Last week, more than 100 Riverside, CA law enforcement officers swarmed into a parking lot to perform warrant-less searches on people’s slightly modified vehicles. This not only infringed on automotive enthusiasts, but also a waste of $503,000 from tax payers.
It is a common occurrence across America on Friday and Saturday nights, automotive enthusiasts gather on local strip malls, park, lift their hood and engage in chit-chat and discuss new modifications they’ve done to their vehicle during the week. In the process, they likely contribute to the local economy by buying food and drink from the fast food vendor that’s nearby.
Last week, several police agencies, more than 100 police officers, 150 law enforcement vehicles in total, swarmed onto the local gathering at a local retail development, Canyon Crossings, and issued 48 citations for “Engine Modifications” and another 50 extraneous tickets for window tint, paperwork and license plate display violations, totaling just shy of a hundred tickets. About 150 enthusiasts present, so that was roughly a 1:1 ratio for officers.
From the article, Riverside has cracked down on this rather innocent activity, citing the following:
“If you’re not into street racing, why would you need that?” Riverside Police Traffic Sergeant Skip Showalter asked an enthusiast during a similar crackdown last year. “Why would you want more power going to your car?”
Here’s my point of contention with this. They were not committing a crime. It is not your business why I want more power in my car. Sometimes, it’s not always about [horse]power, torque or 1/4 mile times. It’s just people with similar interests hanging out, getting to know each other (networking). It’s a community out there.
My Point: While some drunkard beats on his wife and children, rest assured that Riverside police are making sure citizens have CARB compliant air intakes and proper exhaust systems. Perhaps, as some child molester is exploiting a pre-teen, rest assured that Riverside police are ensuring vehicles have the proper ground clearance and have DOT-certified tail lights.
Car Modifications are Not a Crime. If anything, it should simply become a technicality (secondary offense) that can be added up if a driver does something illegal. Anyone who thinks this is somehow preventing, averting or some how addressing crime is deeply misinformed. In fact, this only makes people make their cars more stealthily violate crime (Catalytic converter swap-out kits, for example).
Don’t get me wrong — everyone needs to have current registration and insurance, so I am content with officers scanning plates for warrants as they approach vehicles; since it’s full disclosure. If someone has bad tags, they likely have bad insurance and are a risk to other drivers on the road.
The only way the judicial powers will change this, is if people appeal and request a hearing. It costs the state (and resources) time and money and perhaps the judge will realize that the police officers went a bit overboard when they have to schedule in 100 officers as witnesses.
What do you think about this activity? Sound off in the comments!