Tased Motorist to CBP Agent: 'What the Fuck Is Wrong With You?'
Would-be CBP agent gets the full CBP treatment at an internal checkpoint.
by Jacob Sullum | May. 15, 2015 | Reason
Jessica Cooke, a 21-year-old from Ogdensburg, New York, recently graduated from SUNY Canton with a degree in law enforcement leadership and had already applied for a job as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent when she was surprised by an impromptu final lesson at a CBP checkpoint on Route 37 in Waddington last week. What she learned—that people who insist on their constitutional rights in this setting run the risk of being roughed up and shot with a stun gun—should help make her a better CBP agent, although CBP may not see it that way.
Cooke was driving from Norfolk to her boyfriend's house in Ogdensburg, the northern border of which is the St. Lawrence River. If you cross the river, you are in Canada, but Cooke was not crossing the river. She nevertheless became subject to the arbitrary orders of CBP agents by driving through one of the country's many internal immigration checkpoints, which can be located anywhere within 100 miles of the border (a zone that includes two-thirds of the U.S. population). For some mysterious reason, she was instructed to pull into a secondary inspection area, where she used her cellphone to record a five-minute video of the stop (above).
After presenting her driver's license, Cooke, who surely learned in college that police (and even CBP agents!) need "reasonable suspicion" to detain someone, asks why she was pulled over. "You guys have no reason to be holding me," she says. A male agent who identifies himself as a supervisor has no explanation for the detention, but he says Cooke will have to wait for a drug-sniffing dog to inspect her car. "Well, they'd better be here soon, because if not, I'm calling 911, and this can all be figured out," Cooke says. "You guys are holding me here against my will." Eventually the female agent who first interacted with Cooke says she seemed nervous—an all-purpose excuse for detaining someone, since people tend to be nervous when confronted by armed government officials.