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