Do you know why I pulled you over?
June 27, 2009 7:29 AM   Subscribe

I got pulled over by a cop. I wasn't speeding, nor was I driving erratically. P.S - My passenger was standing up with his torso out of the sunroof.

So he asks for ID, and goes through with the checks. He returns saying that he's going to let us off. He also made a note of the following, for both, my passenger and I.

Place of Birth
Eye colour
Clothing Description
Facial Hair
Any Tattoos or Piercings?
Phone Number

So what's the deal? Is this being recorded somewhere? Was I given a warning (He didn't literally say anything along the lines) ?

I'm thinking this was just him entering it into his log for the night.

Please shed some light

Anonymous just cause I'm paranoid.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Reckless driving. Having a person with the majority of their body outside the car is, most likely, what the cop considers driving eratically. Reckless endangerment as well.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:31 AM on June 27, 2009

Er, the question wasn't "why was I pulled over."

I assume he jotted things down for a log of some sort, so that if you got pulled over say, later that evening doing the same stuff, you weren't going to get off with a warning the second day.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:37 AM on June 27, 2009

Part of the reason for their procedure on a pull-over is that it takes time, and that is implicitly a small punishment for the person being pulled over. That's especially true for speeders, but it's going to be true for anyone.

Which is to say, the reason he did all those things is because you didn't like them, and that sets up a deterrent which has at least some chance of preventing you from repeating the activity the cop didn't approve of.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:48 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

My understanding, which comes largely from mystery novels, is that, in addition to taking bribes and shooting people and whatnot, police work also includes a lot of paperwork and documentation. The officer was probably just taking notes for his TPS report. Additionally, this kind of interaction gives him a little bit more time to determine if you're drunk, glance around the car to make sure your pit bull didn't spill your coke on your machine gun, etc.
posted by box at 7:48 AM on June 27, 2009 [4 favorites]

This is complete speculation drawn from watching police-procedural shows like Dexter and Bones, but aren't most serial killers and other bad guys caught eventually because they get pulled over or whatever for something stupid and the cop takes down a description and later takes it back to the shop (or the office, or precinct or whatever they call it for real) and some (inevitably hot) assistant or whatever is like:

"ZOMG, you just pulled over the GORMAGICETRUCK SLAUGHTERER!"

And the nice thing is that now they have the license plate, so they can put out a thingy - APB? - for that license and then they have CAUGHT the cereal killer.

posted by bunnycup at 7:52 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

1. he let you off without a citation

2. he was noting body characteristiscs so that when passenger shows up mutilated, they can more easily identify the body. They did both of you because people take turns.
posted by rr at 8:03 AM on June 27, 2009 [11 favorites]

Kind of following box's theme - read about the murder of Paul Stine. It was a huge black eye for the police despite them acting appropriately based on the information they had. The police (like anyone else) aren't really into huge black eyes, and so they tend to take careful notes in case they find out that there is reason to suspect that you or your friend are the I-Ching Killer, the Radiesthesia Strangler or Tasselography the Knife.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:07 AM on June 27, 2009

I'm inclined to agree with craven...if you got pulled over again, you weren't going to get away with a warning.

As an aside, about 20 years ago I was pulled over for the same thing (my buddy stood up through my t-tops to snap a picture) and I was ticketed for reckless driving. Consider yourself fortunate.
posted by JaredSeth at 8:11 AM on June 27, 2009

In certain jurisdictions, police officers are required to record demographic data. It’s one of the tactics against racial profiling. It may be impolitic to ask about race, so the designers of the program might have thought that race could be derived, at least to a statistically acceptable extent, from place of birth plus physical characteristics plus additional notes the officer recorded.
posted by ericc at 8:23 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

When he pulled you over, he called dispatch to tell them he was pulling over [make/model/plate number of you car] + [number of people and basic descriptions of same in the car]. He has to have a record of what he did, and since he didn't ticket you he took that information, for some or all of the reasons above.
posted by rtha at 8:45 AM on June 27, 2009 [2 favorites]

I would say he is keeping your info on file - including the demographic info. If you ever get caught doing something in that jurisdiction, the cops will remind you of this incident.

If you never get caught doing anything else in that jurisdiction, then you have nothing to worry about.
posted by Flood at 10:59 AM on June 27, 2009

Standard procedure. He checked you out for DL, wants & warrants & when you came back clean he let you off with a warning. Consider yourself s lucky.
posted by patnok at 11:32 AM on June 27, 2009

He's perhaps particularly good about doing the requisite paperwork...and was trying to scare you into not doing it again.
posted by desuetude at 11:39 AM on June 27, 2009

People who commit crimes tend to not be the brightest or most subtle folks you'll meet. So when a cop sees someone doing something not terribly bright or subtle, like hanging out the sunroof, they want to check you against any other crimes that may have been committed in your area.

When they're asking for things like your phone number they want to see if you're evasive and are trying to hide anything. If you're from out of town they may query your hometown's law and see if there's anything you might be wanted for.

And later in the night when you two rob a liquor store, they'll have all the info.
posted by Ookseer at 12:10 PM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wisconsin has proposed that local police record the race of every person they stop for any reason. This followed a pilot program in Madison that found that blacks were being ticketed for traffic violations three times as much as their population would seem to warrant.

Anyway, yes, they typically check for priors. No priors and you may be let off with a warning.
posted by dhartung at 1:34 PM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Same thing happened to me, similar reckless driving incident. I too wondered if we were in some sort of database somewhere, because they wrote down our addresses. But then I figured... they were scaring us, I mean, trusting people to digitize information? I am doubtful whatever he wrote made it off that white paper pad into a system somewhere. Either way I'm a more upstanding citizen nowadays, so it doesn't matter. Thanks to Flood for reassuring that we have nothing to worry about.
posted by beingresourceful at 7:15 PM on June 27, 2009

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