I’ve watched a few social media videos of metal detectorists having encounters with law enforcement over the past couple of years and , by and large, the officers involved are mostly curious about the activity we engage in. That’s normal for a police officer. We are inquisitive people and we delve a little further into something we may not be familiar with. Most times in the videos, once we understand why a guy or gal is digging in a park or along a curb strip while carrying a machine we’re not familiar with, we move on…unless there is a law, rule or statute being violated.
That’s where the rub is.
In the handful of what I hold as ‘anti-police’ metal detecting videos, detectorists have made some pretty outlandish statements and comments…followed by very imflammatory remarks by viewers who obviously hold police in very low regard. I have to think those folks have either had a bad experience with law enforcement in the past or just don’t understand the function of police in today’s societal environment.
I speak from experience, having been on both sides of this particular fence.
As a detectorist, I understand why I might be approached by a police officer. Usually, they want to know what I’m doing and, after explaining and then showing them some of the trash I’ve removed from, say, a park, they’re satisfied and tell me to have fun as they leave. The biggest suggestion I might have for folks who are approached by law enforcement is to be friendly and respectful. Don’t argue; that’s almost an invitation for trouble and you may find yourself arguing in a court of law. Some of you may invite an event such as that, but how many can afford the cost of an attorney and lost wages because you had to be away from your job in order to state your case to a judge?
I’ll be the first to say that there are bad coppers out there, just like there are bad teachers, bad doctors, bad truck drivers…you get the point. Some of these police officers or deputies have no business wearing a badge, period. Here’s what you do to combat that issue: know the law. Get permission before hunting a property. Call or visit your local government administrators and find out if you are permitted to hunt a park, curb strip or lake area, research local laws and statutes to see if metal detecting is permitted on public lands in your area. If approached by law enforcement, give them the name of the person you spoke with who gave you permission or, better still, have in your possession a signed permission document. If they still insist you leave, pack up your gear and go; you can recontact your local government administrator later and explain what happened, allowing them to correct the situation. If you feel you’ve been mistreated by the officer, call the police department or sherrif’s office and ask to speak to a supervisor.
Again, DO NOT ARGUE, period. Nothing good will come of it, and I’m sure you have a list of other locations where you know you can metal detect. Remember, if you disrespect police or give them a reason to dislike metal detectorists, you’re not only hurting yourself but also hundreds of thousands of us fellow detectorists.