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by Peter Moskos

February 12, 2008

How not to get my ass kicked by the police

Last night I was stopped by police. It was about 1AM on the coldest night of the year and I was biking back from work. I needed some groceries and passed an unfamiliar grocery store. I went up on the sidewalk to look inside, trying to decide if it was worth my while to buy some stuff or wait till I got back to a store with a familiar layout.

I was stopped in front of the store, figuring this out, when po-po pulls up next to me. The passenger side window rolls down and a man asks, “Do you have ID?” “Sure,” I say almost happily. Given my cop background and professional interests, I actually kind of like being harassed by police. I’m good at talking to cops. Don’t play dumb. Don’t lie. Don't act pissed off (even if you are). Don’t say, “don’t you have anything better to do?!”

Does he think I’m looking for drugs in the projects across the street? Does he think my balaclava means I’m going to rob the store? Or is he just going to bust me for being on the sidewalk or not having a bell? I give him my work ID.

He looks at my ID for a moment and says, “We stopped you for riding on the sidewalk. You know that’s not allowed?” It was 20 degrees out. At 1AM. In Queens. But I put on my sheepish face. “Yeah, I know it’s not allowed. But I just wanted to look in this store and figured you wouldn’t care because it’s ten below out. I’m sorry.” My tone was nice, conversational, even respectful. We actually exchanged some pleasantries and then they left. I continued to break bike laws all the way home.

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