Several years ago, it had been a long day. Nothing drastic, but a lot of hours. I helped close the school house at about 11:00 p.m on a Friday night, got in my pickup truck to head home.
My habit was then, and is now, to click the little button that lets my radio scan frequencies as I drive home. I'm officially "off-the clock" on the drive home, but I couldn't live with myself if one of my brethren was in a bind and I drove past him or her on my way home, so I scan the radio traffic as I go home and turn the radio off when I'm in my driveway.
As I crossed the river, I heard the dispatcher looking for free units. A citizen had called in a disturbamce that was about to occur at a taco joint in a strip mall on the north end of the parish. The strip mall was well-known for having a taco shop, a late night greeting spot for high-shcool and young adults. As the radio traffic cleared up the situation, it seemed that a bunch of high-shcool kids were going to settle some differences in the parking lot of the taco shop.
"What the hell," thought I. "I'm hungry, and a taco sounds like a good way to end the evening." So, I headed for the taco shop. When I got to the parking lot, I saw two units, clearing the area. I happened to notice one older redneck, sitting on the tailgate of his pickup truck. A young deputy was talking to him, and it appeared that he was being obstinate.
I walked over and as I approached I heard the old redneck telling the young deputy that this was a public place and he didn't have to go anywhere. He intended to sit right there, all night.
The young deputy greeted me, and asked what I was doing out so late. I told him that I had been working a detail, and thought I'd come eat a taco. "Let me talk to this guy." I asked.
"I ain't going nowhere!" the old redneck exclaimed.
"Well, sir, maybe you are, and maybe you aren't." I made firm eye contact with him. "You see, it all depends on whether this parking lot is private property or a public space." I paused for a moment to let that sink in. "Now, I'm going to go in and get myself a taco. While I'm there, I'm going to talk to the manager. If he tells me that this is private property, then when I come out with my taco, if you're still here, I'm going to arrest you for trespassing."
"If it turns out, " I continued, "that this is public property, then when I come out, I'm going to arrest you for Resisting an Officer." I took a few seconds to let that sink in. "But, I'm hungry, and I want a taco. So, however this turns out, when I come out of the restaurant and you're still here, you're going to jail. And, we're going to tow your truck."
As I walked toward the taco shop, I winked at the young deputy. When I came out, munching on a taco, the old redneck and the pickup truck were no where to be seen.
It's all in how you explain it to people.