It's a strange, strange world out there, folks. People do crazy things every day, like trying to steal livestock by luring them with ice cream. Why are people like this? We don't know, but because they are, obscure laws like these are in effect.
A Day In The Mess Hall
“I’m a Corrections Officer at a state prison. I was assigned to work in the mess hall one day.
I was told by my Sgt., ‘The inmates CAN take the spice cake out of the mess hall and back to their cells, but they CAN’T take the dollop of whip cream that is on the spice cake.’
I was slightly confused and asked, ‘So, they can’t take it out of the mess hall then? Or can they lick the whip cream off?’
He told me, ‘They can lick it off.’
So there I was, standing in front of the area where the inmates turn in their feed up trays not allowing anyone to leave with their dolloped spice cake unless they licked it off.
I had heard it was because it was ‘wet.’ They can take certain solid foods out of the mess hall, but not wet foods. I wanted to ask at the time, but doing so would have given the impression that I was in defense of the inmates. So, you just do what you’re told and get it over with.”
Restraining Orders Aren’t Just Limited To People
“I once assisted with the enforcement of a restraining order against a washing machine.
I’m not kidding. You can get a restraining order against your neighbor’s freaking washing machine.
I know what you are thinking: ‘Officer, you can’t restrain the movement of a washing machine, because they don’t move, you idiot.’
You can, I learned, legally restrain the time the machine is operated.
Me: Knocks on door. ‘Sir, can you please turn off your washing machine until morning? You know about the restraining order.’
Neighbor: ‘But, my clothes are wet.’
Me: ‘Good point, just finish this load, have a good night.’
These two people fought for years and had the cash to throw at lawyers. Injunctions, restraining orders, protection orders, they had it all. It got so bad that one of the two had to take a different route home to avoid violating one of the orders.”
What Do Horses And Boats Have In Common?
“I was on the receiving end of a bizarre law.
A few friends and I frequented some of the local state parks on horseback. The horse I had at the time loved to swim, and whenever we had the opportunity to ride up to the lake, I’d take him for a dip.
On one excursion, a park ranger caught up to our group and everyone shouted at me to come back to shore. I get back to them and the ranger promptly hands me something…a ticket. I ask what on earth it was for.
He stated that there is a regulation against operating a vehicle on the lake without a permit, and in said state park equine are considered a vehicle.
So I got fined for boating without a valid permit. On a horse.”
The Craziest Custody Battle Ever
“Once I had to respond to a call about interfering with a child custody agreement. While reading the dispatch narrative, I was kinda confused with what it said. I thought maybe dispatch was just lazy and didn’t want to ask the reporting party for more info. It read, ‘Reporting Party (RP) requesting assistance for their Koby Bear.’
When I got there, I quickly asked for the custody forms, which they had on hand and provided. After briefly reading the custody details, things seemed a bit off. The RP was at the ex-husband’s house wanting to pick up her ‘child.’ The decree stated: ‘X has possession of Koby Bear, beginning from 6:00 PM the first, third, and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6:00 PM on Sunday.’ Then below it read something like, ‘X is not responsible for providing a leash or grooming.’
I’ve met some weird people in my career and was a little skeptical asking about the child. Well turns out, it’s for their dog, a white St. Berdoodle. The X did not want to return the dog to her after his possession. After knocking on the door and speaking to X, he told me he wasn’t going to give her the dog. I told him that if he did not give her the dog, he would be charged with failure to comply with a magistrate order, which is a state jail felony. He ended up handing over the dog and then she went bonkers when she saw another woman’s lipstick residue on his white fur and a scent of a woman’s perfume.
She was adamant on filing a police report for the lipstick so that she could use it as leverage in court.”
Who Even Complains About This Kind Of Stuff?!
“In New Jersey, there are very specific laws regulating the size of stop signs on ice cream trucks…
I am not a law enforcement officer, but a legislative aide for a state representative. A few weeks ago, a very angry middle-aged man called the office complaining about the ice cream truck parked down the street from his house. At first, I thought he was kidding, but then he started citing NJ Statute 39:4-128.5, laying out how big an ice cream truck’s stop sign must be, and how far it must extend off of the truck.
I called the local police department, and after assuring them I was not a prank caller, and that I did work for the senator, they said they would assign someone to the case. I got a call two days later saying they went down to the ice cream truck with measuring tape and sure enough the stop sign was not regulation size. The ice cream truck was cited, fined, and given a week to get a new stop sign.
I’m not sure who calls the police (or their senator’s office) about this type of stuff, but I have a funny feeling that this angry old guy was a competing ice cream man.”
Fishing On The Rio Grande
“Being a Border Patrol Agent is normally a thankless job, but not when you have fellow classmates who make it worthwhile to get up in the morning!
People come from Mexico and fish in the Rio Grande River all the time (for those of you in the middle of Nowhere-Near-A-Border, it’s the river that runs the US-Mexico border from New Mexico to The Gulf of Mexico). Sometimes they step up onto the US side and we politely remind them that they cannot be on US soil. 99% of the time they’re just there trying to feed their families, and we have zero issues with them. Ohhhh but not my classmate Super Trooper ‘Jim.’
Jim is special. In so many ways. While he is correct in thinking that you cannot enter the US without entering at a time and place as designated by US law, as with all Law Enforcement Officers, we retain discretion on enforcement. Basically meaning ‘apply common sense before acting.’ Well…not so much here. Jim comes down to find 3 guys fishing in a canal that comes off the Rio Grande River. They have fishing poles, tackle, a ton of fish…and one of them literally has a spear and is wearing a wetsuit. He will forever be known as Aquaman. We have encountered Aquaman before, even brought him to the station once just to make sure he did not have any wants or warrants, but the guy checked out. Just a regular bloke trying to fish. Now at this point, we generally give them ‘the speech,’ wave our fingers at them, and tell them to take their haul back home.
Oh, but not this day. Jim decides justice will be served. They admitted to him that they walked across the river. One of them is a US citizen who brought them across to show them where he fishes and his two friends are citizens of Mexico with no legal status in the US. Jim arrests all of them. He wants to charge Aquaman with alien smuggling and bringing a weapon into the US illegally. He then wants the two ‘aliens’ processed for illegal entry (which gets you jail time here) and then deported.
Fortunately, our supervisors thought the better of this and gave everyone a ride home, but for poor Jim, justice was left unserved.”
It’s A Lot Easier To Just Mow Your Lawn
“I wasn’t the original charging officer, but I was dealing with a disturbance one night and ran warrant checks on everyone as per usual. One of the guys had a bench warrant…for failure to cut grass.
We are bound by law to make an immediate arrest on a bench warrant (a standard arrest warrant has a little bit of leeway if it’s nothing major), so I had to arrest him. I worked in a city at the time and it was illegal for your grass to exceed 6 inches in height.
Apparently, he had some issues with his neighbor and while he was out of town, the neighbor called code enforcement who issued him a citation for ‘failure to maintain lawn’ and the guy never paid the fine. $262 or 14 days in the pokey.
The Strange Thing You Can’t Do With Ice Cream
“I’m not an officer, but my old neighbor was and he actually had to arrest someone for walking around with an ice cream cone in their back pocket.
It sounds dumb, but this is a rural area with lots of farms, and people who are intending to steal livestock will walk by with ice cream sticking out of their pocket so that animals will follow them. They never have to touch the animals at all, they just walk them out of their pen and into a trailer. For some reason, they got away with it for a long time, because some other obscure law said you had to have a rope around the animal for it to be considered stealing, so they started using ice cream to just make them follow.
So if any of you ever visit southwestern Kentucky, don’t put any ice cream in your pocket. You will get arrested.”
Kitty Cat Warfare
“My boyfriend is a bylaw officer in a small town.
My favorite story of his is about the lady with barbed wire all over her yard. He received a complaint from her neighbors and went to check the place out. She had completely covered her bushes and trees and the top of her fence in barbed wire because she was convinced that her neighbors had trained their cats to dig up her garden. They were throwing them over the fence she said, so there was obviously no other alternative. He spent twenty minutes fighting with her about why she needed to take it down before he came up with an idea she was satisfied might work. Use motion detector sprinklers to keep the cats away! So she takes down the wire, he gives her a warning, and everyone seems happy.
A week later, he gets another call saying the barbed wire is back up. He goes to check it out and sure enough, she has doubled the amount of wire and is furious when she sees him pull up. Apparently, The cats LOVED the sprinklers! They would run in and out of them all day playing and now the yard is wet and muddy! The neighbors hated her and were using their cats to drive her insane! After an hour of trying to sort out her psychobabble and reason with her, he gave up and just handed her a huge fine.”
Trying To Abuse His Authority
“I was a military policeman. I worked at a certain base at a certain location, nothing dangerous. At the time I was scanning IDs at the main gate. Usually, it just goes _DING _indicating all is good.
One day, a young kid (16 or 17) pulls up in a small car, hands me his ID like everyone else does. He’s wearing baseball outfit, with his gear in the backseat, face is sweaty, left arm has dirt on it. Probably baseball practice. On this instance my scanner didn’t go DING, it went BEEP BEEP BEEP which is bad. I look over the scanner and see that its telling me this kid is in trouble of something. After a phone call to my supervisors, I am told I need to arrest and detain him for pickup because he isn’t allowed to be driving on the installation (suspended license for some form of traffic violation). I ask over the phone when it expires, and to my amusement, it ends on that day’s date. So I obviously know this kid thought he was allowed to drive today. I told my supervisors I would let him on base as long as he parks the car in the lot nearby and has someone pick him up since it’s obvious he assumed he could drive today. They agreed. I get off the phone, tell the kid to park his car in a nearby lot to talk to him. I tell him he can’t be driving yet, but tomorrow he is allowed to. He was very apologetic. Nice kid. He calls his dad (who ended up being a high ranking officer) to pick him up. As I say goodbye and walk away, my radio is going off, by my supervisor’s supervisor… ‘[My name]! You will apprehend that individual immediately! I will be en-route to pick up and read him his rights! Standby for my arrival.’
I felt so bad for the kid. I felt like we became friends. So I told him to get off the phone, and how sorry I was that I had to do this. You could see his face, how sad he was that he is going to be in trouble with his dad now. I told him it isn’t anything bad, we will work it out I promise. Handcuffed and searched him. He was so sad. He did nothing wrong, wasn’t even ON THE INSTALLATION yet. I was being the helpful cop to the community. Then some idiot supervisor lead thought he was being the ‘Hero of Justice!’
LUCKILY though, kid was alright. Another patrol came by, heard what was happening, said he would take the kid. Told me to unhand-cuff him. He said, ‘I’ll take the wrap for this one.’ And he did just that. Kid went to his father, who yelled at the supervisor lead. They came out and thanked me later that day. Sometimes officer discretion is all it takes to form a trustful relationship with the community.”
Well This Cop Was Just A Punk
“Honking your horn in the absence of danger!
A motorcycle cop cut me off as I was entering the freeway once with no siren. I didn’t recognize he was a cop as it was dark so I slammed on my horn and he immediately pulled me over. He said that the horn was too late after the instance of danger. Got a ticket. AND to tack on to that, because he smelled weed, I was handcuffed on the side of the freeway while he waited for backup to help search my vehicle. Had to stand there for nearly an hour in heels. My feet really really really hurt. There was no weed.”
“A former roommate was a cop when I went to grad school near Amish Country. BUI (Buggying Under the Influence) is apparently a thing. It turns out that a non-insignificant number of Amish get plastered and then let the horse go home (because it knows the way). The thing is, the horse doesn’t know about stop signs, traffic signals, the speed to go, etc.”
Pro Tip: Don’t Park In Tow-Away Zones
“A friend of mine lived in an apartment complex with a really terrible parking situation. There was essentially nowhere for guests at this huge complex to park. Everywhere was reserved tenant parking or tow-away zone. It made me really mad all the time because I would have to park way down this hill and walk my butt way too far just to visit a friend.
Now, I realize there’s a reason for the tow-away zones (for emergency vehicle access, e.g.), but it was just annoying, because the drives were really wide, and it was all just empty space. Really poorly designed.
Anyway, one day I stopped by for a short visit. I didn’t want to walk all the way up the hill just to say hi, so I parked in front of my friend’s unit, and I left a note on my windshield: ‘If you tow my car, I will set the building on fire.’
I thought it was a funny reference to a line from the movie Office Space. The apartment management apparently did not read my note in the voice of Milton Waddams.
My stay lasted a little longer than anticipated, and I forgot about my car. Soon, there was a knock on the door. My friend called me down, where I was confronted by a police officer. He was kind enough to inform me that he could arrest me for ‘making terroristic threats,’ but I’m very glad he didn’t. Instead, he laughed at my stupidity and declared that the apartment would henceforth ban me from the premises.
Moved my car, went back inside, and continued hanging out with my friend, now celebrating avoiding the addition of my name to any federal lists.”
Why Can’t The Chicken Cross The Road?
“My father was the chief bylaw enforcement officer where I grew up. After a person complained that his neighbor’s chickens eating his asparagus, my father had to write a law that made it illegal for chickens to cross the road. A TV show in Canada called ‘On The Road Again’ made a whole episode about it.”
Not-So Good Luck Charm
“So Texas has a program where they give grant funding to local law enforcement in the border counties, and in return, the locals must provide information concerning significant crimes. I’ll skip the details, but I was a contractor responsible for collecting and distributing this information.
I once received an arrest report involving some coke packaged for distribution and a baggie with the freshly severed head of a Texas Horned Lizard in it. The guy was carrying it for good luck. It piqued my curiosity; after a little research, I learned the Horned Lizard is a threatened species. I forwarded the information to the Game Wardens and moved on to other work.
Several months later, at a Unified Command meeting, I asked the Game Warden Captain if anything ever came of it. Turns out it wasn’t his first time getting caught with a threatened species and the judge threw the book at him; $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail. He got more time/fines for his good luck charm than he did for the coke.”
‘You Can’t Stop Us!’ – Well, Actually…
“I was working in our local entertainment district one night, doing foot patrols/walking the beat. A couple of idiots were on their skateboards doing laps up and down the main street where all the clubs were. I don’t mind skateboarders, but when you’re deliberately harassing people and being a nuisance, well, there’s a problem.
I stopped them the next time they swung past and I got a smug ‘We’re not doing anything wrong, you can’t stop us, Copper.’
I was quite pleased to tell them they were breaking a law: ‘a person shall not travel on a wheeled recreational device, on a carriageway, during the hours of darkness.’
Basically, you can’t ride a skateboard at night. Go figure.”
The High Hedges Act
“We have the High Hedges Act.
One day, this guy phones up the council complaining that his neighbor’s hedges were blocking light into his living room. The fun thing about this law is it only applies when the hedge is 2 meters (6’6”) tall or over. We can’t force anyone to trim the hedge below said height.
We charged this guy some silly amount (up to £360, can’t remember exactly) for the privilege of coming out to look. We saw the hedge is blocking light, went to the neighbor and told him to trim the hedge down or we’ll have to serve a notice.
The neighbor cut the hedge down to 2m and it still blocks light into the room, but legally, we couldn’t do anything more.
This happens far more than it should.”
The Most Bizarre Thing He Ever Witnessed
“I saw this dude get arrested for the most bizarre thing I’ll ever witness.
My buddies have a small cottage on a lake in Western Michigan, and everyone knows you don’t mess with the police on the lake because those guys can be in the water on Sea-Doos within like five minutes after you call. We’re sitting out on the dock, and we saw momma duck and a line of ducklings swim past us. They get about twenty or so feet out into the lake past the dock, and this dude rolls up on a jet ski, pulls out a freaking weapon, and caps mamma duck.
This is a violation of like every hunting and public safety law there is, so we run up to the house and tell our parents, and the police are called. We get back down to the dock, with armed dads in tow, and daddy duck is swimming out to the distraught ducklings… just as this idiot is rolling back up. My friend’s dad yells something at him, and the dude (turns out he was very wasted) yells something offensive back and BAM! He pops daddy duck… right in front of two county sheriffs.
They managed to arrest him without much brouhaha, but odds are that dude got hit with an amazing fine, lost his drivers license, and probably did some jail time.”