My Town, and My Rights According to Me
How Are They Getting Away With All of This
I live in Ventura, California and I have been concerning myself with what I have seen happening in our streets and wondering how and why it has gotten like it is. I know that some of what I have seen is not right and certainly is a violation of our rights as citizens of this land.
Not only have I seen the rights of others get stomped on, but on several occasions my rights have gotten violated too. Let me give you some examples, and then you all can give me your opinion as to whether I am way off my rocker, or if people are being taken advantage of and our police department is way out of control.
- A good friend of mine was driving down my street, just having left here, and about two or so blocks away noticed the dreaded blue lights blinking in her mirror. She pulled over, and the officer walked up to her window and asked for her license and proof of insurance. She produced them and he walked to the rear of her car. When he came back, he told her that she was to get out of her car please. When she asked why, he told her that he smelled what he thought to be the smell of marijuana in her car. She told him that that was ridiculous that she did not smoke. Step out of the vehicle now please. he insisted. She got out and he said he wanted to frisk her to make sure she had no weapons for her protection and his. Having done that, he told her to take a seat on the curb. She was beginning to get scared. She asked him what was going on and what was going to happen. He told her to stay seated, and keep her hands in view, not to touch er pockets, and that he was going to search her car. When she told him he couldn't do that, he stated that he had probable cause because of the smell of pot in her car. He then took the next 20 minutes tearing her car apart, and he had two other police cars join him in doing so. They finally came back to where she had been sitting, and told her to stand up and put her hands behind her back. They arrested her for driving with an open container. They had pulled several beer cans from the back seat floor board where her kids had put about 20 or 30 cans because they were collecting them. When she asked them what they had pulled her over for, they said that her tail light was out, but it wasn't out after that,and they did not give her a ticket. It took her four days to get out of jail, for they arrested her on Friday and she didn't go to court until Tuesday. It turned up as a missing complaint in court and they released her.
- A homeless fellow that I know that camps in what is called the river-bottom, was walking up our main street here. A police car was passing by him, saw him and pulled a U turn and stopped him. He said to them, what do you want? They contended that he fit the description of someone they were looking for that had committed a burglary. They proceeded to go through his backpack, and frisked him. In his backpack they found a three syringes, brand new. He told them that he was diabetic. They said "yeah right, and so is my grandmother" and arrested him for paraphernalia. They told him to take proof that he was to court, which he could not do because he was in jail. Again, it was a "missing complaint", but because he had police contact, his probation officer violated him and he ended up doing 3 months in the county jail.
- My brother in law got pulled over and asked for his license. He didn't have one with him he told them. They ran his name, and it came back that his license had been suspended. He was unaware of this, and said he had never gotten any notification of this. He was arrested anyways, and when he got out three days later, they had searched his truck, left it unlocked and his built in toolbox open in the back of his truck. Again, it came up in court as a missing complaint.
It Is Harrassment
For a period of time of about six months, my oldest son became homeless. He was on probation for a drunk driving that he had gotten about a year and a half before, and he was in the middle of doing classes for it. During this time, the city police realized that he had no address, and so they decided that my house was going to be the place they assumed they would stand the best chance of finding him.
He wasn't staying with me at all, for I was living in a senior only complex, and I told them that the very first time they came to my door looking for him. I told them that they should go and ask his probation officer what address he had listed with them, and go there to look, for at this time I had no idea where he was staying. I knew that he had not put my address down for sure. The very next day they came to my door again, insisting that they had a right to search my place because he had a warrant for his arrest, for a failure to appear in court. I told them again that if they did not have a warrant for my house they were not going to search it.l I started to close the door, and one of the officers put his foot in the door blocking me from shutting it. The next thing I knew, they pushed their way in the door, and four officers came barging in and they tore my whole house apart. I asked them why they were looking in cupboards and drawers if they were looking for my son, for he is very big, and definitely would not fit in any cupboards. They ignored me, continued searching for at least an hour. When they left they let me know that if I did not co-operate in helping them find him, that they would be back, and would tear up my house as often as they felt like it They didn't think anything about trying to force me into doing their work for them, and also told me that the next thing they would do is to arrest me for something if I didn't wise up.
One of their favorite tricks around here is to pull over cars telling them that they have a license plate light that doesn't work,and from there they will ask the driver permission to search their vehicle. If the driver says no, I don't have to let you search my car, they come back with "if you do not have anything illegal, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. You must be carrying drugs or guns or something." They keep applying pressure with that logic until the driver is so uncomfortable with being made to feel like they were hiding something that they finally give in and let them search. Nine times out of ten they will find something, and I cannot prove this, but feel that at times they plant things on innocent people.
One of the reasons that they are getting away with this outrages behavior is because this county does not have any watchdog groups to help keep them in check. As it is right now, when you go to court to fight whatever alleged crime you have been accused of, it is your word against the word of anywhere from one to four officers. Now you tell me who is going to be believed?
This has got to be stopped, for I feel that I am not safe, in that I feel that I will be stopped and harassed even if I am walking. I have been forced to stop driving because of all this. It go so bad that every time I pulled out of my driveway, there was a cop behind me, so I quit driving altogether. I feel like there is very little I can do, and most everyone that I know around here do not want to become involved for they feel like they will be targeted. They are probably right.
If anybody has any ideas of things I can do to help stop this harassment, please let me know in the comment box, I am open for suggestions.