Adventures with the Nebraska State Police
Saturday afternoon as I was driving my brother home from Colorado, I received a call from someone with a Denver area code and immediately picked it up. My excitement heightened when the person on the other end of the line was the head of a search team for a youth pastor position in Littleton! As he explained how they wanted to fly Hillary and me out for an interview, I saw a sign for a police checkpoint coming up. Not wanting to drive through a police checkpoint talking on my cell phone, I decided to pull off at the next exit.
We parked on the shoulder of the off ramp and my brother Peter got out to check the ropes holding his kayak to the car. I listened to more details about my upcoming interview and something caught my eye in my side mirror. I looked out and there behind us was a cop with his lights on. I didn’t think much about because I assumed he was just making sure the kayak was alright in the high winds of Nebraska. I ended my phone conversation and stepped out of the car.
The cop walked up to me and asked if I had seen the orange sign along the highway. Not knowing what he was talking about I said, “The no parking sign?” I thought he might be busting me for parking on the shoulder.
“Not that sign. The orange one. The one about the police checkpoint?” I had seen that one. Then it started to get weird.
“Why did you pull off the highway?” asked the cop suspiciously.
Worried, I answered, “The winds were getting bad and we wanted to make sure the kayak was alright.”
“Your kayak looked fine. It wasn’t moving at all.”
Not satisfied the cop told me to go sit in the front seat of the squad car and he jumped in the drivers side. “Really, why did you pull off here?” questioned the cop.
“I had a phone call about a job interview and I didn’t want to be driving while I was taking the call,” I answered nervously.
He asked for my driver’s license and called in for background checks on my license. He did the same with Peter’s license.
“Sir, just tell me if you have weed in your car. Even it’s a small amount just tell me. It’s not a big deal.”
“I don’t have weed in my car,” I answered with confidence.
Wait a second! This cop totally thinks we have weed in our car! Should I tell him I’m a youth pastor? Would that even help? Probably better keep my mouth shut.
“Do you have any weapons or drugs in your car?”
“No we don’t have any weapons or drugs in our car.”
At this point the cop who is talking outside to my brother asks on the radio what they should do. The cop in the car with me says, “550” or something and he asks for permission to search the car. I tell him he can. Do I tell him that we have packed the car to the max and that my brother’s clothes are literally jammed into every space in the car? I decide not to tell him because that might make me seem even more suspicious.
The other cop tells Peter to sit in the back of the squad car and he doesn’t say anything. I try to start a conversation but Peter doesn’t say much. Peter later told me that he thought the cops had bugged the car and were listening to our conversation. Peter watches too many movies.
We watch as the cops open the doors to our car and pull out boxes and clothes. My cop opens the side door and the fierce winds of Nebraska blow Peter’s clothes under the car. At this point I actually thought about recording the scene with my iPhone but decided that wouldn’t be wise.
A few minutes later the cops both come to the squad car and tell us that we are free to go. One of the cops says that even if we had drugs we had packed them too well and they weren’t willing to dig for them. They told us that they had stopped three people already at that spot and all three had drugs in the their car. We didn’t. They were 3 for 4 and pretty proud of themselves.
I guess people with drugs see the police checkpoint sign and pull off at an exit to get rid of their drugs. We seemed to fit the profile.
Peter and I jumped in the car, stopped for 10 seconds at the stop sign and drove down the on ramp to the highway in silence and shock.
Now I have another good truth for the youth group game “Two Truths and a Lie.”