Diary of Police Encounters
- Each encounter is beneficial in that I learn how to respond to the next inevitable encounter.
- The following is just a factual statement that is not intended to put down police, but rather identify a situation that will improve with time: Currently police drive around in fossil fuel burning vehicles that harm citizens by polluting the air which contributes to respiratory illnesses and other environmental disasters and causing stressful noise pollution and contributing to overcrowded roadways. Hopefully they switch to eco vehicles.
- I have never been fined or detained.
INCONSISTENCIES (time, step out order): June 21, 2018 - Olema, California / Point Reyes National Seashore: I overnight parked in a good pull-out all night long, no problem, but since my dog woke me up several times, I slept in until at 8:10 AM a park ranger softly knocked on my door and tole me to step out which is the first time any officer told me to step out; usually the opposite: They get alarmed if I step out, so that is very inconsistent with other police forces. This is a most odd time for "the knock" which is usually from 10pm to 3am; Extremely rarely this late in the morning. He ran my plates and said they were expired. I have heard this before. My plates are permanent, so there is no expiration date. He warn me I can't camp in the state park. I proceeded to the nearby visitor's center and saw the same ranger tell someone in a Class B van not to overnight park there. It was then apparent he was bluffing; acting like he knew I was parked there overnight when he didn't.
ALARMING (entry) & ODD: June 17, 2018 - US Navy Post Graduate School (controlled access), Monterey, California: After showing privilege card to Sergent sentry, he asked "Do you mind opening your back doors?". He said it was for a precaution due to large vehicle size. This is the first time out of about 75 times I've entered military bases over the past few years. I asked him if I can spend the night in my vehicle somewhere on campus. He said yes, by the baseball fields (plural). I noticed only one baseball field and parked there. I noticed a mixed vehicle (including a few RVs and vans) lot between the baseball field and police station. There was a sign at the entry that said permission is needed to park here with a phone number. I called the number and heard an unintelligible answer. I explained I wish to park there and sleep in vehicle at night. He asked what kind of vehicle I had and I paused for a few seconds to say "small motorhome" and he got angry I didn't answer faster and said for me to come to the front gate, said "out" and hung up. I didn't know what gate he was talking about (main campus gate? police station gate?). At 10:30PM, security forces lieutenant Blauel alarmingly (illegally without a warrant, emergency or probable cause) opened my driver's side door (first time anyone has ever done that without permission). I told him I had permission to sleep in my vehicle and he said not allowed except this one night. He asked for my IDs, registration and insurance. He said it's not registered in my name, but wouldn't give any details. My insurance card was expired and I said I can print a new one in under five minutes, but he said he's not going to wait that long. Then he began to chit chat for five or so minutes. At first he treated me like a detained criminal, then he let off well and was nicer and said I can stay this one night. I asked him what time do I need to leave the campus? He said I can be here anytime I want, but can't be a vehicle resident. It was very odd!!! he didn't seem to care further that the vehicle didn't show up in my name, but was most concerned about who told me I could sleep in my vehicle and when they told me that. I said I can find out the time via my dashcam. He gave me his phone number to let him know.
EVADED X2: June 17, 2018 - Monterey, California: While street parking overnight on Virgin Avenue at Laguna Grande Regional Park, at exactly (June 17) midnight I heard some people talking loudly behind me where an old, junky Class C RV was also overnight parking with a person sleeping inside against city ordinance. I looked in my side mirror and saw police spotlights on the RV. I quickly started up, backed off my leveler, put leveler inside and took off slowly (not in a fleeing manner) to avoid possibly being next in line for questioning and/or a fine. This blew my cover, so I can't go there anymore. I went a few miles somewhere else and when I woke up in the morning noticed I was parked along a pink (faded red) fire lane.
MIXED: April 30th, 2018 - Vandenberg Air Force Base (Lompoc), California: Didn't take long for an MP encounter upon arriving! I arrived first at their Wall Beach to enjoy the sunset an hour before sunset. After walking for a half hour, I noticed a solo MP walking towards me on the beach. I assumed he was just there to enjoy the beach because usually they don't pursue problems alone, but he said he's closing the gate and wants me to leave. I asked him what time the beach closes and he said sunset. I looked at him like he's doing something bad... a party pooper. We walked back to the parking lot together during which time he asked me questions such as which branch of service, my job, why I'm there, where I live, etc. He asked in a friendly way, so I answered. He also suggested I check out Minuteman Beach as a friendly gesture.
GOOD: March 26th, 2018 - Brookside Park, Redlands, California: I have been parking during the day and evening in this park about five times over the course of about ten days. Around 8:30PM someone called the police claiming I've spent several nights there which is a lie. There was one time a week prior I spent one night on the street, not in the park. Two patrol SUVs pulled up to my vehicle while I was walking my dog. They were shining lights on the rear of the vehicle looking it over. I explained to the police they should interrogate whoever called due to lying to the police and wasting their resources as there is no cause just because I have a large vehicle (bad thing happen in small vehicles). I spoke with several officers a few minutes and the conversations were good and friendly. I was quite a bit more blunt with them than any officers before. I think I felt a lot more in control approaching them on the outside by surprise (it's nerve wrecking and fear-inducing to hear the unexpected knock while inside). They only asked for my name and DOB after asking for ID (which I didn't have on me). They said the locals are paranoid about any homeless moving into the area. I seemed quite defensive and one officer said not to take it personally.
GOOD & ALARMING: March 25th, 2018 - Moreno Valley Community Park, Moreno Valley, California: I called the police on two sedans with people in them smoking pot heavily. The response time was very quick (good): Only about two minutes. They both got booted from the park from a first officer. A second officer arrived shortly after the first left. I thought that was the first one making sure they left. I asked the officer in person if they want me calling in such instances and he said yes anytime anything looks suspicious. I said I don't want to waste any of their resources and he said if they are too busy they won't respond. I laughed. This seemed to be a second officer because he asked me which vehicle I called about and didn't seem to realize another officer already booted two vehicles out. This is alarming because of how the two officers and dispatch have a serious communication problem.
GOOD: March 14th, 2018 - San Bernardino (extreme southwest area), California: I took a chance to park in an abandoned parking lot. A security guard knocked on my door at midnight and said it's a bad idea because there are lots of criminals in that area and it's private property. He did not ask any questions other than why I was there which is unusual (I just said I was resting). Right around this time I realized for sure parking lots are often less preferable over street parking as public parking (street) is highly preferable over private (lots). I had been avoiding street parking due to more instances of traffic noise, but I'm getting much better at this by targeting street parking on short or dead end streets, especially those that run along a park rather than houses, but never in a park parking lot although that would be ideal, it's scarcely allowed. A few days later I toured the other areas of San Bernardino and was very discouraged how run down it is.
SHOCKING: February 28, 2018 - March AFB, California (Far East LA): I was in the gym parking lot replacing a tail light that had plastic tabs needed for install that break easy. I threw away the old tail light in a recycling bin and then thought about some of the old plastic tabs that were still good should be retracted in anticipation of more breaking. Upon reaching in to remove the tabs from the recycling bin, someone coming out of the gym called the police on me for "looking through dumpsters". The officer asked if that was me and I said yes and explained. He said to the effect of OK and left, but then quickly came back because his command wanted both my military and drivers license IDs checked as well as vehicle registration. The officer's radio malfunctioned and he got so angry he threw hard on the parking lot and plastic parts broke off and were scattered. He was using vulgar language in frustration about both his radio and how his boss or dispatcher was requiring him to investigate me when I did nothing wrong. This angry officer was armed with a lethal weapons. I felt my life was in increasingly in danger. The officer apologized to me several times and shook my hand several times. I believe he was frustrated for being forced to interrogate/investigate/interrupt an obviously innocent person. This was definitely a case where they were in the wrong, not me, far worse than even if I was looking through trash for something to take that I didn't throw away. There isn't supposed to be anything sensitive in the trash (shredded or destroyed first). I could have reported the officer, but was emphatic because I recall being similarly frustrated under the direction of others and having failed equipment and he apologized frequently. I would have reported him if I got the feeling he was angry at me. That could seriously jeopardize his career. This story is in compliance because it doesn't disclose sensitive details, images, video or audio which is what I would do if outside the base.
GOOD: November 16, 2017 - Haypress Campground / Tennessee Valley Trailhead, California (near Golden Gate Bridge): FreeCampsites.net stated this was a place that allows free overnight parking. A national park ranger knocked on my vehicle around 9PM to tell me otherwise, so I drove south to a rest area that allows overnight parking, but it was jam packed with not a single place to park, so I found a spot in a small shopping center in Portola Valley. It appeared to be peaceful when I arrived, but late in the night it was very noisy.
GOOD: October 1, 2017 - Sutherland, Oregon: When inconspicuously parked in a park, Officer Nelson wanted to make sure I wasn't hiding or camping. He asked for my ID, asked where I'm from and why I'm there.
GOOD: August 28, 2017 - Manzanita, Oregon: While parked at a city park just barely after sunset, a city officer just wanted to let me know I can't sleep in the vehicle there, which I wasn't. I asked him some questions and learned a few things such as on Google Maps city boundaries are shown and it's better to boondock in the county when in doubt. Also I learned he has the authority to write citations in state parks which I thought was only possible by park rangers. He said park rangers can't write citations.
MIXED: June 4, 2017 - Shelley, Idaho: While parked only 15 minutes behind a closed Camping World store in the afternoon, two local police vehicles pulled behind me. An officer loudly knocked on my door (a "you're in trouble" kind of knock). A female officer asked a few standard questions and requested my ID. I showed her a government issued photo ID, but she requested one with more sensitive info such as DOB. I said OK as long as it's not documented. She took it to her car to check my background. She said I can stay there one night since I checked out OK. Apparently these police weren't aware that Camping World allows boondockers as their store wasn't there very long. By far most police allow it even if against city ordinance. A separate male officer, M.E. Curnutt (handed me his card), said there's a campground nearby. I explained I tried to find it, but my app was wrong. He followed me to make sure I found it OK. He was the friendliest and most helpful officer. We had some conversations.
BAD: April 14, 2017 - Hurricane, Utah: Walked my dog in a neighborhood where I stayed on the sidewalk and he occasionally rested on the edge in someone's grassy yard. A neighbor asked me a lot of personal questions and I said none of her business. She called the police. A k-9 officer arrived and asked me: How long I plan on staying in the area, where am I parked, where am I from, where do I live, why am I here, my name and DOB. I answered all the questions, but was hesitant on the DOB. He said he was just going to verify where I'm from. This is the point I realized how to respond next time: "The person who called the police is the wrongdoer for calling in a false emergency and thus wasting tax payer money and police resources as I didn't do anything illegal." I was walking on a public sidewalk that I partly pay for with taxes collected from goods and services I purchase in the area.
BAD: March 29, 2017: Cornerstone Park, Henderson, Nevada: Tested to see if could boondock, heavy knock at 2:30am by police asked for name, SSN and DOB, checked my background, just said park is closed from midnight to 6am. Now that they see I'm clean, they should have let me stay for added security! but closed minded government workers don't think that way. This gave me an idea to place a logo on my vehicle "Added Security". I wouldn't be posing as a business, but rather the literal meaning of the words. Another idea on how to respond to any unreasonable questions is "private citizen information". If asked what I'm doing, I respond "a legal private citizen activity". I rate this as bad because I should have been left a warning note rather than woke up.
BAD: Jan. 2017: Escondido, California city police woke me up at 3am for parking near IHOP private parking lot, said fine could be up to $300.
BAD: Mid 2016: Sequim State Park, Washington: Ranger lied to me stating I arrived before allowed open time.
BAD: Mid 2016: Canadian border in Vermont: Two Canadian agents thoroughly searched my Sprinter for over an hour looking for a gun. A third agent looked through all my files I had. This is further documented in my general diary.
BAD: Mid 2015: Warrenton, Oregon City Police: Responded to a call I was camping along side library. I had permission to use library wifi. Police looked in van (had door open) and said I was camping because he saw a bed. I complained to him and his chief.
BAD: Late 1989: U.S. Border patrol coming in from Alaska via Canada: Agents removed everything from my car (was packed to the ceiling with everything I owned). I had to put everything back; big mess.
BAD: Early 1989: Slept in 1983 Volvo 240DL along California coast: Police tapped loudly on my window with flashlight around 3am. Was on my way to Alaska for new duty.