In a fascinating NYT article on overzealous marijuana policing in New York City, I found this rather revealing passage:
“I came out of the building, and this unmarked car, no light, no indication it was police, was right on me,” said the man, a Latino who asked that his name not be used because he was concerned about his job. “Right on my tail. An officer got out, he said, ‘I saw you walking from that building, I know you bought weed, give me the weed.’ He made it an option: ‘Give me the weed now and I will give you a summons, or we can search your vehicle and can take you in.'”
He opened the console and handed them his marijuana — making it “open to public view.”
“I was duped,” he said. But the deception was legal, and his pot wasn’t.
The officers escorted him in handcuffs to the unmarked car.
Amazingly, police must actually trick citizens into displaying their marijuana in order to make an arrest, since New York’s marijuana decrim law requires plain view discovery. NYPD officers have become quite adept at initiating this through the typical threats and coercion that have long been the hallmark of petty drug war police practices.
It’s a terrific, yet disturbing, example of how police can intimidate citizens into incriminating themselves. As always, the best strategy is to ignore incriminating questions and ask if you’re free to go. After all, cooperating with police who are trying to arrest you just might get you arrested.