We have been socialized to trust law enforcement to help us when we are in need. The government equips its officers with badges and guns and gives them the authority to act on behalf of the people. But what happens when they abuse that authority?
Imagine you and your spouse are driving on I-90 to visit a family member out of state. You forget to signal a lane change and the next things you see are the flashing red and blue lights of a Montana Highway Patrol cruiser. The trooper seems nice enough at first, but you notice him looking in your back windows at the fast food wrappers from your lunch earlier in the day that you haven’t had a chance to throw away yet. The trooper splits you and your spouse up and begins peppering you with questions over and over again: Where do you live; where are you going; when do you plan to get there; are there drugs in the car; and so on. Then he asks for consent to search your car. This whole thing is beginning to feel wrong so you tell him, “No.” By this time, the stop has taken 30 to 40 minutes of your time. Then the K-9 unit appears. The dog makes two circles around your car. You don’t notice anything about the dog’s behavior, but the trooper assures you the dog “hit” on your car and that you need to stop lying to him and consent to a search. You still refuse. Another fifteen minutes pass before a tow truck arrives and hitches your car up. You realize that your wallets and cell phones are still in the car, but the trooper does not allow you to retrieve them. The tow truck and trooper leave you standing on the side of the road with no money and no way to get help.
If this has happened to you, I want to know so we can do something about it.
· Police dog bite, Livingston, Montana
· Illegal stop and arrest, Flathead County, Montana
· Excessive force, Cascade County, Montana
· Obtained suspension of unconstitutional school dress code, Dillon, Montana