One entertaining thing about working as a police officers is that you pick up some funny and weird stories to tell. Of course, some of the events that inspire these stories can leave our sense of humor a little out of whack so maybe the stories are only funny to those who have experienced them. I’ll let you be the judge.
One of the best excuses that I’ve heard arrestees use over the years is “those aren’t my pants”. It’s actually a pretty common one, but it never gets old. I think the first time I heard it was as a relatively new patrol cop working nights in southwest Santa Rosa. I was driving along Sebastopol Road, alert for the criminal activity of ne’er-do-wells when I saw a man riding a bicycle down the street with no lights or reflectors on his bike. He wore dark clothing and was clearly violating the California Vehicle Code and risking his own safety as he pedaled through the night. Aside from that, a minor vehicle code infraction like this could lead to something more, like capturing a wanted fugitive or perhaps taking a weapon or drugs off the street. What young cop wouldn’t want to do that?
I stopped the man and struck up a casual conversation with him, telling him the reason I stopped him and asking his name. I don’t remember if he had a warrant for his arrest, was on probation, or just gave me consent, but I ended up searching the man and found a small bag of methamphetamine in the right front pocket of his loose-fitting jeans. Coin pockets were the first place to look for dope back then. He promptly blurted out, “Those aren’t my pants! I found them in a dumpster and put them on”. After enjoying the soothing clicks of the handcuffs, I made sure the man understood his right to remain silent, etc.
As it usually happens with an arrest, my prisoner and I were able to maintain a friendly and cooperative relationship. Seeing a window of opportunity, I spoke to my new friend as I continued going through his pockets and emptying them of their contents. His pockets were pretty loaded down with stuff, and as I removed each item I asked, “Is this yours? How about this?” Amazingly, my newly restrained friend said he did indeed own each item I asked about. In his back pocket I found a folded section of newspaper. It was a section of the classifieds listing houses and apartments for rent. One particular ad was circled in ink. I asked my friend if the paper belonged to him and if so, why the section was circled. He told me that the paper was indeed his. He was looking for a place to live and had circled the one listing because it looked promising. I had him now, so I responded with a skeptical “Uh huh.”
“So what you’re telling me”, I said, “is that everything in your pockets belongs to you except for the dope, and of course the pants themselves. Is that right?” My new friend paused for a few seconds as if deep in thought and said, “Uh…yeah.” I replied with a friendly, “Ok. I just wanted to make sure I had it right for my report. I’m not sure the judge will buy that story though.” Not surprisingly, I never had to go to court for that arrest. I guess the judge and maybe even his defense attorney were a little skeptical of the “those aren’t my pants” defense after all.