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Over-The-Top Cops: "Got Anything I Should Know About?"

"I'm going to need your license and registration. So, do you know why I pulled you over?" "No officer, I don't." "Well, I clocked you going 60 back there. Before I run your license, do you have anything in the car that I need to know about?" … And there it is. The officer has officially begun to fish for a crime.

With the advent of the American highway system and almost ubiquitous use of motor vehicles for travel, police officers have placed a focus on enforcing laws upon the motoring public in particular. And, with an incentive for officers to generate arrests, they have become ever more creative in attempting to get into a motorist's vehicle and to search it thoroughly for evidence of a crime.

To that end, the best way to get inside a motorist's car is to have them make some kind of admission or statement that permits the officer's legal entry. Traditionally, this includes a statement that gives the officer probable cause that evidence of a crime exists inside the vehicle or an admission to the presence of a weapon which requires an officer to "secure it for his safety." There is no legal requirement that a member of the motoring public answer the officer's question but – be it their conscience, the officer's intimidating demeanor, or their belief that if they cooperate with the police they won't be arrested – individuals still insist on answering this question and incriminating themselves in criminal activity.

Rest assured, while individuals continue to incriminate themselves as the result of this creatively innocuous question, officers will continue to make this question a regular part of their routine interaction with individuals that they pull over; even when it has nothing to do with the traffic violation for which they were stopped.

[Over-The-Top Cops is a regular entry focused on identifying and recognizing creative tactics used by law enforcement to obtain arrests and circumvent certain statutory or constitutional limitations placed upon them. These tactics are often used on regular individuals and allow law enforcement to take advantage of individuals who are legally unsophisticated.]