Pot profiling: Do Alabama cops think everyone from Colorado looks like a drug smuggler?

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After our latest post about marijuana profiling, we were contacted by plenty of folks who say law enforcers in other states conducted traffic stops and searches that appear to have been based solely on their Colorado license plates. Among the most memorable tales comes from 65-year-old Sandra Lenga, who was told by an Alabama officer that she and her husband, 71, fit the profile of drug smugglers because they didn't fit the profile of drug smugglers -- which presumably means every other Colorado driver matches, too.

Here's how Lenga tells the story.

"We live in Tabernash, Colorado, in Grand County, and we were headed for St. Augustine, Florida, where we were going to spend two months," she says. "It was the very end of January, maybe the 28th or 29th, and we were still on the road. We spent one night in Dysersburg, Tennessee, and we were in northeast Alabama, driving toward Birmingham on a small highway.

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"As we were driving, we saw two blue police vehicles with blue lights flashing up ahead on the side of the road," Lenga continues. "We were in the right lane, so my husband moved over to the left lane. We passed the vehicles -- the first one had two deputies and the other one was a sheriff -- and then one of them drove out and pulled us over."

Why were they stopped?

"They said to my husband, 'We pulled you over because you changed lanes slowly,'" she replies.

Yes, you read right. The lane change was supposedly too slow -- although not so egregiously tardy that it begged for a citation.

"They said, 'We're not going to write you a ticket for that, but we have drug-sniffing dogs with us, and we're going to walk them around the car,'" Lenga goes on.

After making a circuit, the officers told the Lengas that the dog had "alerted" to their gas cap -- and as a result, they needed to search the entire vehicle.

Doing so was time-consuming. After all, the Lengas's car was packed with enough clothing and possessions to last them for the two months they planned to stay in Florida. But the officers eagerly tackled the task, stacking bags and boxes on the side of the highway and going through them one by one.

Meanwhile, Sandra and her husband were separated. "They told my husband to go to the back of the car and I had to go to the front of the car," she remembers. Once she was on her own, "a deputy said to me, 'You're not going to get in trouble. Just let me know if you've handled drugs recently, because we're trying to figure out why the dog is alerting.' And I said, 'Well, when I was in college back in the '60s, I did handle some marijuana, but I haven't since.'"

Continue for more of Sandra Lenga's story about marijuana profiling.


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201 comments
Esteban Mainzer
Esteban Mainzer

i never said ( or assumed or suggested ) everyone in colorado sold or smoked pot, stacey. so, i guess me being a troll is pointing out morons like you that have bad reading skills.

Stacey Rogers
Stacey Rogers

No, you twit. Obviously, the profiling is based on state.

Esteban Mainzer
Esteban Mainzer

if by "troll" you mean having an opinion different than you or points out liberal rhetoric and hysteria…then, yes.

Esteban Mainzer
Esteban Mainzer

lmao. you're actually trying to make "license plate profiling" a thing?

Bradford Ashington
Bradford Ashington

ah how cute, a couple of inbred losers on social media engaging in some depraved circle jerk. say, Shaney....u still haven't told me how my ass taste

Bradford Ashington
Bradford Ashington

Esteban, u r an idiot. the rights being infringed upon is not pot possession, per se, but the right to not be needlessly profiled by overzealous and clearly uneducated redneck coppers shut up. u r fucking dumb.

Malcolm Smart
Malcolm Smart

"Just doing my job" is the new "I was only following orders."

ItsMeItsMe
ItsMeItsMe

Couldn't have been because of the license plates, Alabama cops can't read, can they? But I guess they've shown them a picture of what they look like.

Bill Workman
Bill Workman

No sometimes they run because you can't argue with stupidity. Smoke up!

Esteban Mainzer
Esteban Mainzer

^ that's how morons argue. they call someone a name and run home to mommy.

Esteban Mainzer
Esteban Mainzer

^ = idiots call people names when they have no argument.

Gregg Looker
Gregg Looker

Your story here should be made more public. What a freakin ordeal.

Gregg Looker
Gregg Looker

Estaban: You're the ass. Alabama sucks, like the rest of the south. They would repeal the Emancipation Proclamation if they had the chance.

Aj Jensen
Aj Jensen

My partner and I were stopped in Kansas on December 26th coming back to Colorado from visiting my family in Arkansas for Christmas. We were in my tiny truck with a topper on the back for our two dogs, one of whom had just endured knee surgery. A scar-faced officer pulled us over for "driving too long in the left lane" when in fact all we had done was pass him (going the speed limit) and had returned to the right lane. He approached me on the passenger side of the vehicle to tell us why he stopped us, to which we replied that he was mistaken. He went back to his car with my license and returned to my side and asked me to step out of the vehicle. I know my rights, but this was the type of guy that seemed hell-bent on finding something--anything, and we really didn't want any trouble, so I walked to the back of the truck where he paused, looked me in the eye and asked, "Okay, who has the pot?" I immediately laughed, knowing neither of us had or was smoking any weed. I'm in the US Army Reserves, and we had just come from family Christmas for crying out loud. I mean we were driving in Christmas pajamas, with presents in the back of the truck, as well as our two dogs who did not like this cop peeking into the back of the truck bed. I told him there was no weed in the truck at all, and he said, "Well I smelled it." And I replied, "I don't know what you think you smelled, but we definitely don't have any weed." He said, "then you won't mind if I search the cab?" -- at this point I became afraid. Obviously not that he would find drugs, but that he wasn't going to stop harassing us until he found something. I agreed to let him search the cab of the truck because I truly had nothing to hide. Before he searched the truck, he wanted to search me for weed. He glanced down at my pockets and noticed I had a knife strapped to a pocket, and asked me what weapons I had on me. Keep in mind, I'm a 5'1" 135lb female and this guy was at least 6'4" 250lbs. I told him I had a few knives and utility tools on me (I'm Army, we love utility knives). He asked to have them all and I started to reach for them to hand over and he freaked and was like, "No, no. I'll get them." And then proceeded to grab the knife and utility tools out of my pockets. While I kept my hands raised in the air. He approached my wife in the driver seat and asked her about weed, saying he had smelled it. I heard her laugh. She also said, "We don't have any weed. Maybe you're smelling the oregano I had on my sub sandwich?" The officer was not amused. She stepped out of the vehicle along the busy interstate and began waiting with me between his cop car and the back of our truck. As he began searching the cab, another officer pulled up, and approached my wife and I. This officer was much younger, and asked us what was going on. I said, "I don't know. This guy seems to think he smelled weed and wants to search our truck." The young officer started shaking his head and went to chat with scar-face. Upon not finding anything that even resembled weed or paraphernalia, the officer came back to us and said, "I need to search the back of the truck." Meaning, the part with the topper, with all our luggage and presents and our two dogs inside. Again, I know my rights, so I stated that the back was locked, again explained that I'm not sure what he thought he smelled, but that we did not have any weed, and could we please be on our way. That's when he looked at me and said, "We can do this the easy way or the hard way." Which to me meant he was the kind of asshole who would make us wait while he obtained some kind of warrant, meanwhile sending our truck to impound as well as our dogs, and taking us down to a station. Obviously, I wanted to exercise my rights and say NO. But with one dog fresh off of leg surgery, and really not wanting to be dragged to a police station the day after Christmas, I said, "Look, I'm not having my dogs out of my truck right here on the highway. It's dangerous. One of them just had surgery, and neither of them are very happy with you right now. What can we do to show you we don't have weed?" He finally agreed that my wife and I would pull all the luggage out of the back and lay it on the ground while he searched it, leaving the dogs in the truck. And search he did. Literally EVERY pocket of every bag and item of clothing. By the time he was finished this ordeal had gone on for over an hour on the side of the interstate. I watched him like a hawk the entire time he searched our belongings. To me, he seemed like the type of guy so hell-bent on finding something that he wouldn't be above placing it there himself. Obviously finding nothing, he returned to us and said we could put everything back now, so we loaded our gear back and turned to face him, glaring harshly I am sure. I wanted to scream. I wanted to be angry and ask for his badge number. I wanted to tell him this was harassment and was illegal. I wanted to call my Army unit and have an officer lay into this guy, but when he walked over and said we were free to go, that he would not be ticketing us for driving in the left lane too long (which we were not), and added, "I know what I smelled, so you either threw it out the window or I can't find it." -- I just knew. I knew better than to prolong this interaction even one more second. So we glared at him and got back in our truck and fumed for the remaining 7 hour drive back to Denver.

Stacey Rogers
Stacey Rogers

Ok, I get it now: Esteban is #1 a troll, #2 doesn't live in Colorado where, despite it being legal, not everyone smokes/sells pot, #3 not a cop. Just because the majority voted it to be legal, the majority doesn't use or sell it; it is about freedom. I voted to make it legal because I believe in personal freedom, but I do not smoke or eat it. You obviously do not believe in personal freedom. YOU are the one making an ass out of himself.

Stacey Rogers
Stacey Rogers

Esteban, it is called "profiling". One need not be an attorney to know that. The same goes for racial profiling!

Esteban Mainzer
Esteban Mainzer

it's alabama. where pot isn't legal. where cops are just doing their jobs.

Esteban Mainzer
Esteban Mainzer

brian. is pot legal in alabama? no. shut up and go home. you're making an ass out of yourself.

Esteban Mainzer
Esteban Mainzer

ummm… ok… see… here's how it works, liberals. there are consequences for your actions. if your state has legal pot… i would say it's within the bounds of reasonable cause that if i saw a colorado plate going through my state… where pot was illegal… and it would be a pretty good place to sell the pot you got legally in colorado… to pull you over.

Jimmie Anderson Jr.
Jimmie Anderson Jr.

Why wouldnt they ? Miss up another chance to rape money from the public ? By the way bama you still owe me 600 in state taxes . You guys get paid yet or what ?

Brian Martinez
Brian Martinez

Tip: If you travel to the bible belt from Colorado and are stopped. Get your phone out with a voice recorder app. Record the whole conversation. If the idiot cop happens to say that he stopped you for your Colorado plates. You will have one hell of a law suit on your hands. Cah ching!

Brian Martinez
Brian Martinez

I don't think Alabama cops are to keen onn fancy book lernin.

Brian Martinez
Brian Martinez

I'm glad you are ready to surrender your rights anytime a law is chosen my the majority of voters. But its a good thing that attitude wasn't popular after the emancipation proclamation or civil rights.

Stacey Rogers
Stacey Rogers

I guess that seems fair: I assume everyone who lives in Alabama is a racist redneck. Is it right? No, but my perception is that they are backward. (which is ironic for me to write, I know!)

Alesia Lamar Bickford
Alesia Lamar Bickford

Perhaps we as Coloradoans need to BOYCOTT these states and spend our money here.

Latifah Abdul'laah
Latifah Abdul'laah

It's Alabama, they have been taking the dogs and searching Greyhound buses for drugs and Mexicans for decades. We had to submit to a search of the Greyhound were on in 1996. All this does is give them more of a reason. It's profiling...Coloradoans will be better informed and more empathetic to profiling now, I bet ya....and Ehron I hope you guys bankrupt the Crimson Tide!

Foster Wygant
Foster Wygant

I just moved back to Huntsville Alabama temporarily for work, and have never seen the abuse of power like I am seeing right now.

Kraig Conkin
Kraig Conkin

Really? In the diverse, culturally-aware, earthly paradise of Alabama? I don't believe it.

John Mccall
John Mccall

It's Alabama, what do you expect. Cops only have room temp IQ's

Bob Ziegler
Bob Ziegler

Doesn't just happen with Colorado plates when I moved back to Illinois with California plates it happened to me cops will stop out of state cars no matter what the state because if they write a ticket they assume you won't come back to fight it and now with legal weed it's gonna happen a lot more to Colorado and Washington

Dian Feral
Dian Feral

I think the answer to that question is "yes."

Charlie Whiskey
Charlie Whiskey

Didn't the cops read about how crime has dropped here? Who the hell are they protecting and serving outside of their department budgets and quotas and the pockets of those running the for profit prison system by doing this?

Joe Hensley
Joe Hensley

Cops just wasting their time when theres actual crime happening.

Ehron Moats
Ehron Moats

My mother lives in Alabama and me and my family went for a visit for a week. Well my week was extended to 2 months because of our plates and took me in on suspicion. Didn't have anything with me on me or around me and those red neck cop's took me in and tried to keep me. Now I am back in good ole Colorado and Alabama is being sued by me and my family. Lawyer says we will win hands down.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

"Troll" usually means radical right wing nuts endlessly posting and re-posting the lies their corporate cultmasters have told them.  Usually the cult talking points involve conservatives hatred of the majority of Americans or the hatred of American freedom.  I hope this was helpful.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

"Troll" usually means radical right wing nuts endlessly posting and re-posting the lies their corporate cultmasters have told them.  Usually the cult talking points involve conservatives hatred of the majority of Americans or the hatred of American freedom.  I hope this was helpful.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

You mean like in your previous post where you are calling people "morons?"

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

Yeah, the stupid should be tolerated.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

Their job is to violate the Constitution?  How conservative of you!

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