8 Ball In The Wind

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Biker Basic-101

In late 1990's, it came to light that the Washington State Patrol had been using a pamphlet called "Biker Basic-101" to train its officers on how to deal with "bikers" during traffic stops.  The title of the very first section gives the WSPs opinion of motorcyclists; "Bikers are dangerous."  With that blatant bias as the focus of their training, the WSP was given a permanent injunction in Thurston County Superior Court.  The judge; the Honorable Richard D. Hicks, ordered an immediate injunction "against the State of Washington and Washington State Patrol from using the document entitled "Biker Basic-101" as an outline for trainng Troopers or other officers and further enjoins the Washington State Patrol from adopting that document as a whole as a WSP policy, field instruction, or guide."  The order was filed on December 6, 2002.

As supposed enforcers of law, one would expect the WSP to obey a Superior Court injunction.  Instead, they ignored it. As years went by, the WSP continued to use the pamphlet as a training guide.  As was testified to under oath nearly a decade later by WSP troopers during a court proceeding which resulted in a $90,000 award to a member of one of the motorcycle clubs in Washington after being stopped and arrested.  All of which was caught on the Troopers own dash camera.  Including the Troopers own statement that if the biker he had pulled over didn't remove his helmet, he would be; "Charged with...with...'something'."

Biker Basic is all about gathering intelligence on the "biker" community.  The second line of that first "Bikers are dangerous" section states that "Bikers are attempting to gather intelligence too.  They just don't write the tickets."  The entire concept behind this pamphlet is how to make what is called a "pretextual stop".  What is a "pretextual stop"?  It is where the law enforcement officer wants to gather information about possible criminal activity, but doesn't have any probable cause, let alone a warrant to investigate any such suspected activity.  So they use a "pretext".  In "Biker Basic-101" the second section is entitled; "Identify the violation".  The only subsection is a list of the three main motorcycle violations; helmet violation, exhaust, handle bar height.  There is the "pretext" the WSP was training its Troopers to use to stop "bikers"in order to then try to gather intelligence without a warrant.

This pamphlet is filled with inflammatory and degrading statements and shows a total lack of respect for the motorcycling community.  In the section on how to stop a "single" biker the first subsection is called "If you can have two Troops, have two".  The statements in that section are all short and to the point.  All show a callous disregard for due-process.  "Two against one is always nice, three against one is better."  "If you can legally issue an infraction or citation do it."  (If the Trooper couldn't legally issue a citation or infraction, where is the probable cause for the stop?  There isn't any.  Even though there may be a "pretext" for making the stop, the real purpose of the stop is to gather intelligence and harass the biker if at all possible.)  "If you can legally impound the motorcycle or book the biker do so."  Then, as if the author of the pamphlet was trying to cover their ass, they added the following sentence as an after thought to that subsection; "But make sure you do the same to other bikers (be uniform and fair)."  

Okay, so the WSP trained their Troopers to basically trump up a highway stop against bikers in order to pull them over.  Then to keep the "bikers" on their bikes with the motors off and the kickstands up, as the Trooper "gathers intelligence" from the "biker" about their Clubs.  Afterward, IF they can find a legal reason to impound the bike and arrest the biker they should do it.  The WSP used this "Biker Basic-101" to violate the Constitution.
This mindset continued for years, and many believe it still exists in the WSP.  The old "the ends justify the minds" mindset.

That might explain why, in 2009, at the Capitol campus, the WSP were crawling through the brush, and walking through the parking lot recording the license plate numbers of every motorcycle on the Capitol campus during the annual ABATE legislative day called "Black Thursday".  No probable cause at all, just blatant intelligence gathering.  No warrant, no other vehicles, just the motorcycles in the parking lot.  Sounds like a clear violation of the 4th Amendment to me.  Don't believe me?  Check it out for yourself, here are a few photos taken from two videos taken during that "Black Thursday".

A letter was sent  complaining about this behavior by the WSP.  The response from the Chief of the Washington State Patrol?  Laughable if it wasn't such a blatant example of profiling from the states top cop.  The Chief of the WSP stated it was done as a precaution because it was their belief that whenever motorcycle clubs come together, there is a "propensity for violence".  I mean really now...The Clubs all ride in together, en masse.  Then all the motorcyclists at the Capitol meet on the steps of the Capitol for a few brief speeches, and a photo op or two.  This has been going on for decades, and I don't recall there ever being any sort of incident at the Capitol campus during "Black Thursday" when everyone is there to see their legislators, and have their voices heard as a community.

It wasn't much better in 2010.  The WSP wasn't crawling around in bushes.  But only because all the bikes were parked out in the open.  However, all the motorcyclists who came to speak with the legislators that day had to walk between four law enforcement vehicles and a K9 unit.  Talk about condescending, and dehumanizing.  All the while, things were beginning to bubble to the surface that the WSP, in complete violation of Judge Hicks' injunction, had been using "Biker Basic-101" in their training  for WSP Troopers.  Perhaps the WSP only follows the laws and Court Orders it agrees with.  

During this time, there was a court case going on over a "pretextual stop" on the I-5 freeway, not far from the Capitol.  The video of the stop, and sworn testimony of WSP Troopers showed that the State Patrol had ignored the Superior Courts injunction and continued to use "Biker Basic-101" as a training guide.  The result of that case was a $90,000 award against the WSP as a result of that stop.  One would think that such a court decision, followed relatively closely by the passing of the nations first Anti-Motorcycle Profiling Law would have some impact on the way the WSP does business.

If you thought that, you would most likely be wrong.  There are several videos on YouTube that shows WSP Troopers using "pretextual stops" against motorcyclists and trying to gather intelligence about Club activity.  One is truly remarkable because it shows the same Trooper that was involved in the stop that resulted in the $90,000 award against the WSP, and another Trooper topping two prospects from one of the Armed Forces Motorcycle Clubs, and yet appearing totally ignorant of the fact there were such things.  Referring to the colors of the rockers worn by the prospects, one of the Troopers wondered if the Black & Red were the colors of a subordinate Club to the Hells Angels whose colors are Red & White.  They seem to think this is a probability because these two prospects had said they were going to "a friends house".  Which one of the Troopers, after noting that they had been riding down a main street after leaving the freeway in the general direction of the Hells Angels Clubhouse, that "maybe a friends house could be the clubhouse."  The ignorance of the WSP Troopers is remarkable to me, in that how can you gather any sort of worthwhile 'intelligence' if you do not even possess the most rudimentary knowledge of the various types of Motorcycle Clubs even within the immediate vicinity.  This mentality, as put forth through "Biker Basic-101" lumps all "bikers" into one group.  As if anyone riding a large cruiser type bike and wearing leather is a member of some notorious like they have seen on TV and in the movies.  Check it out for yourselves, and see what I mean.  The WSP isn't the shining paragons of virtue they would like to have every John Q. Public believe they are.  Just as almost no one in the motorcycling community comes from Sons Of Anarchy.

Click on the link in the first paragraph, or Google Biker Basic 101 and check it out for yourself.  Let me know if you don't feel offended at the low regard shown to motorcyclists and our "old ladies" by this pamphlet, and the WSP.  They are not the fair and equal enforcers of law in Washington State.  If they were, they wouldn't be the main opposition against any effort to amend or repeal the helmet law.  But then, if that happened, it would remove the easiest "violation" for the WSP and "other officers" to use as "pretextual stops" against us.  Think about it.

Catch you on the road sometime...

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