Fallout From the “Midland Incident” January 30, 2010Posted by kinzuakid in Forums, Geocaching, Geocaching.com, In the News/Blogosphere.
Tags: Another Bomb Scare for Geocaching, Bomb Scare, Bomb Threat, caleb.osborn, condor1, Forums, Midland
Approximately 3 weeks ago there was a bomb scare related to a lamppost hide in Midland, TX. This was the second incident in Midland in a year and I wrote about this in my other post Another Bomb Scare for Geocaching. I commented on the newspaper site and mentioned at the time in the blog there were many possible problems with this.
I even remarked briefly (albeit obtusely) about my own experience landing in handcuffs while Geocaching. The same thing and much worse appears to have happened in this case. I stumbled across this on the Geocaching Forums:
On Friday, January 8th of this year, I went geocaching with my son. We had a great time and found lots of geocaches. It was about time to go home when my son asked me, “Let’s go get one more geocache, Dad.” I told him that we would. On the way there, I was pulled over by the policemen and placed in handcuffs because somebody thought that I had planted a pipe bomb at Academy Sports. I explained to them that I had been geocaching. They took me back to Academy Sports where I was interviewed by a police detective. I again explained about geocaching and after they had determined that it was not a bomb but rather a geocache, they took me back to my car. A few minutes later, they arrested me for Interference with the duties of a public servant. They took me to jail until my wife could come and bail me out.
We then set about finding a lawyer to defend me. We found one; a good one. This past week, he was able to meet with the district attorney and tell her what had happened. Once the police report was filed, she immediately dismissed the charges against me under the grounds that what I had done was not a crime and did not meet the elements of the offense. That happened today, Jan. 26th. I was then able to get my gpsr, cell phone, and bond money back.
The reason I write this email is to serve as both a caution and a request for aid. The caution is that this same thing could happen to you. It was not fun, and I am very grateful that it is over with. You do not want it to happen to you, trust me. My request for aid is such that we need to brainstorm and think up ways that we can help the police officers and general public know and understand more about geocaching so that this doesn’t happen again. It may be worthwhile to let businesses know about geocaches that we may have placed on their grounds if we have not done so, and when we go to search for them to let them know that we are doing such so we don’t look suspicious. I don’t know if that would work or not, but something needs to be done. I would also like to thank all those that prayed for me or thought of me during this trying time. Thank you!
I would normally not quote the whole post here but I think it bears replication, communication and stapling printed copies of this to every cache hider’s forehead. So before I go on, credit goes to Condor1 as the OP. The letter from caleb.osborn is apparently from a friend or someone in his local Geocaching community.
The debates will rage in the forums over who was in the wrong, what can be done about it, whether the law enforcement officer was within his right to detain and arrest the Geocacher, what legal recourse is available and so on ad nauseum. This is all navel gazing after the fact, folks.
Whether you are a hider or seeker this is just another object lesson in why good, thoughtful Geocaching on both ends is so important.
Hiders: have a little consideration and use more than a little good judgment when placing a hide. If your Geocache is on private property someone clearly can be be arrested and jailed in front of their children. Would I have dropped off this LPC? Absolutely, however after this event I will now reconsider hiding any more LPCs as this kind of event has happened before. The old “you don’t have to go after every cache” argument rings hollow after this news. I hide the cache, therefore I own responsibility for whether it is a safe place to cache.
Seekers: Everybody is a muggle and muggles don’t like you. Muggles with guns and badges are the worst and they like us the least; Geocachers make them nervous because we are indistinguishable at times from a burglar. Law enforcement by and large still have no idea who Geocachers are with the exception of the forest and parks services. I have no idea how the Geocacher in this story really behaved with the officer(s) but my personal experience suggests to me it does not matter. I would avoid anything with muggle traffic in the area and no, you don’t have to go for every cache. Be safe out there! Sadly, not everyone will know tensions are high. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more scrutiny on Geocachers out there for some time.
Geez, am I only reading the bad news lately or is this an actual trend?