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ID card if stopped by the police while geocaching.


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I think we need to come up with some sort of standard identification and explanation that we can show to a police officer if we are stopped while hunting for a geocache. Maybe something like an official membership card with a succinct description of the hobby. This just happened to me for the first time, after over a hundred caches found, and it spooked me. The officer, who was just doing his job diligently, had never heard of geocaching. That is not something you can easily explain in a few words especially when being grilled. I felt an air of tenseness during the encounter. I had a geocaching brochure with me but that was to general for him to get an understanding of it quickly. It would be nice if there was something official that can be presented immediately to diffuse any misunderstanding of wrong doing, like a membership ID card that says at least:

 

YOUR NAME.

I’M A GEOCACHER.

I’M USING MY GPS FOR A TREASURE HUNTING GAME.

GEOCACHER RESPECT ALL LAWS AND POLICE AUTHORITY.

I’M HARMLESS!

AND HERE'S A BREIF DESCRIPTION OF WHAT I'M DOING ...

 

I know Wikipedia has a good description of geocaching. Maybe we can get that summarized on the back of the ID card too.

 

The card could be issued by geocaching.com, if necessary for a small fee, to make it really offical.

 

Any thoughts on the idea?

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If showing a geocaching brochure didn't help, I'm not sure how an ID would work any better.

 

While I have not had the police question me yet, I have been questioned by private security, and curious neighbors. Showing a Geocaching brochure, if I had one, seems to work. Even just explaining what I'm doing seems to be just fine.

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I think we need to come up with some sort of standard identification and explanation that we can show to a police officer if we are stopped while hunting for a geocache. Maybe something like an official membership card with a succinct description of the hobby. This just happened to me for the first time, after over a hundred caches found, and it spooked me. The officer, who was just doing his job diligently, had never heard of geocaching. That is not something you can easily explain in a few words especially when being grilled. I felt an air of tenseness during the encounter. I had a geocaching brochure with me but that was to general for him to get an understanding of it quickly. It would be nice if there was something official that can be presented immediately to diffuse any misunderstanding of wrong doing, like a membership ID card that says at least:

 

YOUR NAME.

I’M A GEOCACHER.

I’M USING MY GPS FOR A TREASURE HUNTING GAME.

GEOCACHER RESPECT ALL LAWS AND POLICE AUTHORITY.

I’M HARMLESS!

AND HERE'S A BREIF DESCRIPTION OF WHAT I'M DOING ...

 

I know Wikipedia has a good description of geocaching. Maybe we can get that summarized on the back of the ID card too.

 

The card could be issued by geocaching.com, if necessary for a small fee, to make it really offical.

 

Any thoughts on the idea?

 

:unsure::ph34r::P:P:D:D:lol::lol::lol::lol::D:lol:

 

Like they are going to believe the card more than your voice? They're more likely to arrest you for thinking that they're stupid if you take that route. Just talk to them. Tell them the truth. Don't try to be sneaky. You're not doing anything illegal, so just relax. All they want to know is, what are you doing. Tell them.

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Have you had many encounters with the police before? I suspect not. Having been on both sides of police/civilian encounters I can tell you that 1) an id card issued by an unknown source has no more weight than that that brochure and 2) if you act nervous the officers suspicion level is going up a couple of notches. If you aren't breaking any laws (and weren't right?) you usually have no reason to be nervous.

 

I was stopped by the police while geocaching on one occasion when a bystander called me in as a guy with a gun. The first officer on the scene jumped from her patrol car with gun drawn. She was followed almost instantly by two more officers with weapons in hand. We ended up with six police officers on the scene. I kept my cool, complied with the officers requests, and had no problems. By the time all was said and done we all had a good laugh over it. They offered to help find the cache. I declined, enough excitement for one night.

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I certainly wasn’t doing anything illegal, just looking for a micro in an urban setting, not disturbing anything. I don’t expect to flash the card to the officer and have him immediately say “oh you’re a geocacher so no problem” but it would speed up the process of him figuring out what you are doing. He may have difficulty understanding what is going on but someone at the station, when he calls in, might know and quickly set him straight. I’m just trying to think of a way of making it easier to get the point across. We have a card for just about everything else in our wallets/purses, driver licenses, insurance cards, medical cards , etc. so why not one for geocaching? Each encounter is slightly different depending on the actual officer as per your case. No card would have helped at that instant. You’re right, after some explaining, which by the way didn’t seem to be what he wanted to hear - when I said cache he thought I meant cash, and him calling in my driver’s license he seemed satisfied but I still got the feeling he was suspicious so I didn’t stick around. He did wish me luck in finding the cache but I didn’t feel he was earnest.

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Thanks for the PDF link. I had that one with me, thinking that was how I would handle such a situation, and showed the officer but he started reading the part on how to create an account on geocaching.com and said it wasn't telling him nothing. I think we need something right to the point. The Wikipedia description I think is much better. That is the one I will now offer first if it happens again which I suspect is inevitable due to what geocaching is all about.

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Thanks for the feedback guys especially from those who served as police officers.

I guess the concept of a geocaching ID card is not practical. I never meant for it to take the place of a legal means of identification. But what is wrong with a membership card showing you belong to the club and on the back of the card a brief description of what geocaching is about. You would still use a legal ID such as driver’s license to identify yourself but as part of the explanation of what you were doing you can also volunteer the membership card.

 

Since this was my first encounter, I really got flustered trying to get the officer to understand. Next time I will know better how to carry my demeanor. Practice makes perfect.

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Like they are going to believe the card more than your voice? They're more likely to arrest you for thinking that they're stupid if you take that route. Just talk to them. Tell them the truth. Don't try to be sneaky. You're not doing anything illegal, so just relax. All they want to know is, what are you doing. Tell them.

Excellent advice!

 

I get questioned while geocaching quite frequently and that's always worked for me.

 

And, I'm not a cop but I did stay at a Holiday Inn recently... Actually, as a Youth Counselor and Case Monitor working with juveniles in our Department of Youth Services for ten years I rode with cops quite frequently. Suspicious and nervous behavior (acting "hinky") sets off their alarms. Offering some made-up ID would too. Just act naturally and relaxed, tell the truth, explain the game if you need to, let them run your ID if they want to (few do) and everything will be hunky-dory. A good humor and cooperation helps.

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Nothing wrong with it as an information card. Go ahead and print up what you feel you need. Your name and number on one side and a short description on the other. I'd avoid the ID card format. Make it more of an introduction card. Anything made to look like an identification is going to be questioned. They may also be handy when talking to land owners.

 

You can still use the brochure. Just make sure you have it folded so that the game description is showing on the first part the officer sees.

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I'm glad I asked this question! You can always learn so much from those with experience as demonstrated by the answer posted here. I feel less apprehensive thanks to the advice and look forward to finding my next cache!

One thing, I would be curious to hear more stories on how geocachers have handled encounters with the police. There have to be some real doozies to be told. Maybe we can start another topic one day just for that.

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Thanks. That was like what I was looking for!

:laughing:Here the Yuma, Arizona (Mexican Boarder)I'm approached Daily, (some days 3-4 times a day) by Boarder Patrol Officers (Doing Their Job)...........I have made a bunch of the aboved mentioned cards (Geo-caching-U) to hand out.........they seem to work ok and are recived with out a problem........As for a "Official Caching Card" Naaa, not really needed.....Note: as of June first, one will need a Pass Port to cross the line,(Mexican Boarder coming back into the U.S.) no more Birth certifacate and picture ID

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We've encountered the authorities twice while caching. One was a wildlife officer, a.k.a. game warden, and he saw us hanging out by a small bridge on a dirt road looking for a cache. We explained geocaching and he had heard of it before, although he looked at us like we had lobsters coming out of our ears. After verifying that we had signed the log-in sheet for the area, he was happy to go his way and leave us to look for the cache.

 

The other one was when we were looking for a cache in a park while about 150 soccer moms and their kids swarmed the area for a soccer game. We were trying to look inconspicuous but it's hard to rummage around in the bushes near the parking area without drawing some attention with that many people around. He was a plain clothes officer and did not identify himself as such. He just came over and said he noticed that it looked like we were looking for something and offered to help us look. We explained caching to him (he hadn't heard of it before) and he helped us look for about 15 minutes or so. After we finally decided to give it up and log a DNF, he explained that he was actuallly a LEO and had his K9 partner in his car a few parking spaces down. He said he liked to play a game of hide and seek with his K9 and bad guys! He thanked us for explaining the game to him and headed out with his partner.

 

To agree with other opinions here, I don't think an ID badge would do much better than a brochure. And as others have said, it may actually draw negative attention if it looks like some kind of fake ID.

Edited by Stargazer22
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Not that long ago, my GeoBuddy and I were visited by a local police officer.

 

Turns out we were just returning from a cache that was placed a little closer to a Northrop Grumman facility than the officer was comfortable with. It wasn't on their property, but in the woods on the side of the public road leading to their property.

 

I can assure you, that the only card he was interested in was my Driver's License. :laughing:

 

Having said that, we offered him an explanation and gave him a brouchure, and after writing down all our information in a notebook, he still seemed hesitant. Since we had already found the cache I offered to show it to him to offer more evidence that we were legit. He grabbed a camera and followed us to the site, where I slowly retireved and opened the ammo box to expose a collection of bagged plush toys and various trinkets.

 

This was the first smile we saw, and then the conversation drifted more to... "so, if I wanted to find out how to do this, I can just go to this website here?" We apologized for causing him trouble, and went on to more in the area. We figured he knew what we were up to now, so might as well!

 

Funny part was, just last week my buddy (who lives in that area) emailed me the following message:

 

I was browsing the local police reports online. I found this:

 

"Sykesville Police Department, Friday, November 28, 2008, Officer responded to Route 32 North of Sandosky Road for reported suspicious condition."

 

I'm pretty sure that was our geocaching experience.

 

Too funny! Mom! Dad! I am in the papers! :lol:

Edited by kraushad
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We are new to geocaching and have not had any run-in's yet, but we did find a cache that contained a business card of an officer that had been called to the location for a "suspicious persons call". We had a good laugh and put it back in the chache. But I guess if you are the person being questioned its not so funny. TY for the links to the cards, printing them off as I type lol

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Under US law, you are not required to present ID unless you are in a building which requires it, or operating a vehicle/machine and are requested to show your license to to do so.

 

If a LEO asks you who you are, what you're doing, etc just give them your name and tell them you are participating in a treasure hunting hobby.

 

No more information, verbal or through ID, is required of you.

 

The officer can get as huffy as they like, and make all the threats in the book, but the constitution entitles you to be free of this harassment when obeying the law.

 

If you are on public land, you have no need to do any further.

 

Creating some sort of GC-ID card only furthers the problem, and continues to perpetuate the myth that you most don an ID wherever you go.

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While this may be true, I'd rather not give the LEO any reason to (1) be more suspicious or (2) hate Geocachers.

 

I also like getting home on time for dinner. :laughing:

 

I just don't see any reason not to comply and present your ID if asked to do so - unless you are a criminal with outstanding warrants... then I understand.

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I totally agree, and I think that's the route most people would understandably take,

 

But likewise, I don't believe honest, law-abiding citizens should fear invoking their rights.

 

If more people stood their ground and utilized their rights, they wouldn't be so quick to slip away and LEO's wouldn't take it as some sort of a challenge. Enforcing your rights should never be a threat to any officer.

 

If its the law they're trying to uphold, they should be delighted when a fellow citizen is familiar with it; if they're not delighted, then I'd question their motives and what it is they are really upholding.

 

(Not to derail the thread, but I just wanted to emphasize that acknowledging your Constitutional rights should never be seen as a challenge to an officer. If they make unlawful demands, he/she is challenging you, and your rights are all you have.)

Edited by stevensj2
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One of the most useful things I ever learned in these forums was just to be truthful when approached by officials (especially law enforcement). Since we play a game that involves stealth I think it's natural to want to protect the cache and I've made up many stories when approached by non-cachers.

 

There are times when honesty is a better idea than creativity.

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I have found this brochure is really nice (if you haven't seen it before): http://www.gpsmaze.com/uploads/files/GEOCACH_F2.pdf

 

Yeah, you're right that is a nice brochure. How do we get them?? I hesitate to use all that expensive color ink on my home printer for each one. Can you order like 10 or 20 of them preprinted?

:laughing:What I did (do) is I printed one sheet of the Geo-U cards (not the brochure)....took it up to staples and had them run me off a batch........dadgum site cheaper than I can do it (65# card Stock and the Ink)........... :lol:

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Who is the one that gives police officers their pep talk before their shift begins? It doesn't seem to me it would hurt for geocaching enthusiasts to provide the State Police barracks nearest to them with a couple flyers to make them aware of the hobby with a brief explanatory note. Send them through the postal service. You wouldn't even have to sign your name to anything. You'd not only be helping yourself, but you'd be helping your fellow geocachers.

 

Maybe wearing an article of fluorescent orange, green, or pink clothing would be an indicator that you aren't trying to be stealth about anything. I think my personal preference would be fluorescent orange like my husband used to wear when he worked for the highway department.

 

Now I'll go and read everyone else's responses to this thread. :laughing:

Edited by Chattykin
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One of the most useful things I ever learned in these forums was just to be truthful when approached by officials (especially law enforcement). Since we play a game that involves stealth I think it's natural to want to protect the cache and I've made up many stories when approached by non-cachers.

 

There are times when honesty is a better idea than creativity.

Oh, we DO want to be stealth?

Does that mean wearing fluorescent clothing is out of the question?

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I totally agree, and I think that's the route most people would understandably take,

 

But likewise, I don't believe honest, law-abiding citizens should fear invoking their rights.

 

If more people stood their ground and utilized their rights, they wouldn't be so quick to slip away and LEO's wouldn't take it as some sort of a challenge. Enforcing your rights should never be a threat to any officer.

 

If its the law they're trying to uphold, they should be delighted when a fellow citizen is familiar with it; if they're not delighted, then I'd question their motives and what it is they are really upholding.

 

(Not to derail the thread, but I just wanted to emphasize that acknowledging your Constitutional rights should never be seen as a challenge to an officer. If they make unlawful demands, he/she is challenging you, and your rights are all you have.)

 

hear, hear, and well-said.

 

rah-boo. nicely played.

 

my favorite LEO encounter can be found here.

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I totally agree, and I think that's the route most people would understandably take,

 

But likewise, I don't believe honest, law-abiding citizens should fear invoking their rights.

 

If more people stood their ground and utilized their rights, they wouldn't be so quick to slip away and LEO's wouldn't take it as some sort of a challenge. Enforcing your rights should never be a threat to any officer.

 

If its the law they're trying to uphold, they should be delighted when a fellow citizen is familiar with it; if they're not delighted, then I'd question their motives and what it is they are really upholding.

 

(Not to derail the thread, but I just wanted to emphasize that acknowledging your Constitutional rights should never be seen as a challenge to an officer. If they make unlawful demands, he/she is challenging you, and your rights are all you have.)

 

hear, hear, and well-said.

 

rah-boo. nicely played.

 

my favorite LEO encounter can be found here.

 

Completely agree as well. However as far as giving an ID, you may or may not be required to do this based on state law so refusal to provide ID should be done only when you're absolutely sure that this doesn't go against state law. Also, if stopped as the driver of a vehicle you are required to provide identification. Again, in some states, passengers may be required as well. You are NEVER required to answer any questions other than your name. Unfortunately there has been an erosion of perception in this case over time in which refusal to answer questions or consent to search is an implication of guilt. This is absolutely not the case but if you're concerned with causing the least kerfuffle possible, especially when you've done nothing wrong, the cooperation/openness route is good.

 

The ACLU has provided a good summary of what to do if stopped by a LEO here. It's an interesting read and useful to know your rights.

 

I think the best strategy is to be open and honest about geocaching because if nothing else, telling the truth is the easiest and also will educate the officers about the game and hopefully spare other cachers similar uncomfortable situations.

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Under US law, you are not required to present ID unless you are in a building which requires it, or operating a vehicle/machine and are requested to show your license to to do so.

 

If a LEO asks you who you are, what you're doing, etc just give them your name and tell them you are participating in a treasure hunting hobby.

 

No more information, verbal or through ID, is required of you.

 

The officer can get as huffy as they like, and make all the threats in the book, but the constitution entitles you to be free of this harassment when obeying the law.

 

If you are on public land, you have no need to do any further.

 

Creating some sort of GC-ID card only furthers the problem, and continues to perpetuate the myth that you most don an ID wherever you go.

I believe you also need to show ID if you are suspected of committing a crime. Ask them if you are. If they say no then ask if you are free to go. If you are not suspected then they must let you leave.

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I had an encounter today as I was exiting the woods. After he asked what i was doing I started in with a description of Geocaching that would have made a great public service message. I smiled and with a tone of excitement I explained that I was Geocaching. A tech sport that incorperates using a GPSr, some interest in hide and seek and a willingness to enjoy the outdoors. I gave the chain of events from the hide to the seek to the show and tell. I made sure to include a healthy dose of "As Geocentric sports enthusiasts we are hoping to promote a n awareness of our greenspace and a love of the outdoors through a family oriented game that can be played by anyone of any of any age". I forgot to include a quick addition of CITO and how Cache In Trash Out event help clean up our environment. I knew he was hooked when he started asking what he needed to get started and how much it cost. He was surprised t hear the cost depended on how much he wanted to spend on a GPSr. If I'm out enjoying my sport of choice, I'm happy to explain to anyone what I'm all about, as I'm stealthily guiding them away from the location of the cache that is. They want to get involved, they'll have to find it for themselves.

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Interesting evolution of a thread. From police encounters to fellow cacher encounters. I've never had much trouble spotting the fellow cachers in the park. They are the ones looking inside the hollow tree at GZ.

 

Well, that isn't entirely true. My very first hunt I sat on a bench for half an hour before I realized that the guys sitting on the bench I wanted to search was talking into an Etrex Legend cell phone. One of those "DOH!" moments.

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Interesting evolution of a thread. From police encounters to fellow cacher encounters. I've never had much trouble spotting the fellow cachers in the park. They are the ones looking inside the hollow tree at GZ.

 

Well, that isn't entirely true. My very first hunt I sat on a bench for half an hour before I realized that the guys sitting on the bench I wanted to search was talking into an Etrex Legend cell phone. One of those "DOH!" moments.

 

I needed that LOL moment :) ty

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Hand me a card like that and I would call for back-up. :laughing:

 

I was thinking the same thing.

 

I have two forms of photo ID, and I'm taking part in a lawful activity based on the cache owner's word that I have adequate permission to be where I am and do what I'm doing. A homemade ID card or Li'l Orphan Annie secret decoder ring sounds like I think I'm up to no good and need to justify myself.

 

Nice zombie thread, by the way, Luis.

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I have found this brochure is really nice (if you haven't seen it before): http://www.gpsmaze.c.../GEOCACH_F2.pdf

 

Yeah, you're right that is a nice brochure. How do we get them?? I hesitate to use all that expensive color ink on my home printer for each one. Can you order like 10 or 20 of them preprinted?

:laughing:What I did (do) is I printed one sheet of the Geo-U cards (not the brochure)....took it up to staples and had them run me off a batch........dadgum site cheaper than I can do it (65# card Stock and the Ink)........... :lol:

I helped with a geocaching booth at a local street fair a few years ago, and thought having a supply of those brochures might come in handy. I took the PDF file to an area print shop and had them print me 100 copies. I don't remember exactly how much it cost, but it was no more than $20 or so. The brochures were a big hit; we ran out of them in just a few hours.

 

--Larry

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I was walking down an alley with a friend of mine (on the way to the store) many years back. When a cop car came roaring up at us, he swung open his door, crouched down behind it, and pointed a gun at the two of us yelling "Get your hands up! Up against the wall!! ".. which we did pretty dadgum fast.. He then sat there for 30 seconds listening to his radio.

 

He heard something that interested him, got back into his car and drove off..

 

We sat there for a couple of minutes.. with our hands up against the wall, watching his dust trail disappear.

 

Eventually we left that wall and continued on the way to the store.

 

You just don't know what these cops have going on. Remember they are people, and that you are tying to put them at ease. I personally don't want to see a formal card made up because it's just as likely that someone who is "up to no good" could end up using one of these cards to try and pass themselves off as one of us.

 

We just don't need to make that easy for them.

 

Shaun

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