A Washington state sheriff’s deputy was in for a surprise last week after being flagged down by a local resident.
The incident began last Saturday when liberty activist and former congressional candidate Gavin Seim noticed a Grant County deputy driving an unmarked vehicle.
According to Washington state law RCW 46.08.065, no law enforcement officer is permitted to use an unmarked vehicle unless in accordance with undercover work.
It is unlawful for any public officer having charge of any vehicle owned or controlled by any county, city, town, or public body in this state other than the state of Washington and used in public business to operate the same upon the public highways of this state unless and until there shall be displayed upon such automobile or other motor vehicle in letters of contrasting color not less than one and one-quarter inches in height in a conspicuous place on the right and left sides thereof, the name of such county, city, town, or other public body, together with the name of the department or office upon the business of which the said vehicle is used.
After requesting the deputy’s identification, Seim laid out his reasoning for the stop while confirming that the officer was not in compliance.
“You seem to be doing something that is clearly in violation of Washington state law,” Seim says.
The deputy, appearing somewhat annoyed by the encounter, responds by accusing Seim of “playing games.”
“This isn’t a game, it’s called law,” Seim responds.
The interaction, which continues for more than 15 minutes, exemplifies what a healthy encounter should look like between peace officers and their employers.
Unmarked vehicles are a ripe opportunity for confusion in a citizens reaction and for criminals to impersonate lawful authority to get people to stop. People have been raped and even murdered because of this, so the law is good sense. In WA, all municipal and police vehicles must be marked UNLESS they fall under special exemptions. These exemptions do not apply to patrol vehicles. In fact there’s even WA State court precedent where a man fled police and his felony charge was thrown out because the pursuing vehicle was not properly marked. Pretty interesting.
Seim, who has had several other widely-viewed encounters with police, joins a growing number of people attempting to keep public employees accountable.
Whether negative or positive, such videos will undoubtedly increase as Americans take a greater interest in the rule of law and their constitutional rights.