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Trucker Harassed By Reluctant State Troopers

Posted: January 20, 2009 21:39:47 • 465 words

While driving up to Syme's house this evening, for Obama's Inauguration, I flipped on my radio to listen to Virginia State Police, figuring it'd be interesting tonight. Unfortunately, they were fairly over-staffed at that time, so not much to listen to - 6 patrol cars responded to a vehicle "driving erratically", for example.

However, as I approached the Capital Beltway (loop highway surrounding DC, and the point where inbound highways will be closed tomorrow, for those not familiar with the area), I heard a very interesting call. The dispatcher announced a lookout for a semi truck for "possible suspicious behaviour/cargo". Suspicious behaviour calls are always fun to listen to.

A couple of units said they were responding to the area where it was likely to be, and after awhile, another unit (a young guy) broke in with a lot to say. It seems he'd been driving parallel to the truck for about two miles, but since the truck wasn't doing anything noteworthy, he had no probably cause to link it to the APB. After going back and forth with some details to verify that it was, in fact, the correct vehicle, he asked for further details on the call.

Apparently, some girl at a truck stop along I-95 had called this guy in saying that he "looked and acted like a terrorist", and that he smelled like kerosene and fertilizer, and she was concerned about his truck's cargo (implying a potential truck bomb). The dispatcher sounded very incredulous about the call, and the officers talking about it on the radio very obviously didn't want to pull the guy over for this. The talkative young one even said "We can't just pull this guy over for that, we have no probable cause whatsoever".

So, after awhile (and after gaining seven units total following this truck), the trucker got onto the Beltway, and then onto I-395, a highway that basically just runs from the Beltway into DC. The young officer said "Alright, let's inspect this guy's load and get it over with".

Things were quiet on the radio after that. They ran his license and plates (standard procedure for anything), no warrants, all valid. But, right before I reached my destination, they closed the call with this gem:

"We've gone over this driver's paperwork, and inspected his truck and trailer, so we're going to go ahead and clear this as 'unfounded'. No sign of suspicious odors or activity from the driver, no sign of suspicious cargo. Request permission to meet with the caller in person?"

The dispatcher agreed, and that was the last I heard of it over the radio. I feel sorry for that poor trucker, but I have to say I'm glad that officers responding didn't freak out at "omg a brown-skinned truck driver!".