looked back at the cop car and noticed that it was already reversing. As the bus started to move, I gave one last look at the cop car and watched it drive away.

Now, was the cop there to watch me or give me company considering it was late in the night and everything was deserted, except for the group of people, of course? I will never know who that cop was, and why (s)he did what (s)he did. I will never know why the cop give me company for close to 45 minutes while I waited for the bus. Was the cop “protecting” me from the group at the strip mall or was (s)he surveilling me? Furthermore, I will never know what the voice meant when it asked, “Hey man, what do you want?” Did they want to know which “product” I was interested in, or did they want to know what was I doing there alone in the night.

Over the years, I have thought about that incident quite a lot trying to connect the dots, and I have come to believe that the cop was there to give me company while I waited for that bus. (S)He probably understood that I did not own a car as I was waiting for a bus late on a Friday night. (S)he also probably knew/recognized that the location was not ideal for someone to wait alone for a bus to arrive. Hence, (s)he decided to pull into the parking lot and wait with me till the bus arrived.

As I said, I will never know who that officer was. However, whoever it was, I send you my thanks for giving me company on that deserted bus stop on a Friday evening two decades ago. Be blessed!

Moral of the story:

Some officers do believe in and practice the Hippocratic oath, ‘To Protect and Serve

Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles

It was December 31, 2000. A friend of mine and I were in LA for the New Year holidays. We spent the day at the Universal Studios Amusement Park. As the evening set in, we decided to go to Venice beach and then go to a bar at Santa Monica Boulevard to usher in the new year.

A woman in an amusement park doing LA hand sign
Image from Pexels

However, by the time we reached Santa Monica Boulevard, it was close to 11 PM. All the bars and restaurants were packed full of patrons and their parking space was overflowing. We drove around for close to 30 minutes, but couldn’t find a parking spot. As we were driving around looking for a parking spot, we noticed empty parking spaces next to a strip mall in a semi-residential area. So, we thought, “Hallelujah, we can park here and then walk to the bar, which was probably a 5-10 minute walk from the strip mall.

The December night had become quite cold by then. So, as we stepped out of our car, I popped open the trunk of the car to get my jacket from the small bag we were carrying. We were also carrying a few bottles of water in the trunk of the car. So, as I am searching for my jacket, my friend was next to me searching for those water bottles, which seemed to have found a place in the trunk to hide. Now, imagine the scene, two people rummaging through the trunk of a car—one looking for a jacket and another looking for a bottle of water.

Police car lights flashing
A police cars with its lights flashing
Image from Pexels

While we were busy rummaging, we didn’t notice a patrol car slowly crawl to a stop behind us. Suddenly, the entire area is illuminated with flashing lights and then we hear a short burst of the police siren. We froze like a deer in a headlight. Without moving an inch, we just turned our head to look at the source of the flashing lights and siren.

Then, everything happened in a blur.

Somebody from inside the car, using the PA system, says, “Be still, don’t move.

Next, the passenger side door opens and out comes a police officer. He wedges himself between the door and car body and points a couple of items at us—one was a flash light and the other was a gun. He repeats the instruction—not to move—again.  Then, the driver side door opens and the second officer steps out, and he too wedges himself between the door and the body. In one hand he has the speaker of the PA system and in the other hand he has a gun pointed at us.

A handgun
A handgun
Image from Pexels

Now, I am looking at my friend and thinking to myself, Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot! Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot! Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot! @#$$**$%$!@#@$!@#^&)*%^$

We didn’t have to wait long for our next instruction, “Take three steps back from the car, and do it very slowly.

We do as instructed.

Now, put your hands behind your head and interlace your fingers.” was the next instruction.


Now, go down on your knees. Very slowly.

Done again.

Cross your legs.

Okay, done.

Now, don’t move.” was the next order.

Then, the second officer steps forward. He goes to my friend first, takes hold of his hands, applies a control hold, turns his hand behind his back, and cuffs them. He is then asked to stand up and made to walk towards the patrol car, pushed face down on the hood of the car and frisked.

His pockets were emptied of everything—his wallet, loose change, handkerchief, phone, etc.

Finally, he was asked to sit on the sidewalk.

Next, I get the same treatment, too. In my case, though, they found a packet of cigarettes and a lighter. To which, I received a free advise that, “Smoking is harmful for you.

I just gave them a blank stare and nodded.

Then, the questions started rolling. Holding our driver’s license, they asked our names and what we were doing in the parking lot of the strip mall, close to midnight.

I probably gave those officers my entire life’s history, starting from the Big Bang and how the Universe was formed to my birth and all the event till that particular date. I hope I didn’t tell them all my secrets.

Anyway, we told them we were from San Jose and we were visiting LA to take part in the New Year festivities. We couldn’t find  a parking space anywhere, and as we were driving around looking for a parking spot, we noticed this empty strip mall and decided to park here and then walk down to the bar; a decision, which in retrospect was probably a wrong one.

They wanted to know our nationality… Indian.

Next, they asked us which company we worked for in San Jose. One of us work for IBM and the other for Cisco, was our response.

An office building
An office building
Image from Pexels

So, understand this. It was the last day of year 2000. The dot com bubble had just burst. IBM and Cisco—the darlings of most investors and speculators—were two of the stocks that had been taken to the woodshed.

So, one of the officers jokingly asks me to tell the CEO of IBM to get his act together as the stock was getting decimated in the stock market. They tell me that both of them own IBM and Cisco stocks in their portfolio, which has seen a significant drawdown.

I still remember my response to him. “Do you want me to do it now or can it wait till I reach the hotel?

It is at this exact moment, I believe, the situation was diffused. Both of them laughed at my response and uncuffed us both.

I then asked the officers what we had done wrong for us to be put in cuffs.

What we learned from them was that there had been a string of robberies in the locality, recently, especially a few shops in the strip mall had been hit really hard. So, there were additional patrolling in the area, considering it was New Year eve.

Now, as they were patrolling the area, they noticed a car parked outside the strip mall with two guys rummaging through items in the trunk. So, they did what any cop would do. Stopped to check what we were doing.

That was okay, but having two guns pointed at us was over the top. No?” was my observation.

To which one of the officers mentioned that they initially thought we were from the south of the border. Basically Mexicans. So, how would they know, as the pulled up, we wouldn’t turn around and come out with guns blazing.

Image from Pexels

I was gobsmacked. What do you even say to that.

Finally, they gave us back our stuff and headed their own way, and we ours.

It is almost two decades since that incident. Even today when I think about that incident I cannot help but wonder whether a sudden erratic move on our part—while the cops had the guns pointed at us—could have gotten us shot and killed.

After all, it was a “perfect case” of wrong place, wrong time, and wrong racial profiling.

Moral of the story:

There are Cops and then there are cops.

Super Bowl Night, 2008

I was involved in a fender bender while driving home after watching the Super Bowl game between The Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals at a friend’s house. It was around 10 PM and the roads were deserted because it was a Super Bowl Sunday. It was my fault that I was distracted for a moment which led to this accident. Nothing major, my car rolled into the car in front of mine while both the cars were at a stop light.

Fender bender
Fender bender
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The cause: my friends had put a few balloons in the rear seat of my car. Those balloons floated their way and lodged themselves against the rear windshield. This was preventing me from keeping an eye on the traffic behind me. This in itself was a traffic rule violation. Hence, while stopped at the stop light, I thought of reaching behind my seat and dislodging those balloons. I should have done that while parked somewhere. However, with a couple of beers in my belly, I am sure I wasn’t thinking clearly. I thought I’ll just reach behind the seat and pull down the balloons.

Bad idea!

The next thing I know my car has rolled forward and hit the car in front of me. I must have taken my foot off the brake as I tried to get to those balloons, or the pressure applied on the brakes wasn’t enough to keep my car stationary.

Cursing and swearing at myself profusely, we pulled into a vacant parking lot and awaited the cops to arrive. And the first cop car was there within a minute or so.  The first cop to arrive at the scene was a very young guy. Looked like he was fresh out of college.

He talked to the couple in the first car to ascertain if they were okay. After determining they weren’t physically hurt, he walked over to me to find out if I am okay or not. I told him I am fine.

Image from Pexels

He wanted to know where I am coming from. “Super Bowl party.

He wanted to know if I had anything to drink. “Yes, a couple of beers. Knew that I had to drive; hence, kept it to two beers.

He then wanted to know what happened. I told him exactly what had happened—”reached behind my seat to pull down the balloons lodged against the rear windshield, which probably led to a reduction of pressure applied to the brake and the car rolled forward to hit the car in front of me.

He then turned around and told me that since alcohol is involved, I’ll have to take sobriety tests. I said, “No problem, I am not drunk.” First, he asked me to count backward from, if I remember correctly, 97 to 83, which I did without a problem. Next, he asked me to do the walk and turn test, which I do successfully.

I knew I was sober. I just made the stupid decision of trying to get to the balloons while the car was not parked.

Finally, he said that he will have to administer a breathalyzer test, which I take. Looking at the result he informed me that he will allow me to go, but I cannot drive my car. I need to spend the night at a friend’s house or a hotel and then pick up my car the next day.

I ask him, “Am I above the legal limit?

He doesn’t answer the question but says, “I can’t allow you to drive. You need to spend the night somewhere and pick up your car tomorrow.

To this day I don’t know if my blood alcohol level had tripped the legal limit with just two bottles of beer. I don’t think it did, as I was perfectly sober. Then, I am really not sure why the officer did not allow me to drive home.

However, if, and a big if, my blood alcohol level was over the legal limit then that cop gave me a lucky break, else I would have been booked as driving under influence (DUI). DUI would have tarnished my driving record and destroyed everything I had worked so hard to build. So, if that cop had indeed given me a lucky break, then, thank you! It was extremely stupid on my part to have tried to dislodge those balloons while the car wasn’t parked and to let the ensuing situation develop. A big duh!

From that day onward, I swore to myself to never drink, not even a sip, and get behind the wheels. And I have kept that promise to this very day.

Moral of the story:

There are good cops, and they may give you a lucky break provided all your stars are aligned properly.

Major Snowstorm; stuck in the middle of the road

A major snowstorm had passed over our area dumping more than a feet of snow. Started for work late, thinking that will allow the plough trucks enough time to clear the snow off major roads and freeways.

Snow covered trees from a snowstorm
Image from Pexels

I was wrong, unfortunately. They were yet to clear the roads I used to take to work.

Left my apartment and started towards the main road. The light was green; hence, didn’t need to stop at the light. Had enough momentum to hit the main road without getting stuck in the snow. Somehow managed to drive through the thick layer of snow and hit the freeway.

The freeway was in a slightly better condition. Yet, it had thick layer of slush, which made it difficult to control the car. Slipped and skidded my way for a few miles and headed for the exit.

The darn light was red. As I approached the intersection, I was willing the light to turn green so that I didn’t have to stop. Stopping meant getting stuck in the thick layer of snow. My car was a rear wheel drive car. Not a great car to drive in the snow. Unfortunately, the light stayed red, and I had to stop at the light.

30 seconds or so later the light turned green. I pressed on the accelerator and all I heard was sound of the rear wheel spinning on the thick snow. The car didn’t move an inch, the wheels just spun on the wet snow. The cars behind me started to honk. I rolled down the window to wave them to go around me.

Cars on snow covered roads
Cars on snow covered roads
Image from Pexels

I waited for the traffic behind me to clear before putting the car on reverse. Pressed the gas lightly and the car moved back by a few inches. Pressed the gas pedal slightly more and the car slid back a few feet more. Then put the car on drive. It crawled forward by a few feet. I pressed the accelerator slightly and it moved forward building some momentum. I slowly built up some speed and barreled towards the intersection. Had to make a hard left at the intersection which was covered in maybe a foot of wet slushy snow. Took that left turn hard, slid sideways, and went a few feet before losing all the momentum and coming to a complete stop right in the middle of the intersection. To make the matter even worse, I was parked diagonally at the middle of a snow covered intersection.

Now, whatever I did the car wouldn’t budge forward or backward even an inch. Stepped out of the car to see how badly it was stuck in the snow. My legs got buried in the snow almost a foot deep. Luckily there was hardly any traffic passing through that intersection. Else, either my car or I would have been hit. Having no other option, I decided to dial 911. The lady who took my call said they aren’t meant to take requests for help for cars stuck in the snow.

I apologized to her for the inconvenience and told her that I wouldn’t have called her if I were stuck on the side of the road. However, I was stuck in the middle of a busy intersection, parked diagonally, and there could be a major accident any moment now. So, she decided to help me and said she will flash my request for assistance to cops in the vicinity. And she did.

Snow Covered Countryside
Snow covered countryside
Image by Pexels

A cop car arrived in the intersection within five minutes. Looking at my situation, the cop said that I may need to call a wrecker to pull me out of the snow or he could use his car to push my car out of the snow. He has padded bumpers which will not damage my car.

I had no other option but to say yes. So, he positions his car behind mine’s and starts to push it gently. Slowly my car starts to move forward. Next, as the car build some momentum, the tires find some grip in the snow and is able to move forward. A little more push and I was moving at around 15 mph.

So, here I am driving down the road with a cop car pushing mine. Next, I hit a patch of road that has been cleared off snow, and my car is able to move on its own power. I drive cautiously for the next couple of miles without stopping as the lights at all the intersections were green, luckily. The officer stayed with me till I reached the lane to my office, before peeling off.

I will never meet the officer who helped me that day or know his name, but I guess a “thank you” is never too late. Thanks officer, whoever you are, for helping me get out of at least a foot of snow. May you be blessed!

Moral of the story:

Your situation may not be a ‘police business’, but they will still come to your assistance.

Not wearing a seat belt ticket

I was returning home after work. It was around 6 PM. Middle of the year. Peak summer. Windows down. Music playing.

I take a left turn at a major intersection and notice a cop standing in the center/two-way left turn lane, monitoring the traffic and stopping violators for jumping the light, speeding, or not wearing a seat belt. For the uninitiated, a center/two-way left turn lane is the middle lane in a two-way street. You use a center left turn lane for making a left turn or, when permitted, a U-turn. The outer lines are marked solid yellow and the inner lines are broken yellow.

Person driving a car
Person driving a car
Image from Pexels

I immediately start checking off items, in my mind, that might flag me as a violator and earn me a traffic ticket. So, I do something like this.

  1. Wearing seat belts. Checked.
  2. Following posted speed limit. Checked.
  3. Slowing down noticing a parked cop car in the middle of the road. Checked.
  4. Changing the lane, traffic permitting, to allow enough distance between my car and the parked cop car. Checked.
  5. Hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2. Checked.
  6. Not on the phone or texting. Checked.

Satisfied that I have done everything by the book and shouldn’t have to worry about anything, I keep on driving. I pass the cop car, go another 100 feet or so, and come to a stop at the light. Then, on my rear view mirror, I notice a cop car pull out of a parking lot and crawl to a stop behind my car.

A few seconds later, the light turns green and I inch forward. Immediately, the lights on the cop starts flashing, and I hear a short siren. The protocol now is to continue driving until you find a safe spot to park. So, I go another 50 feet or so and pull into a parking lot of a bank. The cop car follows me into the parking lot and stops behind my car.

Now, I am absolutely flummoxed as to why I am being pulled over by the cop. I am muttering Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot under my breadth. So, I sit in my car, with my arms visible to the officer and my windows rolled down. The officer walks slowly to my car and asks me do I know why he has stopped me. I tell him I unfortunately don’t. He says, “for not wearing a seat belt.

Seat belts
Seat belts
Image from Pexels

Say what now? “… not wearing a seatbelt?” You’ve got to be kidding me.

I was absolutely gobsmacked by his response and felt like screaming Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot at the top of my voice.

Then, he asks me for my license and registration. I must surely have spaced out, as he had to repeat his request, “Sir, may I have your license and registration.

So, I hand over my license and registration to him and say, “but I am wearing my seatbelt, always do, never drive my car without wearing the seat belt first, as I have seen what happens to those who do not wear a seat belt and get into an accident.

The officer replies, “Sir, I am not going to argue with you. My colleague down the road, whom you just passed, noticed you were not wearing a seatbelt while driving and radioed me that information. Hence, I pulled you over.

I replied, “You mean the officer standing on the center left turn lane monitoring the traffic.

The officer responds, “Yes, him.

I said, “But I was wearing the seatbelt. I don’t know how he could say I wasn’t.

Instantly, his demeanor towards me changed, and he snapped at me, “Are you telling me that my colleague is lying?

I wanted to say, “Yes, he is.” but didn’t.

Because things could escalate really fast if I start arguing with an officer of the law. So, he asks again, “Are you?

That’s when I realized that the best thing to do now is to keep quiet, accept whatever is coming my way, and fight the traffic ticket in the court of law.

A cop car patrolling the city streets
A cop car patrolling the city streets
Image from Pexels

He takes my license and registration, and walks back to his car and 10 minutes or so later comes back and gives me back my license and registration, along with a traffic ticket of $75 dollars for not wearing a seatbelt.


Pardon me for digressing here.

Let me tell you my policy about wearing seatbelts. I have always worn one, always. Seat belt saves lives. No question about that.

I have seen people eject from their car seats for not wearing a seatbelt during an accident. I have heard people describe how they were ejected from the car seat when they met with an accident while not wearing a seatbelt. One person was even ejected from the rear seat. He went flying out of the front windshield. Luckily, he didn’t suffer any major injuries or trauma, and survived the accident.

You will probably find hundreds, if not thousands, of videos on ejection from a car for not wearing a seat belt, on an accident. Even in India, much before the mandatory seat belt law had taken effect, I used to wear a seat belt and not allow anyone to sit in passenger seat without wearing one. People used to laugh at me and say, “This is not America, you are in India, why are you wearing a seat belt.

Image from Pexels

Anyway, back to the anecdote. I was livid after receiving a traffic ticket on a false pretext. Reached home fuming at the cops for lying through their teeth to extract $75 from me. Didn’t understand why they decided to scam me, but they did.

So, I called up a few lawyers after deciding to fight the ticket. Almost all of them were of the opinion that if I were to fight the ticket in a court of law, then, it will be the officers’ word against mine. And if I don’t provide incontrovertible evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that I was wearing a seatbelt, then, the Judge would probably rule against me. So, basically, in order to win the court battle, I would need to have video evidence showing that I was wearing a seat belt when I passed the first officer, the one who dialed his colleague to pull me over. Without that, I will be spending more money, time, and effort fighting this ticket.

So, I decided to cut my losses short and pay the ticket even though I did nothing wrong. The matter didn’t end there, though. Now, since I got a traffic ticket, my insurance company was notified of this transgression and my insurance premium went up because I was suddenly a risky driver.

Double whammy! Argggh!!!

Moral of the story: Good apples, bad apples!

Airport Racial Profiling

I was travelling to India on a vacation. I had a two-hopper to New Delhi. In the first leg, I was flying to Heathrow and then to New Delhi. The security level at the airports in the US was high because of some terror threats from Al Qaeda. Hence, there were cops everywhere.

An illuminated Airport neon sign
An illuminated Airport neon sign
Image from Pexelx

I completed the pre-boarding security check and headed down the jet bridge to board the plane. A small line developed as we got closer to the plane’s door. It was only then that I noticed that we had 5 heavily armed cops standing right outside the plane’s door.

We were all taking short steps towards the plane. Suddenly, my spidey sense started to tingle. A quick check of the passengers in the line told me that, at that moment, I was the only non-Caucasian boarding the plane. Given that fact, I wondered whether I will be picked up for an ‘enhanced’ security check.

We were always told that US cops/LEOs do not indulge in racial profiling and any law enforcement actions are based on facts. So, I told myself, ‘Nah! It’ll all be fine. I am not a threat to anyone. So, nothing to worry about.

10 feet from the plane’s door, a cop approached me and asked me to step out of the line for ‘questioning’.

People inside an airport
People inside an airport
Image from Pexels

The officer who pulled me out of the line asked me my travel destination. I told him about my trip itinerary.

He wanted to know how long I was in the US. I gave him the number of years.

He wanted to know my place of work. I gave him the name.

He asked me about my nationality. I told him that.

He asked when I would return. I gave him a date.

He asked whether I had a green card. I answered in the negative.

He then asked me how I would clear immigration on my return. Advance parole travel document, I answered.

He wanted to see my passport. I handed it over to him.

He wanted to see my Arrival-Departure Record Card. I gave him that.

He wanted to see my driver’s license. I gave him that.

He allowed me to board the plane, only after he had checked all my papers and found that everything was in order. It took close to 25 minutes for him to finish his ‘investigation’.

I asked the officer, as I was putting everything back inside my bag, why he specifically picked me out of all the people in the line. The look he gave me wasn’t a pleasant one. Since, I didn’t want to miss the flight I said, “Never mind I asked you that question. Thank you for doing your job, professionally.” I don’t think he caught the sarcasm.

People boarding a plane
People boarding a plane
Image from Pexels

Since the cop held me up with his myriad questions, by the time I got to my seat, the overhead bins were full. Matter of fact all the overhead bins on my aisle were full. If there is one thing that is really aggravating about airplane travel it is when you don’t have room in the overhead bins to store your carry-on luggage. I had to seek help from the stewardess to store my carry-on bag. She finally found some room for my bag in the business class. Thus, while I travelled economy, my carry-on bag travelled business class.

So, I had that going for me, which was nice!

Moral of the story:

People with skin rich in melanin pigments may face extra scrutiny from some cops. The operative word here is ‘some’.

In conclusion, contrary to what many are claiming today, most cops aren’t monsters or the devil incarnate.

A cop car parked outside a building
A cop car parked outside a building
Image from Pexels

We shouldn’t be throwing the baby out with the bathwater, here. There are many decent cops. They believe in humanity and are there to serve and protect us.

Are there rotten cops in the mix? Abso-freaking-lutely?

However, are there cops who would give their life to protect you and your loved ones? Yes, certainly!

You can bet your life on that!

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