Apparently a former FBI agent and Florida cop – now a defense attorney – named Dale Carson wrote a book on “arrest-proofing” yourself. Basically, how to avoid doing obvious things that will lead to the police targeting you. I ran across this snippit on white trash:
They’re fond of the magic herb and can be seen growing their very own shipboard marijuana bushes, which they mist and fertilize lovingly. Nothing, of course, replaces beer. They consider the 24-pack and the kegger to be the most important advances in human convenience in the last century. When in need of jollification, they hie forth to roadhouses and biker bars, where misunderstandings about women sometimes require the intervention of civil authority. When their women are in need of enlightenment, they improve their lady’s understanding with a few sharp raps to the head. Their dress code runs to jeans and T-shirts. Their hair is long or shaved off, their beards scruffy, and their skin adorned with tattoos and piercings.
Got the picture? These are petty criminals, but why aren’t more of them in jail? Because they’re not totally clueless. Using the Cluelessness Quotient chart and the Golden Rules for comparison, let’s consider manners first. Although low on the social food chain, these characters don’t have a chip on their shoulders about race. They are less likely to act out in the presence of police. Generally they can stifle the profanity during those crucial minutes and mumble “Yes, officer” and “No officer” until the heat has passed.
Most important, they don’t adopt the outdoor lifestyle. They’re almost never visible walking on streets where they can be seen by cops riding around in cars. When they drive, their cars and pickups may be junkers, but they’re street legal, so they have fewer traffic stops. They get wasted indoors, where search warrants are required, and are less likely to carry dope on their persons and in their cars. Often they grow their own marijuana, so they do not buy drugs and fall victim to police stings, undercover cops, and confidential informants. Their dress is scruffy, but T-shirts and jeans blend in better than gang colors and hip-hop gear, so they don’t get targeted as quickly by police.
Once they do get arrested, they have some resources. For time management, they generally can muster an alarm clock and a watch, and in emergencies, a calendar. They often marry their women, so they have a wife, the “old lady,” in addition to Mama and sisters to pay legal fees and bail bonds. When driving, they get their buzz from beer rather than marijuana. This means that if they’re stopped and are not legally intoxicated, they will receive only a citation for driving with an open container—and not even that if they can slide the can out the rear window and into the truck bed before the cop gets close. Rednecks have some knowledge of police procedure. They know that police do not like to find guns, so they carry the all-purpose and legal knife. When they do carry guns, they are likely to have a permit.
I quoted the whole thing because I found it fascinating, but I’m going to comment primarily on a single part: It’s a product of my upbringing, I suppose, that leads me to so completely fail to understand the dressing and grooming habits of much of the underclass. In this case, “Their hair is long or shaved off, their beards scruffy, and their skin adorned with tattoos and piercings.” Even among a criminal group that seems to have a better handle on the social cues than most, you still have all this.
Their hair is long or shaved off, their beards scruffy, and their skin adorned with tattoos and piercings. I have on a couple of occasions grown my hair out. I sometimes keep a goatee. I have here and there considered a tattoo, but only on a place easily concealed. I never cease to be amazed by the sleeve tattoos. While I would not pierce my ear under any circumstances – my wife doesn’t even have pierced ears – the shift from some of piercings to those big giant holes that make it so that you can’t reverse it… I just don’t get any of this. I do understand the desire to stand out. I understand the desire to be a little weird. I never dyed my hair blue, but the idea has appealed to me.
Some of the above is aesthetic. I just prefer things plain. But it goes beyond that. The notion of doing something to myself – to make a statement, to fit in, whatever – just horrifies me. Even when I used to dress strange, or considered dyeing my hair, I took a great amount of comfort in knowing that I could, with a good shower, become a Respectable Citizen once again quite easily. Which I guess only matters if you see the appeal of being a respectable citizen to begin with.
I’m a serial loiterer. Mostly due to my smoking. I get hassled by the cops about it occasionally (though never ticketed). But even with me, a white guy with not-long hair and a conventional goatee (if I have anything at all), I notice the difference in the way I am treated when I am dressed business casual versus when I am slumming it. I can only think of one time I have ever been hassled when I wasn’t in the latter state. The rest of the time it is a combination of t-shirt and jeans (I guess I don’t get any points for it being tucked in and wearing a belt…) and in a dubious neighborhood (where, as a conspicuous white guy, they are more likely to think I am looking for drugs than that I actually live there, I would guess).
Doing something permanent to myself that would make me forever provoke caution, or that would forever disassociate me from being Respectable Citizen, is just an alien concept. Perhaps it is because I am so weird on the inside that I tend to aim for conventional on the outside.