Police Magnet?

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I don’t know if I am putting out a certain pheromone that is attracting police or what, but I have seemed to have more than my share of contact recently. Twice the last two nights.

Last weekend, a neighbor, a block away, had his dog shot and killed, at 3am, during an attempted burglary. Bromont knew the dog. The police took the situation seriously, as they should, and did the forensics, etc. associated with an attempted armed robbery.

So, two nights ago, I took Bromont out for a walk to a park a couple blocks away and a police car came up and asked me what I was doing. I told the officer that I was walking my dog and she seemed okay with the answer, even though I was kind of nervous that I didn’t have him on a lease.

So, last night, around 11:30pm, I was doing the same walk, mainly because the night before, our, sort of, cat, Lilly, came crawling down a tree and walked with us. We hadn’t seen Lilly for nearly two weeks and I thought he was gone for sure. It turns out that he must of just moved in with someone else, because he has gained a ton of weight and seemed healthy. I brought him home, put some revolution for ticks, mites, etc. on him and sent him on his wandering ways.

So, I was just getting to the park and a car, like a Ford Taurus or something pulls up really slowly. I’m not paying too much attention to it until a spot light hits me and I hear this shout, “Hey, what are you doing there?” I said something like “Excuse me?” Right then a Ford Explorer pulls up behind the other car.

So, a police officer gets out of the first car and shouts the same thing again. I say, “Sorry sir, I didn’t realize you were a police officer. I’m just walking my dog.” He comes walking over towards me kind of aggressively and says he doesn’t see any dog or something like that. I whistle and Bromont comes over with his flashy light on his collar blinking. Two more police, a male and female officer have came over and spread out behind me.

The situation stayed too tense for my liking, so I say something like, “Is this how courteous you are normally with your interactions?” Maybe not exactly that, but something implying he was being pretty impolite.

He says something like he came driving by, saw me hiding in the shadows and looked suspicious. I say something like, “Hiding in the shadows, I’m standing under a street light.” He says, “Whatever.”

So, it seems he realizes that I’m what I say I am and starts to leave, but the female officer shines her light into the park at Lilly, who has appeared. I say, “That is my cat Lilly, he is walking with us.”

That simple sentence seemed to set the first guy off again. He comes walking back saying something like he doesn’t have to take this shit. I say, “what shit”. He goes into a rant about mouthing off about the cat, on and on. I say, “Hey, that is my cat and he is walking with us.” It wasn’t meant to be anything other than explaining the cat to the other officer, who was shinning her light at him.

So, then it is, “Do you have any ID on you?” I say no. “Name and address?” I say, Steve. Tilford. Then to my surprise, he says “You’re that world famous mountain bike racer.” I say yes, I ride bikes. He completely changes his demeanor. But, the female cop isn’t so easily convinced. She’s asking me how to spell my name and my birth date, etc. So, one guy wants to talk and the other is still being official police person and is running warrants. The third guy never said a word.

I ask if I can go and he says sure. I walk off and they sit there a bit and eventually drive off.

I don’t really have any problem with the police making sure my neighborhood is safe. But the problem I had with the encounter is after all the identities were established, the tone of the situation never got polite or to a normal conversation. It stayed in the intimidation mode until I was “recognized”.

I think I’m a pretty normal guy. I don’t think there was ever a mistaken identity here, that I was the burglar they were searching for. I am just lucky I’m a white guy that happened to live in the neighborhood. I can’t imagine what I would have encountered if I was a Hispanic or black man just walking to the grocery store down the road. It didn’t go all that well for me.

13 thoughts on “Police Magnet?

  1. WildCat

    Yep – Skinny and long hair. They probably thought you were a KU student and were looking for drugs. Wear more K-State purple and cops will assume you’re just a good ole Kansas boy. When they stop you they’ll simply want to shoot the shit about how the wheat harvest was and such.

  2. MarkT

    I’m not saying you said or did anything wrong in above incident. I know how easy attitude is conveyed from both parties.

    Things go better when you’re able to listen very well and answer with the information they want, not just justifications or what they consider attitude.

    If you want to do verbal judo with cops then it’s best to let them completely show you what they’ve got (listen) before you open your mouth and get body-slammed.

  3. Hudson Luce

    Looking back on this, I don’t think you were a “cop magnet” here, I think the cops were running a stake-out or something. You live in a pretty high profile neighborhood, lots of money, etc. and there was a burglary where a dog was shot and killed at 3am during an attempted burglary. The shooter could have killed the homeowner or other people and is still at large, no description of suspect… so you come along, you say you’re walking your dog but there’s no dog… and they think they may have their guy, so they make ready to take you down, just in case. From that standpoint, what they’re doing is reasonable. Then one of the cops recognizes you – and they’re all frustrated they haven’t got the guy. So what may be happening with all the attitude is that they’re blowing off a bit of steam. The best thing to have done is to talk with the cop who recognized you as a bike racer about bike racing and such and just play it cool. The female cop was probably feeling stupid and trying to cover it up by putting on a hyper-masculine show, this happens a lot with female cops.

  4. Neil Kopitsky

    Simple explanation on the female cop’s behavior after you gave your name: She was a cyclist herself and was in on the ruse that, whenever a cop stops you, you give them the name of a famous cyclist. Lord help the real Andy Hampsten if he ever gets pulled over, dude probably has thousands of minor traffic violations under his name. (I think it might have even been in the USCF rulebook they mailed with your license back in the day.) Anyway, she figured you were some Cat. 4 up to no good and just using “Steve Tilford” to throw the cops off.

  5. tilford97 Post author

    So, to follow up on the story, around noon today, my doorbell rang and it was the police officer I mentioned above. He stopped by to apologize to me and say that he was completely out of line last night.

    I told him that it was okay and that I probably could have handled the situation a bit different, but since both the cars were unmarked I didn’t really know what was going on.

    He said that if he would have just identified himself as a police officer, he was sure that the situation would have played out differently. And that, as I stated above, they are on high alert because of this armed burglar who doesn’t seem to be scared by people or animals in a house when he robs them.

    Anyway, I went out to his car so he could give me his card. Virtually every neighbor in the block seemed to drive by when I was standing out of in the middle of the street talking to the police. I’m the strange one of the neighborhood anyway, so it just adds to the notoriety.

  6. kim west

    i just tell them i’m “scott dickson” — “randy dickson,” if i’m overweight and out of shape.

  7. franz

    I have used “randy dickson” a few time. I have used “kim west” once or twice. Sorry.

  8. bob

    Years ago on a group ride in CA the whole bunch got pulled over, everyone got off with warnings except the guys who thought it would be funny to give the names of racers who were not there that day
    they got in big trouble as with the name & city the cops pulled up the drivers license photo on the computer
    down to the station for fingerprints and multiple charges.


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