Minnesota State Troopers Got Occupy Activists High, For Research

  is our police officers learning?

just hanging out!

Minnesota State Patrol had a great idea, seeing as they are bored and hate everyone, particularly Occupy protesters? The Occupy protesters are just hanging around the central location of Peavey Plaza, causing problems, wasting cardboard, not getting jobs, so in lieu of beating them with a stick, the police department decided it would work better to “recruit” these useless individuals, feed them marijuana and possibly other drugs, then observe their behavior as part of a police “training” program that teaches state patrol officers what different kinds of intoxication look like. Others were apparently given weed if they would simply rat on fellow protesters. It was very exciting for some Occupiers, because their title was suddenly High Police Informant. “I smoked with a cop,” said a man who identified himself as Panda, and it was “some of the best shit I’ve had in a while.”

For most victims of this experiment it was described as just creepy and weird, and so these people were happy to be part of a documentary put together by Communities United Against Police Brutality and other groups.

One guy told the filmmakers that he was given a bowl of weed to smoke, and then was basically let loose in downtown Minneapolis, “visibly intoxicated.” According to CityPages, he then:

dangerously climbed to the top of a large sign near Peavey Plaza sitting 15 feet above the sidewalk, swinging his arms and legs. The man said that on another occasion, officers expressed disappointment that he was only high on weed. Officers told him they were “looking for something more harder (sic), someone to do meth or coke or something. I’ve never told a cop this before, but I said ‘fuck you, I don’t touch that,’” the man said.

This week, the Minneapolis City Council heard from several people involved. One witness came in the form of a mom, who said she was “very upset because her son had been given free drugs by a police officer when he went out to participate in what he thought would be social action in a public plaza to help improve his community and country,” in the words of Councilman Cam Gordon.

According to a woman who participated in the research, this is a real, official, taxpayer-funded thing. The police are “trying to observe the characteristics of certain drugs so when [police] pull people over they know what they’re looking at,” she told the documentary filmmakers. It’s called the Drug Recognition Evaluator program, and it’s run by the Minnesota State Patrol. And here’s the whole 35-minute documentary:

For now, the Minnesota State Patrol says, via Lieutenant Eric Roeske, that, “We’re aware of the video and the allegations made by individuals in the video and we’re looking into it.” A police inspector at this week’s City Council meeting added that, “the program that I know is not how it’s described.”

Roeske also told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the program usually tries to find people who are “already intoxicated,” and then, well, what, asks them what they’re on? And hopes they’re telling the truth? How do these reports go, then? Officer X observed that when intoxicated with just about anything, subject ran very far away from law enforcement personnel. X concluded that all drugs cause individuals to be fearful. X will now be on the lookout for anyone moving hurriedly away from law enforcement personnel, and will arrest them. [CityPages/Minneapolis Star Tribune]

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About the author

Liz is a writer. She has written for this site, evidently, and also The Awl, The San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, The Economist and others. She is the author of a short story collection, Cover Story.

View all articles by Liz Colville

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110 comments

  1. Terry

    " the police department decided it would work better to “recruit” these useless individuals, feed them marijuana and possibly other drugs, then observe their behavior as part of a police “training” program that teaches police officers what different kinds of intoxication look like."

    Wow, the cops paid for these folks' drugs. Bravo.

    If any police departments would like to observe the effects of expensive champagne on middle aged women, they should call me immediately. Additionally, I'd be happy to demonstrate the effects of shopping at fancy stores if they are willing to foot the bill.

    1. Lascauxcaveman

      Wow, the cops paid for these folks' drugs. Bravo.

      Probably just "borrowed" the weed from the evidence room. Like they do most Friday nights.

  2. el_donaldo

    I volunteer to have the police get me get high and observe me as I watch The Avengers. That way they can see how I react to extreme crimefighting techniques while I have my buzz on.

    1. memzilla

      That way they can see how I react to extreme crimefighting techniques…

      And, catsuits!

  3. Reginald_Perrin

    Some things never change…In the early 80's I used to buy my smoke from Detroit cops,some had an unlimited supply that they "confiscated" at concerts.

  4. Stevola

    They don't know what people look like when they're high? Didn't they ever see Reefer Madness?

    1. actor212

      For some reason, I read that as "harshing one's elbow."

      I just got off the plane from Minneapolis, in fairness. I must be tired…

  5. Steverino247

    You can't win a War on Drugs when the leaders on your side are complete dipshits.

  6. MissTaken

    I'm not high, Officer. I'm just giving you the valuable opportunity of observing the characteristics of someone high.

    1. memzilla

      [Edit}

      I'm high... but it's on police orders, Officer.

      (Be sure to ... ahem ... show your papers.)

  7. prommie

    The cops should have hired them some prostitutes too, that would have been the bestest experiment! I would volunteer to be a participant in any "weed and blowjobs" observations that they may want to perform.

    1. Boojum

      I've only met one cop that I would have wanted to blow me, even though I frequently invite them to do so, in my head, silently.

  8. actor212

    In a related story, cops decided to investigate police brutality and hired some Occupy protestors off the streets of Oakland…

  9. bikerlaureate

    DRE is a real program (nationwide), but you'd think there's no end of video recordings already.

    How do you accept an offer like that in Minneapolis without expecting immediate arrest from the same cop who fronted you the stuff?

    1. margaret3786

      1. The Minneapolis cops are not participating in DRE.

      2. The subjects are all very young and are more trusting of adults including law enforcement officers, than they ought to be.

      1. bikerlaureate

        1. Ah. I wonder about any urban PD that doesn't participate. I thought there used to be grants to encourage it, and the initial costs wouldn't seem to be prohibitive anyway. That program seemed to be one of the better collective ideas, to me, so that untrained cops aren't jumping to the wrong conclusion about what they're observing…

        2. I hate to say "parenting fail," but that's what keeps occurring to me.

        1. margaret3786

          You are literally correct. Most of these young people are from the youth shelter nearby or are wards of the state in one way or another.

          One had a mother who called her city council representative and complained. But almost none of these kids have parents who care about them. I mean that literally. They have no family support of any kind.

          I'm not saying this to blame the parents; I'm just stating a sociological fact.

  10. MissTaken

    I'm curious, just how many Wonketteers are currently making their way to Peavey Plaza in search of "some of the best shit [they've] had in a while”?

  11. UnholyMoses

    "Drug Recognition Evaluator program"

    It's the "Dre Program" … ?

    The Dr. would be so proud.

  12. SorosBot

    So wait, all I have to do if I want to get high is go up to a cop and ask for some pot?

    1. margaret3786

      Well, not just any cop. It has to be one of the ones in the tan uniforms. And they only run these training exercises twice a year. They took a couple days off, but they're supposed to be back today.

      But I don't know — maybe all the publicity scared them off. (The cops, I mean. The kids are shameless.)

  13. UnholyMoses

    Oh, and I've never known any stoner who would do something like climb a sign — at least not ONLY when high. They'd do it sober, also.

    So, yeah. Reefer Madness-levels of ignorance/stupidity about pot strike again …

    1. Lascauxcaveman

      You got that right. Climb to the top that sign straight and it's a bit of a hoot, maybe a good exercise for improving your parkour skilz. Getting down is a 15 ft slide/drop with an easy shoulder roll exit and you're off and running.

      Do it stoned and it's OH FUCK FUCK FUCK I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M UP THIS HIGH OH SHIT HOW AM I GONNA GET DOWN!?

      1. margaret3786

        Too bad we didn't hear how he got down. But he was just fine when he showed up to testify before the Public Safety Committee of the Council. I mean, he wasn't limping or anything.

        We had more trouble with the group that wanted to play Capture the Flag after dark. One of them ended up on crutches.

  14. larrykat

    Those cops should just keep an eye on the Minnesota Vikings coaching staff – they payed 25 million for a 40-year old penis-texting, Crocs-wearing redneck to play, how you say, "fuhtball" for them for 2 years. Someone was fucking high.

    1. MissTaken

      That was one of the ugliest penii I have ever seen. I'm glad I wasn't high when I saw it.

  15. Arken

    This might all be true, but I find it a little hard to trust the eyewitness testimony of a guy named Panda.

  16. Baconzgood

    Baconz has no time to snark today. God Damn office/meeting/client SHIT! But know that Wonkette is in my heart and mind.

  17. OldWhiteLies

    "One witness came in the form of a mom … "

    And one came in the form of a __________________.

    1. UnholyMoses

      "And one came in the form of a __________________" …

      … an Elephant, while her husband took the form of a bucket of water.

      Oh, wait. Those were the Wonder Twins.

      Nevermind.

  18. BornInATrailer

    As much as I'd like to, for lols, having some trouble buying this story.

  19. Boojum

    Honestly, in order to get a clean result from this experiment, they should only recruit subjects who are severely conservative Republicans and Teahadists and neophyte dope smokers.

    Besides, funnier video, with more explosions and anal.

  20. Generation[redacted]

    Don't they already know that it looks like an egg frying in a skillet? They had their chance to ask any questions back in the 1980s.

  21. DerrickWildcat

    Wanna know something weird? You know who is largely responsible for going after the occupiers in my town? Julie Schmit-Albin.
    http://twitter.com/#!/Jschmitalbin
    She is a bad person and is the chief lobbyist for Nebraska Right to Life. She is very angry at the Occupiers because they are smarter than she is and because they keep finding loopholes in the law that allow them to camp out downtown. She had not thought of these great ideas for her group of wired hair goblins to hold protests. So she has been very busy denigrating them in the papers because they make her look like fool.

      1. Generation[redacted]

        And she's going to Sturgis! Wonder if she'll enter that Miss Biker beauty contest?

  22. Generation[redacted]

    Other related police projects:

    "The tazed-suspect identification program."
    "How to recognize a face full of pepper spray."
    "Have you been kicked in the nuts? Here's how you can tell."

  23. Toomush_Infer

    So, i guess….Come On Down to the Occupy Headquarters in Minneapolis, dudes!….

  24. An_Outhouse

    When I smoke a bowl of weed I turn into a Koala Bear. Just give me a big fistful of eucalyptus leaves. I couldn't climb something and swing my arms if I wanted to. You go, Panda. You're the bear!

  25. randcoolcatdaddy

    Ah … it all makes sense now. The handouts to CEOs and banks … it was just a test as part of the Justice Department's Douche Recognition Program …

    1. HistoriCat

      I'm pretty sure you start whining that the President needs to give a speech telling the little people to be nice to you.

  26. widestanceromance

    Now, this is the sort of giving-back-to-the-community outreach program that could change hearts and minds. Steal the citizens' drugs and then give [some of?] them back to see how the citizens behave while intoxicated. Then, mandatorily test for drug use. Brilliant. Governor Rick Scott is watching. . .

  27. OneYieldRegular

    The police are “trying to observe the characteristics of certain drugs so when [police] pull people over they know what they’re looking at.”

    A likely story. If cops have this little familiarity with drugs and with "what they're looking at" when they pull someone over, then they're either in the wrong job or the wrong country.

    Also, occupiers, this movement is doomed if you're so unfocused as to respond to a cop waving a bag of marijuana and saying, "Look! Shiny!"

    1. margaret3786

      We're talking about Minnesota.

      In general, cops recognize when there is something wrong with a person's performance. The question is, it chemically induced, or is it a medical problem?

      There is a test for inebriation: it is called a breathalizer test. But what if an obviously impaired driver blows a 0? How does an officer figure out if drugs are involved or if there is some other type of problem? That is what DRE is about.

      The officers participating are mostly from rural areas. They are very familiar with alcohol intoxication, but not as familiar with other kinds of intoxicants. City cops are not participating in this program. But the fact that the subjects were picked up in downtown Minneapolis means that someone in the Minneapolis Police Department certainly approved this activity, as well as approving the location — Peavey Park, an area laid claim to by one section of Occupy Minneapolis.

  28. ElPinche

    We didn't see stories like this during the Tea Party Kock fests because corn syrup is legal.

    LEGALLLYYYYYZZZE IT .

  29. margaret3786

    1. The Minnesota State Patrol is not bored and does not hate everyone. They don't beat people with sticks. Occupy is mainly not their concern except when they come to the State Capitol.

    2. The Minneapolis police frequently hit people with sticks, but they haven't used sticks on any Occupiers, yet. (Although they did engage in unnecessary roughness on April 7th. http://www.occupyminneapolis.mn/news/reoccupy-arr… ) Anyhow, the Minneapolis police do not participate in the DRE program. This was all county sheriff's and State Patrol.

    3. The subjects in the video are all under 25. Some of them are from the YouthLink shelter nearby. Some of them may not be 18. I'm not sure if the officers actually checked their I.D.'s.

    The subjects know the people who made the documentary and trust them. That's why they were willing to talk to them. Likewise, the videographers know the subjects at least a little bit (and in Panda's case, more than a little bit) and have no reason to disbelieve what they say.

    The subjects seem to trust adults general and have no particular fear of law enforcement officials. For their part, even the law enforcement officials seems to be awfully trusting. Must be something about Minnesota. (I gotta tell you, experienced activists and experienced officers do not act this way!)

    4. Panda has a sense of humor and there is no particular reason to believe he is an informant. However, he may be subjected to police pressure and harrassment in the future as he has been in the past.

    5. All joking aside, there are ethical rules concerning the use of human beings in experiments and the DRE runs afoul of most of them.

    1. Negropolis

      Marge, it's all well and good to add and additional bit of context, but from your other posts on this very thread, it seems that you've nearly entirely forgotten where you are. This is Wonkette; a little snark would be nice instead of these overly-insistent lectures.

      1. margaret3786

        Wonkette — that's a column for smart people, right?

        I thought you'd enjoy it more if you knew what was really going on.

        This isn't Oakland — it's more like Fargo.

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