Don’t lie to the cops.
Talk about stating the obvious. But it’s a lesson apparently not widely learned.
The current special counsel’s investigation into Russian meddling in 2016 tripped up some supposedly very smart people who didn’t learn that lesson.
Trump campaign associates Michael Flynn, George Papadopoulos and Richard Gates lied to the FBI and ended up pleading not guilty to that crime and several others.
I have a much cleaner criminal record. My only brush with the law came on a sunny Sunday afternoon in 1975 when I made an illegal left turn in downtown St. Cloud. When the police officer asked me if I saw the “No Left Turn” sign, I told the truth. I told him I saw it. He let me go with a warning. Lesson learned.
I’ve reported on cops and crime for more than 40 years and I’ve learned a few things about law enforcement. Sometimes in the course of reporting, journalists and officers butt heads. But they share one trait….they don’t like to be lied to. Hearing what they know to be a lie, a cop or a journalist just digs in deeper to get at the truth.
Next to lying, stupidity takes a close second on the list that lands you in jail.
Indictments filed last week on Gates reveals his effort to tamper with financial documents was hampered by how to convert Word and Excel files to pdfs. Not exactly rocket science.
If you’re a regular reader of the police blotters that appear weekly on these pages, you’ve probably noticed Sartell and St. Joseph officers run across lying and stupidity all the time.
Some recent examples:
A woman was stopped for driving 52 mph in a 30-mph zone in downtown St. Joseph. Besides the speeding ticket the driver couldn’t provide proof of insurance.
In Sartell, a driver blew through a red light. He was stopped and he told the officer he didn’t see the light even though four vehicles in front of him passed through the intersection with a green light.
Small violations can lead to more trouble. An officer stopped a vehicle for no license-plate light. Turns out the driver didn’t have a license…only an instructional permit. The officer checked the driver’s history and found multiple instructional-permit violations within the last two years.
One of my favorite recent violations occurred in Sartell when a routine license-plate check revealed the driver was suspended. The officer saw a small baggie that turned out to hold meth. Lesson…if you’re going to carry drugs, make sure your license is up to date.
And perhaps my favorite:
A Sartell officer stopped a driver for going 73 mph in a 60-mph zone. The officer immediately noticed a jar of marijuana on the front driver’s seat. The driver told the officer the car and the pot belonged to his sister.
Maybe the third rule of the how-not-to-be-arrested list should be don’t blame your sister.