Last night, I was subjected to an extensive drug search at Sydney's central station after a sniffer dog plucked me out of the crowd. Over the next 20 minutes, I was made to answer questions, hand over my licence, take off my shoes, empty the contents of my bag and stand spreadeagled against a wall while a police officer patted me down; all in full view of the public. Eventually, they found what had set the dog off -- a bag of novelty garden seeds. No really.
For some reason, NSW Police thought that Wednesday evening was the perfect time to launch a drug operation on random train commuters wearily heading home from work. I was unlucky enough to be strolling past in the midst of the crackdown.
As I passed the above sniffer dog, I knew something was up: it took a whiff at me and then kind of zeroed its snout towards my jeans pocket (worryingly close to my crotch, I might add). Before I could say anything, a second police officer sprang out of nowhere and informed me that they had reason to believe I was carrying an illicit drug.
They corralled me into a corner near the CityLink staircase and proceeded to ask me about my drug habits: did I have any drugs on my person? Had I recently smoked cannabis? Had I been around people who had been smoking cannabis? Obviously, I answered in the negative each time. Meanwhile, my train was due to arrive any minute, which caused me to repeatedly glance at my phone's clock until they told me to place it on the floor. I was then made to remove my shoes and splay myself against a wall while one of the police officers patted me down. They also wrote down my name, address and mobile phone number.
These photos were taken after I'd been searched, incidentally.
Now, I have no idea whether any of the above treatment was a violation of my civil rights -- but you tend to just go with the flow when multiple police officers are telling you to do stuff. Short of being ordered to strip and bend over for a cavity search, I was going to agree to whatever they wanted. Meanwhile, hundreds of fellow commuters were gawping at me as they walked past, just as I've often done myself. Until that moment, I'd always assumed the guy getting patted down probably had something to hide.
After making me empty my pockets and fiddling about with the waistband of my jeans, the police decided to go through my bag. This was the most traumatic part; and not because I was worried they'd find anything illegal.
Y'see, my bag is like a Doctor Who Tardis specifically designed for refuse -- it's filled to bursting with all manner of weird junk, some of which dates back decades. Among the items they wordlessly pulled out were an old Amiga Power magazine from 1994, an Avengers Vs. X-Men graphic novel, a Leap Motion controller, old bills, old socks, a macaron stuffed inside a muesli bar box and a Loreal face cream for men (look, it was just a phase I was going through. Shut up.) There was also, inexplicably, a black cape. I have no idea where this came from or how it got in there.
Finally, one of the police officers found something that gave him pause.
"What's this?", he asked as his partner stepped closer, presumably to block off my escape.
At first, I had no idea what I was looking at. Then I remembered what it was. Around eight months ago, Electronic Arts sent out a bag of novelty garden seeds to promote the video game Plants vs. Zombies 2. Like everything that comes across my desk, I stuffed it in my bag and swiftly forgot about it. Now they had come back to haunt me.
"Er, they're seeds," I replied weakly. "...Normal seeds. Not drug seeds." I quickly added. The police officers both carefully examined the contents. After a few nail-biting moments, they agreed to let me go. The moral to the story is that sniffer dogs are idiots. Also, you might want to leave your horticulture gear at home during drug crackdowns. Tch.