When I was 25 years old my husband, Gregg, and I moved to Cincinnati with our baby daughter. Our first home was an apartment off the Fields-Ertel exit on I-71, and back then there was very little development in the area. In fact, we couldn’t even get a pizza delivered to us. Which is why the day we moved in, I drove to Mason to pick up a pizza at Dominos while Gregg continued unpacking boxes.
On my way back, I was pulled over by a sheriff deputy as I drove down Western Row Road. I was confused, because I wasn’t speeding and didn’t have any idea why I was being stopped. It was dark, I was dressed in skimpy summer clothes because of the heat, and there was no one else around. I started feeling very uncomfortable as the officer approached my car with a flashlight. It didn’t get any better after I rolled down the window.
It began with ‘Where do you think you’re goin’ darlin?’ and ended with ‘Next time I stop you more than your pizza will be cold.’ In between I was told to get out of the car and stand in his spotlight while he ran my plates and license. When I asked why I was stopped, he said I didn’t need to know, and later said I had my ‘flood’ lights on, which was a traffic violation. It dawned on me he was referring to my fog lights.
I was never charged with anything, but the 40 minutes he kept me by the car in the spotlight while he asked me random questions were some of the most intimidating in my life. I focused on memorizing his badge number, and drove home shaking like a leaf when he finally let me go.
When I arrived home to my worried husband, I went straight to the phone and called the sheriff’s department to report the incident. I was raised to respect authority, and law enforcement officials I’d come in contact with before had always made me feel safe, not frightened.
When I reached the sheriff’s office and described what had happened, I was told the deputy was new on the force and was ‘overenthusiastic.’ They appreciated my concern, but no harm was done, so I should just forget about it.
I felt angry and helpless, but realized there was probably nothing more I could do. The sheriff’s department had the power. The experience gave me insight into some of my friends’ distrust of police, something I’d never understood before.
It happened 30 years ago, before cell phones and the internet.
Walter Scott had $18,000 of outstanding child support payments, was pulled over because he had a broken tail light, and supposedly ran because he was afraid of going to jail. A video taken by a bystander captured what happened afterwards.
We may complain about technology and its invasion of privacy in our lives, but it is now more and more difficult for people to lie to us, or intimidate us, when the whole world is watching.
We are becoming a world where there are no more secrets. That may not be a bad thing.