What It's Like To Be Half Arrested
I’m sure if you googled “what is it like to get arrested” you will find plenty of blog posts and articles detailing the trauma of being taken and held in custody by your local police department. However, I’m not sure if there are many articles detailing what I’m calling a Half Arrest is like. As this happened roughly 2 months ago, I am going to tell you.
Before we get started I’m going to give you two facts about me.
1. A few weeks prior I had clocked out of my office job at BMW Bellevue, and found my license plates stolen off my car, as well as my registration and insurance papers stolen out of my glove box.
2. My name is spelled incorrectly on every piece of legal ID I own. This goes across many variations of misspelling to the point where each individual form of legal ID has my name spelled incorrectly a different way.
Tuck that knowledge away in the back of your brain, that will come into play later.
It’s almost 7:00 on a Tuesday night. I was driving along Greenwood Ave headed north from dinner in Ballard with my friend. I noticed a cop car on the road and thought aboslutley nothing of it beyond the initial panic of “am I speeding? Did I run a light? No? I’m good then”.
I noticed another cop car materialize behind the original police car. And another. And another. My only thought was “wow a lotta cops around right now. Must be heading back to the station after duty”.
Lights began flashing in unison to which my next thought was “let me get out of the way as it can’t be me they’re after. No way”.
I proceeded to pull over to the right side of the road and panicked when they all followed.
Remember how my registration and insurance was stolen out of my car a few weeks ago? Yes. I began to panic a bit as I had not gotten around to replacing those documents. I relaxed when I remembered I had the case number of my police report per the Bellevue PD on my phone which would square that issue away right quick.
I was snapped out of my thoughts when I noticed cops hanging out of their vehicles in a staggered array like World Star Hip Hop dancers in a competition. Except they had large guns pointed toward my car and were saying things like “We are armed! Put your hands up where I can see them or I will shoot you in the head right now!”
My hand shot up like fireworks on Independence Day. I reeled with panic as I tried to figure out what the hell I had guns trained on me for.
Numbly I fumbled around as they instructed me to roll down my window, put my hands out the window, unlock my vehicle from the outside and step out of the car. I was handcuffed, informed that my vehicle was reported as stolen and promptly shoved in the back of a car as they read me my rights.
Amidst my tears I managed to choke out a feeble “excuse me sir? My license plates were stolen a few weeks ago is that related to this?”
The cop first made me confirm that I acknowledged my rights to which I mumbled out a “uh yeah” and then I was asked to repeat my earlier question.
His response to this repetition was “Oh shit”.
I explained how my license plates and vehicle documents were stolen, to which I reported to the Bellevue PD at the time. Turns out there was a mix-up as the license plates stolen off my vehicle did not match the registration, but my current plates did; as I had simply but the plates sitting in the back of my car on my car from its initial purchase immediately after I came upon the theft. No one thought to verify my license plate number. Of course this took much longer than it should have as I had to sheepishly explain how my name was misspelled and verify my identity all while trying to talk through a raging panic attack.
As the process of having this sorted out and explanations from all parties were being documented, someone kindly uncuffed me and asked me to take a deep breath as my panic episode was rapidly getting out of control and I think they were scared I was going to pass out or explode or something.
The officer in charge of this whole operation apologized profusely, and reinstalled my plates back on my car. Eventually things calmed down and my breathing normalized enough for them to comfortably let me go. As I continued my journey home I was grateful for two things:
1. I did not end up at the county jail as I now understand how poorly I would do in prison.
2. No one said anything about the half empty bottle of Hennessey sitting in my glovebox or the fifth of Russian Standard Vodka residing in the rear seat that had to have been noticed during the car search.
To this day I still panic when I see cops or police behind me as although I was only half arrested, the trauma lives on.