Gesticulations and Other Geekery » Archive of 'Nov, 2013'

I got pulled over tonight

So first, I never post. I will not apologize for this, because hey it’s my blog. But yea.

Anyway, I thought I should document this because it was interesting and slightly stressful. Tonight at about 11pm I was pulled over by the Austin PD. I was riding my bike along Great Northern Blvd (which sounds big, but it just a little side street), and a cop turn on their siren behind me (as usually it took me a minute to realize they where trying to get me to stop). It turned out that they were looking for some one who (I roughly quote) was white riding a bicycle and was wearing dark clothing. I did match that description. The person they were looking for had allegedly been trying car doors (it seems they call thing “looking for a lick”). The first cop of very nice and just took my ID and went to call it in. He asked me what I was doing I told him I was going home and he said I didn’t seem to match the profile (what with my powerful lights and pannier and helmet and biking cleats and all that). Another cop came up and asked the same questions and I answer again. And said I matched the description: white, white shirt, heavy set (it makes me sad, but he’s not wrong). He pointed out that I matched the description to a T (and was not nearly as nice as the first guy). The interesting bit was the white shirt. Because between talking to the first guy and the second I had taken off my dark blue sweat shirt to reveal a white tee-shirt. Which tell me that they where making up the descriptions based on what I was wearing at that moment: The description changed from “dark” to “white”. I suspect all they had was “riding a bike”.

On one hand I’m worried this is profiling against cyclists. However if all they had was “riding a bike” I cannot blame them for stopping me and asking about it. BUT, I really wish they had been honest and just said “we are looking for someone riding a bike who was XYZ“. Also I thought it was odd that they implied I was the only bike in the area, which was simply not true; I had seen another cyclist going the other way a few minutes before. So I’m gonna look up the police report when it shows up online in a day or so and see what they really reported. It might be interesting.

Oh and the neighborhood around there is quite rich. Which is probably why there where 3 cops (and several others who passed me) involved in pulling over one cyclist who was suspected of trying car doors. Though there was also a fire truck which went by while I was stopped. Exciting night in that little neighborhood.

Posted in Biking, Law and Politics