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Many years ago, a friend of mine was hitchhiking with a knapsack filled with his meager belongings, indeed all that he had, in the rain. He was hitching a ride to a summer resort where he was employed to work and it was around fifteen miles from where the bus depot left him off in a nearby town where he had caught a bus from NYC to the remote town.

A cop was patrolling his beat — the roads between the town and forested outpost, mostly devoid of people, where the resort was located. He saw the fellow hitching and it was a cold, damp and raw twilight — around 40 degrees F.

Maybe hitching a ride was illegal up there. Who knows? In any case, he pitied the guy, who was around twenty years old, and offered him a ride as a good Samaritan gesture. Parable of the Good Samaritan – Wikipedia

Besides, who wouldn’t be curious as a law enforcement official to see someone with a backpack in the near dark and in the rain, especially when the shivering and wet chap didn’t even have a raincoat or poncho to protect himself from the weather.

So the young man got into the police cruiser. Then shortly after finding out where the hitcher was going and the reason for him going there, the cop asked about what was in the backpack.

In response, my friend described his belongings, including a rare meerschaum pipe recently bequeathed to him by his dead grandfather. Since the policeman wanted to see it, my friend was eager to oblique, especially as it was meaningful to him as the only object given to him from his grandfather’s very small estate.

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These pipes are all gorgeous, and show individually unique sculptures and superb craftsmanship. They are all, obviously, objects of tremendous beauty and artistic expertise. No two are alike.

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They are also functionally working pipes. They perform well and are, supposedly, a pleasure to use.

To see more since they are extraordinary, please feel free to access: Images for meerschaum pipe. Every single one whether simple or complex in design is amazing and, to me, reminds of Rodin’s sculptures.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that the cop handled the pipe, sniffed it and told the young man that he was a doper. He said that the pipe smelled of marijuana and that before going to the resort, they would stop at a nearby judge’s home for a cup of warming tea on such a chilly evening.

The cop, upon arriving at the judge’s lavish mansion, told the judge that he smelled pot in the pipe and suspected that there might be some in the backpack. (Indeed, there was — around two small teaspoons worth in a little plastic bag.)

Well, it ended up that the judge was a Meerschaum pipe collector, which the cop knew. So they convinced the hitcher to trade the pipe over to the judge (clear nepotism and “sucking up” on the policeman’s part) in exchange for not having jail time, bail, loss of job at the resort and a criminal record. (Subsequently the hitcher handed the pipe away and then was taken to the resort shortly thereafter.)

The fact is that it is illegal to search a backpack, a car, a home, a place of work or anything else without a legal search and arrest warrant. So it was mute that the cop alleged that there was an illegal substance in the backpack.

Then again, who wants to be in jail awaiting trial and having to prove that it is illegal to search without a warrant, especially when up against a judge maybe sympathetic to the coveting judge who wanted the pipe? So maybe it was a “good deal” after all to give up one’s only prized possession, which had sentimental value way beyond its tremendous monetary worth.

It’s hard to say whether the extrajudicial option was better than whatever would have happened else wise, in fact. So the fellow was driven to the resort by the cop after the meeting with the judge and it was the end of the story: pipe gone and jail time plus trial avoided.

In consideration of this event, it seems important for people to know their legal rights. For example, if the hitcher had known that his backpack could not be legally searched, he may have chosen to retain his pipe since he would have won freedom and had no court record in a court of law despite that he would have lost his job.

Hindsight related to making a realistic choice is great, It, certainly, can’t make up for losses. So, once again stated, knowledge of legal rights is very important!

As an aside, there are many great cops in the USA — ones who would never stoop to corruption and who definitely would lay their lives on the line to protect the lives of strangers of any skin color, religion or ethnic background. Accordingly I refuse to castigate all members of any single occupation (such as involve policemen and judges), religion, culture, skin color, etc. concerning differences.

Yes, certainly there are vile members in EVERY group, but this being the case doesn’t account for all of them. It doesn’t negate the honorable, ethical and decent ones.

I absolutely know this for a fact since I have a wonderful policeman as a neighbor. He’s a joy to have in my neighborhood and helps me feel safe when so much is amok around us with crimes, other dangers and crazy violent people rampant and rampaging everywhere.

 
Sally Dugman is a writer in MA, USA

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