Law enforcement is always mixed up with politics. It's hard to so much as mention the police without someone bringing up racism or corruption. We're not here to tackle those issues today. We're just plain not smart enough. Instead, we're here to tackle much simpler subject matter: bumbling doofus cops, and the dingus mistakes they make. Please enjoy.
If you had to sum up 1990s England with one phrase, "racial diversity" would probably not be it. That was part of the problem facing South Yorkshire police in 1997, when they wanted to put suspected blackmailer Martin Kamara in a lineup. Kamara was a 6'3", 16-stone (220 pounds), balding, middle-aged black man in a country where, at the time, white people made up roughly 94 percent of the population. This made filling out the rest of the lineup problematic.
Their solution was as elegant as it was simple: One thing that South Yorkshire didn't lack was 6'3", 16-stone, balding, middle-aged white people. You see where this is going -- yes, they did blackface. What you may not have seen coming: They did it with eight different men!
And they didn't even do it very well. The makeup "artists" didn't remember to paint the white men's hands, which made an already very desperate deception into a failure contest between stupidity and racism.
Unsurprisingly, Kamara's solicitor took one look at the "lookalikes" and "conceded that it was not a fair likeness." Kamara was identified as the criminal, but the case was thrown out of court almost immediately, after the judge described the identification procedures as "a farce." No, we liked "failure contest between stupidity and racism" better. It's not as punchy, but it's far more accurate.
Prawo Jazdy. It's a name muttered in only the darkest corners, discussed in the most hushed whispers, a predatory shadow looming over Ireland's motoring history. 2007 was the year they finally ended his war on traffic, after a nationwide operation to find the villain with over 50 violations to his name. Police had caught him many times, but he kept avoiding arrest by giving different addresses and birthdays. Yes, Prawo Jazdy was a chameleon. A true criminal mastermind.
If you take a moment to study that document, or if you speak a little Polish, you might have figured out why this is all very dumb: Prawo Jazdy is neither a criminal mastermind nor a document forger. He's not even a person. "Prawo Jazdy" is Polish for "driver's license."
On over 50 different occasions, Irish police stopped a Polish driver, asked to see their license, saw the words "Prawo Jazdy" at the top, and assumed that was the name. You've got to wonder why the Polish were uniquely affected by this idiocy, though. Why wasn't every Spaniard ticketed as "Permiso De Conduccion"? Or every Alabaman as "SEX OFFENDER"?
What's the best thing about going on vacation? The weather? The culture? The adventure? The 5 ounces of free weed you're given by airport security? Wait, wha!? *Upbeat music interrupted by record scratch*
This blunder actually occurred in 2008, when one unwitting air traveler arrived in his Tokyo hotel room, opened his bag, and discovered a container of weed worth a million yen (roughly $9,000) on the Japanese market. While this definitely sounds like the plot of a Seth Rogen film called Tokyo Tokin' or Land Of The Rising Bud, or maybe a shot-for-shot remake of Ninja 3: The Domination, we assure you it's not (yet).
The drugs were thanks to a particularly incompetent customs agent at Narita International Airport. The agent was trying to train his drug-sniffing dog, and decided the best way to do so was to turn one unwitting traveler into a mule. He found a random bag, slipped a container of illegal drugs inside, and then waited for success. His Plan A was for the dog to find the hidden cache. His Plan B was nothing.
Planting illegal drugs on customers is, unsurprisingly, against Narita Airport regulations. However, the customs officer made the compelling argument that "the dogs have always been able to find it before." It's flawless logic, right? You can check his math by taking the number of drug stashes the dogs found and subtracting that number from the drug stashes the dogs didn't fi- oh, wait. We see now. Oh man, this guy is a fucking idiot.
Of course the suitcase passed through customs with ease, because the laws of comedy are universal and unyielding. To be fair to the customs agent, he immediately admitted his mistake and began a search for the lost drugs. To be truly fair to the customs agent, he apparently hadn't paid much attention when he planted the drugs, and forgot what the bag in question looked like. And it's only a little suspicious that the guy in charge of all the illegal drugs can't remember anything and does very stupid things.
Luckily, the unwitting drug smuggler returned the contraband to airport security, and Narita Airport avoided a major incident, though not some light mockery.
Despite what you've heard about the Netherlands, it isn't the promised land of bongs and pot brownies. Their drug laws are surprisingly complex, and drug production is forbidden, which is why there's enough of a black market that narcotics-related gang violence is still an issue. So when Dutch police were tipped off about a major cannabis farm, they set out to investigate. What they discovered was an industrial-scale operation: over 47,000 cannabis plants with a street value of around $6.3 million.
The police began dismantling the farm and clearing the plants, probably while laughing to themselves about how stupid criminals could be. Who would just grow illegal drugs in the open like this? "What idiots" they must have thought to themselves as they uprooted millions of dollars' worth of plants. "Did they really think they would get away with it?" they must have asked as a University of Wageningen representative approached them.
"Wait, what?" they must have blurted as they were shown the university's official license to cultivate hemp in order to test its suitability as a replacement for cotton in the textile industry.
The study had been underway for several years, and was in the final stages before the keefstone cops showed up and ruined everything. In the end, over half the study's crop was either destroyed or rendered unsuitable for use, and so the entire project was delayed. The real kicker: The plants were unfit for drug production, as they were specifically chosen for their low content of THC. It would take you five weeks and eight human throats to get high smoking such awful weed. In the end, the police disrupted a multiyear, multi-million-dollar project to destroy a bunch of scratchy blanket materials.
There are few things more uneventful than a drug awareness assembly. They're the one thing that can make a third-grader want to go back to class and learn more cursive. But sometimes they're more excitement than anybody bargained for. Like the time a police department in Southern California accidentally sent an officer with a fully loaded AR-15 assault rifle. And that maniac left the assault rifle mounted on his bike while he went inside to give the presentation. What could go wrong?
Now, eight-year-old children aren't exactly famed for their restraint. Neither are they famed for their trigger discipline. One of the students, hoping for grade-school legend status, grabbed the rifle and pulled the trigger. No one was hit, but three students were injured by shrapnel, and one of them had to get chunks of sidewalk removed from his goddamn eye. On the upside, little Billy Henderson's name would go down in elementary school history.
Remember the '80s? Rubix Cubes and everyone wondering where the beef was? What about those wild pants made out of parachutes and zippers? And hey, remember all that wacky institutionalized homophobia? Oh, the '80s, you so crayzee!
Yes, homophobia was everywhere in the 1980s. The Navy was terrified of secret homosexuals in their ranks, so they tasked the NIS (Naval Investigative Service, or Needlessly Insecure about Sexuality) to head out to Chicago and seek out any homosexuals hidden in an institution that put fit young men in cute outfits together on boats. They had to put their best people on the case.
Unsurprisingly, in the city with the third-highest LGBT population in the U.S., the NIS did manage to find traces of the gay. They kept hearing reports of homosexuals who were "friends of Dorothy." They had to find this mysterious contact, the one woman who seemed to be connected to everyone in the underground homosexual network ... this "Dorothy."
If you've seen Arrested Development, you might already know that "friend of Dorothy" was coy old-timey slang for "gay," a reference to Judy Garland, who played Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz. The NIS absolutely did not know this, and so started a citywide manhunt for the elusive Dorothy. They were certain she(?) was at the center of the elaborate homosexual military conspiracy ... sort of like the Harriet Tubman of Navy gays.
elnavegante/iStock, Loew’s, Inc.
The whole comic enterprise culminated in a series of NIS interrogations wherein agents pretended to already know "Dorothy" in order to get information -- presumably to the endless tittering of the interrogated.
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Do you need some handcuffs? We won't ask why.
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Sometimes the stories after the stories are even stranger.
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Bawitdaba, pass the green beans.
Going for that 16th minute.