By Catharina Furnes
This Saturday I went to a friend’s house in St. Paul. We had a great night, and she gave me a ride back home after midnight. After driving for a couple of minutes a police car came up behind us. Not realizing it was us he wanted to talk to, we tried to get out of his way but he kept following us, putting on the lights and siren and we stopped He walked to our car and asked for drivers license and registration. He told us that we took a wide turn and that we were driving on a red light, which we were not. When he saw my friend's drivers license he said that registration is not neccesary. He asked how long we've been here and told us to drive safely and have a good night.
My thought after this went back to the article we talked about in class the other day about the numbers of people being stopped by the police in New York City (Herbert, 2010).
I wonder if he would have given us a ticket if we weren't white women from Norway. There was obviously a reason why he felt he had to stop us, and for some reason he let us go very easily. Would the same thing happen if we were two African American men? Would he give us a ticket for what he meant was driving on a red light? He just looked at us, did not do an alcohol test, did not look at all the papers he should have looked at and he did not give us a ticket. After the dialogues and lessons we've had in class it made me think that this was discrimination and that I was lucky to be a white girl in this situation.
It also surprised me that it seemed like he made up a reason to pull us over. I know that you can't do random check ups in the States so I feel like the police just made up a reason to do it. In Norway the police can stop whomever they want and do random alcohol tests or whatever they want. I believe that this can prevent a lot of traffic crimes.
My conclusion is that I do believe that we got of easily because we are white girls, and maybe also because we are Norwegian. I do not believe that this would have made any difference to the police in Norway but on the other side I don't think they would have pulled us over in the first place. If they were driving next to us and saw us driving on a yellow light I do not think they would care. The only reason why they would have stopped us is that they had a random check, and they don’t do those if they are driving. The way they do it is that they park their car somewhere and pull over random cars to either check that the driver has a drivers license or do an alcohol test (http://www.brake.org/). I find it interesting that American police have to have a reason to pull someone over. I think random checks make people think twice about drinking and driving because they know that there is a chance that they’ll be pulled over even if they drive “carefully” (http://www.executiveplanet.com) (This link gives a lot of interesting facts about Norway and how we do things, but the two last paragraphs are about drinking and driving).
Herbert, B. (2010). Jim Crow Policing. Opinion. New York Times. 2/1/2010http://www.executiveplanet.com/index.php?title=Norway:_An_Introduction_to_Norway