back to article Man jailed for 3 days after Texas cops confuse cat litter for meth

Spare a thought for Ross LeBeau, who spent three days in jail when Texas cops confused cat litter for methamphetamine during a routine traffic stop. Although LeBeau has since been released without charge, he claims to have lost work as a result of the arrest, and is upset at the damage to his reputation. The Houston man had …

  1. ukgnome

    Takes the piss doesn't it

    1. Joe User

      ukgnome: Takes the piss doesn't it

      And clumps nicely, too!

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        ukgnome: Takes the piss doesn't it

        And clumps nicely, too!

        Depends on the sort you use. We use the compressed wood pellet stuff - once the (ahem) solids have been removed, the used sawdust goes into the compost heap as an aid to compostification..

        1. Truckle The Uncivil

          If you are composting it, why remove the "solids"? Would they not significantly increase both quality and speed of composting?

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "Widespread evidence shows that these tests routinely produce false positives. Why are police departments and prosecutors still using them?"

    It's not using them that's the problem, it's relying on them. They would appear to be presumptive tests, an indication that they should be followed up with something more time-consuming, elaborate and, most importantly, reliable.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Clearly someone doesn't know what a presumptive test is.

      It's a test which is quick and easy and responds positively to what you're looking for plus possibly quite a few other things. e.g. there are several presumptive tests for blood which are actually tests for peroxidase* activity, blood being one of several substances, including fruit juices, which have this property. So although a stain might give a positive result one would have to follow it up with a more specific test for blood. In my day it would have been an immunoelectrophoretic test which would have confirmed whether it was blood but also blood of the species (usually human) that you were testing for.

      The key thing is that all it does is tell you to look further. It is not of evidential value.

      *We discarded one of these as a component of the kit was known to be carcinogenic. I wasn't happy when years later I discovered from my daughter that it was still being used with enzyme-linked antibodies as a microscopy stain.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        You've used some long words there.

        There is however a simple test for kitty litter:

        Take suspect substance. Weigh it. Place sample on a piece of mesh or sieve. Drench in water for a few minutes. Weigh it again. If it now weighs roughly thirty times more than before, sample is likely to be silica kitty litter.

        I'm assuming that the driver was using silica kitty litter to keep his windscreen demisted, as it is more effective than clay-based litter. Also, clay-based litter is even harder to mistake for crystal meth (of which I know little, but assume looks kinda crystally).

        I say assume, but you never know [Link to Reg article about fire in US nuclear waste storage facility caused by someone using organic matter-based kitty litter instead of the good stuff]

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          There is however a simple test for kitty litter:

          Take suspect substance. Weigh it. Place sample on a piece of mesh or sieve. Drench in water for a few minutes. Weigh it again. If it now weighs roughly thirty times more than before, sample is likely to be silica kitty litter.

          Well, if the cops use that method, the kitty litter becomes a great place to hide meth.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "It's not using them that's the problem, it's relying on them."

      Relying on them AND issuing press releases vilifying people based on the results before trial.

      Innocent until proven guilty and all that kind of thing.

      Many compensation claims are ambulance chasing, but in this case he really should be taking them for everything they have and then some.

      1. DropBear Silver badge
        Trollface

        "Innocent until proven guilty"

        Ehhh, that's so pre-truth...

  3. James 51 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Houston has been at the centre of a scandal regarding the $2 roadside drug tests, which have been alleged to be sending tens of thousands of folk to jail on an annual basis, despite their proclivity for producing false positives.

    The large number of positives is probably the reason why they are being used (that and they are $2, all that money they can legally steal during 'routine' stops will only go so far). Probably still gets recorded as a justified arrest, court appearance fees and is an oppertunity to ask drivers to empty their wallets (http://www.forbes.com/sites/instituteforjustice/2014/03/12/cops-use-traffic-stops-to-seize-millions-from-drivers-never-charged-with-a-crime/#31a412e646ae).

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Nothing beats Reverse Robin Hood operations sold by Ministry-of-Truth propaganda-induced moral panic.

      "may have kept our children and loved ones free from being introduced to drugs."

      It may also have kept levels of alien anal probing low, who knows?

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        DAM , you do know that most alien anal probing is carried out on volunteers?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This screams for a class action lawsuit.

      1. dan1980

        Don't blame the test - it is what it is*. Instead blame the police department that deployed this test and either didn't properly educate the officers administering it or actively mislead them.

        The very idea that someone who - by the nature of the test administered - is only potentially in possession of an illicit substance can have their face and details splashed around as though the evidence was in is indicative of gross negligence on behalf of the police force.

        And negligence is the more generous judgement, for if it is not negligence then it is a wholesale abandonment of their responsibility to exercise their vast powers over the citizenry with care and restraint, and to be ever mindful that they uphold due process and the rule of law.

        The police, in this instance, prioritised public self-congratulation over their responsibility to protect a private citizen. In their self-righteous haste they negatively impacted the reputation of a thoroughly innocent civilian.

        While there was clearly grounds for suspicion here - the initial, basic test was positive - this incident nevertheless shows that the police, institutionally, rate the rights of innocent civilians very low indeed.

        In fact, given that this person posed no danger - he was not found with a weapon or a stolen car or acting suspiciously around a school or in a domestic dispute - the eagerness of the police to crow first and check later is all the more telling.

        * - And I am sure the limitations of it were adequately conveyed to the department when it was being purchased.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          "The police, in this instance, prioritised public self-congratulation over their responsibility to protect a private citizen."

          The interesting thing about slander is that everyone who repeats it, is liable for it - and "I believed it was true because N told me" isn't a defence

          This is the kind of case where not only the department, but _every single individual_ who made statements on the department's behalf to the press can be taken to court in a personal capacity, along with the media which repeated the claims.

  4. chivo243 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Answer

    "Widespread evidence shows that these tests routinely produce false positives. Why are police departments and prosecutors still using them?"

    Because it puts people in Jail, fines them and most likely also takes all of their belongings as it was a drug bust. Nothing sinister to see here... only

    Profit!

    1. Smooth Newt
      Meh

      Re: Answer

      Widespread evidence shows that these tests routinely produce false positives. Why are police departments and prosecutors still using them?

      Most successful prosecutions rely upon people incriminating themselves. The way it is supposed to work is that the policeman mixes the snake oil with the sample, loudly declares "you're busted", and the poor fool confesses.

      Quite often people are so unbalanced by the whole process of being intimidated, humiliated, strip searched, imprisoned and threatened with lengthy jail sentences that they confess to things they haven't even done. The only people who are completely immune to this are hardened criminals who have been through the process enough times not to be fazed by it anymore.

  5. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    I keep cat litter in a sock in my car for that very purpose

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      I carry a whole bag in winter

      It is the best replacement for sand in winter while weighting only a fraction of the weight of a bag of sand. Two small shovels full under the wheels can get you out of a lot of trouble without having to dig out the vehicle.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: I carry a whole bag in winter

          >I think the smart thing to do here is, if you're going to keep kitty litter in your car, keep it in the bag it came in.

          [Can't tell if serious!]

          The bag that kitty litter is shipped in is designed to keep moisture out. The litter won't work unless it is exposed to the damp environment.

          Some folk place trays of kitty litter around the interior of caravans that they won't be using for a while - again, to keep dampness at bay. The litter can be reused byheating it gently in an oven to remove the water it has previously absorbed.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I carry a whole bag in winter

            Bags full of meth, disguised as well-known litter brands!

      2. Arachnoid

        Re: I carry a whole bag in winter

        You should look into Liquid Snow Chain Spray.When you have an issue with tyres slipping in Snow a quick spray then wait for it to dry and your good for about 30 miles.Halfords or Amazon for a fiver per tin

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hALJDiNnq-k

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I carry a whole bag in winter

          > then wait for it to dry

          In snow? Might take a few days then?

        2. Robin Bradshaw

          Re: I carry a whole bag in winter

          After watching that video id suggest taking the handbrake off and not gunning it would be more effective

          1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: I carry a whole bag in winter

            After watching that video id suggest taking the handbrake off and not gunning it

            That video also looked like he was trying to start in first instead of second (or even third on some cars). The tires would have gotten him a few points on his license anywhere but UK too. Not road legal in most of Eu from Nov to March.

        3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: I carry a whole bag in winter

          You should look into Liquid Snow Chain Spray.

          Different use cases. Getting out of being stuck vs driving. You usually get stuck on ice or very compacted snow where snowsocks, winter tyres and even snow chains may not be enough. You need to get out to somewhere where you can drive with your current tire set. The classic remedy is sand and that is what you can replace with cat litter.

          Driving on snow for a period of time? With a spray-on gimmick? No thanks. I saw the tires on that Seat in the video, in any European country trying to get onto the road with this tyre in snow would be an immediate 3-6 points on your license (*)

          Disclaimer - all of my cars have either a proper set of winter shoes or all-weathers which are known to be good up to 5cm. Even the UK resident ones. Even my 4x4 has a set of proper winter shoes to use between November and March. I use them in proper snow though (the kind you see this winter in Europe). I also have a set of proper snow chains in the boot just in case (even on the 4x4). And 25l cat litter bag too.

      3. Glenturret Single Malt

        Re: I carry a whole bag in winter

        It gets you out of the shit?

  6. druck Silver badge
    Happy

    Cat litter + evidence

    If you are going to keep cat litter in your car, then make sure it contains some evidence of cat usage.

    You wont have to worry about your windows fogging up, as you'll need them down to avoid the aroma.

    1. King Jack
      Headmaster

      Re: Cat litter + evidence

      I thought kitty litter absorbs smells? So you could keep your windows up and clear. Breathing in cat excrement might harm you eventually.

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        Re: Cat litter + evidence

        > I thought kitty litter absorbs smells?

        YMMV, IMHO. Some do, some don't - it may depend on the brand and the cat's diet. Plus the stuff itself may not smell that good to start with (albeit better than cat shit).

        Hopefully it goes without saying that the cat litter should be unused to be effective!

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Cat litter + evidence

        I thought kitty litter absorbs smells?

        Depends on the kitty litter. The nice compressed wood stuff we use does (a bit) until the sawdust smell wears off. Or at least - it works for the liquids. Not so well for the solids (especially for the bolshie[1] little cat that doesn't follow cat etiquette and bury it[2]..

        [1] Actually - more like somewhere on the autism spectrum. We rescued her (with her mother and 4 siblings when she was 3 weeks old - her mother was about 7 months old - and she was a very sick little kitten. Fortunately, a mix of good care and good vets meant that she and 3 of her siblings survived. However, she's never been entirely normal, even for calico-cat versions of normal..).

        [2] Since the house is our territory, cats will bury their output when using the tray. If you see a cat not doing that, except for [1] then it's a pretty good bet that they consider their dumping ground *their* territory and them as boss..

    2. Tweetiepooh

      Re: Cat litter + evidence

      Wonders about the result if moggie is on some medication that would turn up in the test!

  7. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    Only TRULY GIGANTIC lawsuits will stop this...

    My girlfriend was stopped for driving an old car. She was searched and the foil wrapper of a KitKat was discovered. Plod "What was in this foil?". Her "A KitKat officer". Plod "A likely tail - off to the cells with you". So a night in jail and an arrest record.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Only TRULY GIGANTIC lawsuits will stop this...

      The police are sensitised to certain criminal interpretations of potentially innocent things. If they decide to investigate someone based on the age/condition of their car - or their appearance - then they have already made up their minds as to what they could find if they do a search. In other words "confirmation bias".

      I once did a business trip to Den Hague for a few days. On the return journey very early in the morning I opted for comfortable jeans and T-shirt rather than my business suit. Approaching UK customs I paused fractionally to find the Green channel sign. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a customs officer perk up - and then call me over.

      After seeing my folded suit inside my suitcase he immediately let me go. In his mind a person in jeans and T-shirt coming from Holland who showed hesitation at the customs channels was a potential drug smuggler.

      1. Ogi

        Re: Only TRULY GIGANTIC lawsuits will stop this...

        >After seeing my folded suit inside my suitcase he immediately let me go. In his mind a person in jeans and T-shirt coming from Holland who showed hesitation at the customs channels was a potential drug smuggler.

        Presumably then, all the successful drug smugglers arrive from Holland wearing suits?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Only TRULY GIGANTIC lawsuits will stop this...

          Presumably then, all the successful drug smugglers arrive from Holland wearing suits?

          And camel hair coats

          Ask Del Boy

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Only TRULY GIGANTIC lawsuits will stop this...

        A couple of years back I collected my teenage daughter from a friend,one Saturday night. Passing a dark lay-by I was pulled over by a police car that had been lurking in there. When they saw the driver was a grey haired dad and not the teenage yoof they were expecting they just waved me on my way. I have a nasty suspicion that if there had been a lad in the driver's seat it would have been a rather different story.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Only TRULY GIGANTIC lawsuits will stop this...

          If you don't have grey hair, just make sure your car radio is tuned to Radio 4. A few moments of John Humphries or Eddie Mair will see you clear of almost any suspected crime.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Only TRULY GIGANTIC lawsuits will stop this...

      Guy got arrested here in Orlando for meth when it was actually doughnut glaze sugar, and now he's suing for over $15K. He's suing both the city of Orlando and the company that makes the drug kits.

      http://fortune.com/2016/10/25/orlando-doughnut-glaze-meth-lawsuit/

      1. KR Caddis

        Re: Only TRULY GIGANTIC lawsuits will stop this...

        He should go after the sugar company - they have all the money. Deep Pockets often settle just to avoid the cost of legal expenses for defense. "If they didn't MAKE powdered sugar,this never would have happened..." Can you snort that stuff and get a high? Cereal works on kids!

    3. Mr Dogshit

      Re: Only TRULY GIGANTIC lawsuits will stop this...

      Was she black by any chance?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Only TRULY GIGANTIC lawsuits will stop this...

      >She was searched and the foil wrapper of a KitKat was discovered.

      Yikes! The inside of my van resembles a thrift shop with a rubbish bin emptied in it! There is no shortage of foil, cellophane, duck tape, adhesive, clothes, books, tools, empty-ish tobacco packets, nik-naks, and other junk, rubbish and precious things. And that's just the cab.

      No officer of the law has ever taken the opportunity to search my vehicle. They seem to share my opinion that it wouldn't be a good use of police time, even if they did eventually find a gram of Moroccan Black.

      My vehicle might be slobby, but I hate seeing my picturesque countryside marred by MacDonalds packaging dumped by some jerk from a the window of a Renault Clio or some sort of Vauxhall. When I'm king, all fast food wrappers will be printed with a picture of the customer. "Put it in the bin or I'll kick you in the shin!"

      1. PNGuinn
        Big Brother

        Re: Only TRULY GIGANTIC lawsuits will stop this...

        "Yikes! The inside of my van resembles a thrift..."

        In the case of my motor, at various times, a combination of: Dirty great sharp ham knife, acid (hydrochloric, wouldn't want to give the wrong impression), acetone, packet or jam jar of white lightweight somewhat fluffy powder (wallpaper paste), Hypodermic syringes AND needles white power (fine surface filler - may not be an a labelled box), enough sharps to lacerate an army (miscellaneous knives, saws,scissors, drills and chisels etc), various aerosol cans, various dodgy looking power tools, electronic instruments - laser measuring devices, gas analyser, 500V Insulation tester / continuity tester / RCD / PSC tester ....

        Just depends on what I'm doing at the time ... A lot of the small low value items tend to live in door pockets, glove boxes and boot all the time.

        As for the state of the thing --- I've got better things to do than clean it out every month, let alone every night. The annual emptying out so they can get in to do the MOT is bad enough - takes weeks before it's back to normal

        And like you, ac I don't mind littering my own closed property but detest those b*****ds who want a lovely clean car at the expense of everywhere they pass through,

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Only TRULY GIGANTIC lawsuits will stop this...

          @PNGuinn, sounds like a paper hanging kit, sharps, white powder and hypodermic syringes for sucking bubbles out from under the paper. I have had interesting conversations in Boots in the long distant past trying to buy syringes for paper hanging.

          No more problems after my Dad bought me an antique vets syringe kit at an antiques fair. It cam in a mahogany velvet lined box with a selection of needle sizes.

      2. Trilkhai

        Re: Only TRULY GIGANTIC lawsuits will stop this...

        I use one of those reusable garbage bags made for vehicles for that; I just empty it into the nearest convenient trash bin as needed.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Only TRULY GIGANTIC lawsuits will stop this...

      All I can say, is that if this happened in the UK, then you are telling ridiculous lies. For what reason, I do not know, but lies none the less.

      There is no sufficiency of evidence there, and absolutely no chance any cop in the UK would ever arrest someone for that, simply because they legally can't.

      So, if it happened in the UK, then I don't know why you're lying like that, but it's ridiculous.

      If of course, this didn't happen in the UK, well, the rest of the world is crazy. :)

    6. druck Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Only TRULY GIGANTIC lawsuits will stop this...

      If it was a KitKat wrapper, it would be obvious, as you have to rub it until the writing on the chocolate shows through, then slice between the bars with your thumbnail. If that isn't the way you open it, then a drug related investigation is entirely warranted!

    7. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Only TRULY GIGANTIC lawsuits will stop this...

      I've been really close to that myself. When I was 19 I was stopped for....well actually I never did figure out why I was stopped and at 19 I didn't have the sense to know that if I asked they had to tell me. Or that I could say something like "No, I won't give consent for you to search my car." But anyway, I was stopped and my junker of a car that was older than me was searched. They spent 2 hours searching my car for no apparent reason. They were ready to haul me in at one point. The conversation was like this:

      Cop: "Is there anything in that bottle?"

      Me: "No, it's empty."

      Cop: "Alright, up against the car. You think it's OK to drink and drive?"

      Me: "....It's a root beer bottle!" (In case you're curious, it was. IBC root beer to be exact.)

      Cop: *Pausing to look closer at the bottle in question* "Good answer."

      In the end I narrowly dodged a night in jail for having an empty soft drink bottle in my car and froze my butt off standing in out in late fall weather at night for 2 hours. It was very much a "don't you guys have anything better to do?" moment for me.

    8. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Only TRULY GIGANTIC lawsuits will stop this...

      > Plod "What was in this foil?". Her "A KitKat officer". Plod "A likely tail - off to the cells with you". So a night in jail and an arrest record.

      Any ambulance chaser would turn that into false arrest charges

  8. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    Road site test?

    All the cop movies that I've watched have the cops doing on the spot tests by simply sniffing a little of the power or tasting it ...

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Road site test?

      "Whoops, here's me accident'ly trippin' up, oo, dis is me grabbin' a statchoo for support, oh, der arm have come right off.. and what is dis white powder I sees here with my eyes accident'ly spillin' on der floor?"

      He licked a finger and gingerly tasted the stuff. "Slab," he growled..

      "Did I just lick dis?" he said

      "Er, yes.." said Carrot

      "T'ank goodness for dat, 'd hate to believe dis room was really fully of giant hairy spide.... weeble weeble sclup..."

      Aaah, if only our police were still like the City Watch :/

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Road site test?

      "All the cop movies that I've watched have the cops doing on the spot tests by simply sniffing a little of the power or tasting it ..."

      It's a reliable test for cyanide.

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Road site test?

        potassium cyanide test, very effective. Not so reliable with sodium cyanide.

      2. Mark 110

        Re: Road site test?

        The movie thing with tasting the coke isn't a taste test. Coke doesn't really taste of anything.

        It is, however, an anesthetic and makes your tongue go numb.

        1. Mark 110

          Re: Road site test?

          Or is that analgesic. I can never remember. .

    3. mstreet

      Re: Road site test?

      So ... you're saying we SHOULD use pre-used litter?

  9. adam payne Silver badge

    "LeBeau would like to clear his name and receive an apology."

    I would have expected them to have issue an apology already but I guess that would need they'd have to admit something went wrong.

    1. dan1980

      @adam payne

      Exactly.

      Far more likely is that the police higher-ups will fully support everyone and everything that was done, claiming their duty to protect kiddies from drugs overrides their responsibility to not deprive innocent people of liberty and then falsely accuse them of crimes in public.

      And the politicians will, likely as not, support them too, because the majority of our 'representatives' are not only in favour of over-zealous displays of 'law and order' but actively work to increase the powers of the agencies and law enforcement while simultaneously reducing any restrictions or oversight and removing what few public protections are left.

      No, the line is increasingly that the police are alway right, even when they are wrong.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        And the politicians will, likely as not, support them too, because the majority of our 'representatives' are not only in favour of over-zealous displays of 'law and order' but actively work to increase the powers of the agencies and law enforcement while simultaneously reducing any restrictions or oversight and removing what few public protections are left.

        We saw that over here with the Dotcom (or is it Dotkom? can never remember) affair. "Mr (former PM) Key, what those agents did in this case was highly illegal, they need to be arrested, charged, tried, and sent away for a very long time"

        "Nope, wasn't illegal. We, the "National" party, will (under urgency no less!) change the law retrospectively so what they did is no longer a crime and they cannot be charged."

        (They were good at that, passing a hell of a lot of stuff under urgency (even stuff that wasn't urgent and stuff that really needed a lot more work), making sure their people who committed crimes were clear, making sure their rich friends could get richer, while making it harder for people to get work, and making a few things that weren't illegal criminal offences with prison time available, and also retrospective IIRC)

  10. Dwarf Silver badge
    Joke

    Perhaps I'm getting old but ..

    How do you mix up a purple cleaning fluid / fire starter with a solid sock.

    I guess they are not talking about the "taking" being the tramp on the park bench either ??

    Obligatory Amazon Meths review 1 and Amazon Meths review 2

    Given the false positive, I wonder how long it will take before someone tries to take Cat litter in the same form they do with this other meths stuff.

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Perhaps I'm getting old but ..

      will that be new, or used, kitty litter?

    2. Anomalous Croissant

      Re: Perhaps I'm getting old but ..

      They mixed it up with the drug methamphetamine aka crystal meth (not methylated spirits):

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methamphetamine

      1. Dwarf Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Perhaps I'm getting old but ..

        I know, that's why the joke icon is there.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dehumidifier...?

    Texas is renowned for being humid. </sarcasm>

    Would it work over here...? </genuine question>

    1. cray74

      Re: Dehumidifier...?

      Texas is renowned for being humid.

      Yep. Depending on the study you pick, Texas has a couple of major cities in the "10 most humid, large US cities" list, like Houston (#3) and Dallas (#9). Western, inland Texas dries out to its famous desert-like conditions, but the eastern and Gulf stretches get quite humid and stay that way year-round.

      Surprisingly, notoriously damp cities like Seattle don't even show up on the list, they're all in the south with good access to water. Only San Diego tends to be cool:

      10. Charlotte, NC

      9. Dallas, TX

      8. Los Angeles, CA

      7. Raleigh, NC

      6. Washington, DC (lived there, agree - it's a swamp)

      5. Orlando, FL (ditto)

      4. San Diego, CA

      3. Houston, TX

      2. Miami, FL

      1. Tampa, FL (ditto)

    2. Vic

      Re: Dehumidifier...?

      Would it work over here...? </genuine question>

      Certainly can do. Many of us fill a pair of tights with kitty litter and put them in our drysuits[1] between dives. It keeps the moisture - and accompanying smell - to a minimum...

      VIc.

      [1] Even a properly-sealed drysuit will end up being somewhat moist at the end of a dive, on account of the humid filling...

  12. imanidiot Silver badge

    Time for a war on Stupidity?

    "may have kept our children and loved ones free from being introduced to drugs."

    If all that is stopping your kids and loved ones from doing drugs is making a microscopic dent in it's availability you have a bigger problem than the availability of drugs! You know, maybe you should actually talk to the kids every once in a while. And not only trying to scare them about the supposed dangers of "the reefer" and such. Like they are human beings.

    1. Haku

      Re: Time for a war on Stupidity?

      Stupid people should be made to wear a sign stating such.

      Bill Engvall - Stupid People (Here's Your Sign) (YouTube)

  13. Chris G Silver badge

    I am guessing the kitty litter in question is the white crystaline variety which I think is a form of silica gel. The more usual one that I use for my cats is diatomaceous clay (bentonite) a usually coarse grey granular substance and unlikely to be mistaken for drugs by most ocifers of the low.

    I wouldn't recommed snorting either, particularly after a cat visit.

    1. PNGuinn
      Joke

      BENTONITE!!!

      Isn't that used somewhere in the gas fracking process? According to the greenies it's deadly poisonous and highly dangerous. You wouldn't want to be stopped by one of those buggers with bentonite in your sock, would you??

      Actually, I don't like the clay litter. Makes far too much dust. At least it does with a rabbit jumping in and out of it. Far better to use the wood pellet (compressed sawdust) type, even if it is a bit dearer.

      Used to get it from the supermarket for my daughter's varmit. Trouble was the stupid bastards at Sainsbury's started to send me cat food vouchers. I HATE CATS YOU INBECILES. Well done, cretins. Insulting your customers.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "The more usual one that I use for my cats is diatomaceous clay (bentonite) "

      After trying all those, I've recently switched to using "chick crumb" (Poultry food - effectively, dessicated kibbled wheat. Duck crumb works just as well)

      It's absorbant, 1/4 the price of clay kitty litter, 100% biodegradeable, a 20kg bag lasts twice as long as other kitty litters and - important in a flat - flushable. (clumps when wet but clumps break up instantly when dropped in water)

      Yes, it's poultry feed - Utterly bloody useless at absorbing moisture in a care compared to silica gel and at 2mm particle size probably useless if you need to put it under tyres, but frankly what we use as kitty litter isn't usually what cats prefer anyway. They love this stuff.

  14. Justicesays
    Devil

    I'm assuming

    that these test kits are the wooden sticks in which you insert an "attuned" template, and then dowse for the drugs/bombs/terrists?

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: I'm assuming

      It was many moons ago but when the RUC took samples and swaps during searches one lab in particular kept coming back with positive results. Fantastic! They were catching so many bad peopleTM until during a maintenace check someone discovered an old positive result calibration swab wedged inside the machine.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I'm assuming

        "discovered an old positive result calibration swab wedged inside the machine."

        Awwww...is that all? I was hoping you were going to say the person doing the tests was a heavy drug user inadvertently contaminating the tests!

        1. James 51 Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: I'm assuming

          I forgot to mention the test was for semtex. Good luck snorting that.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I'm assuming

            > I forgot to mention the test was for semtex.

            Wasn't said test sensitive to washing up liquid or something equally benign?

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: I'm assuming

              IIRC it was liquid hand soap of the type commonly used in public toilets that gave a false positive for Semtex in a high profile case.

              I believe Semtex, being a trade name for C-4, has an almond smell artificially introduced to it - just as the UK's mains gas has an added smell. I might be wrong though, an almond smell might be inherent to it (cyanide?), and this subject I'm inclined not to Google it. I would like to play with shaped charge explosives though as a way of cutting metal in the workshop... the hacksaw makes my arm tired. And damn it, I like things that go Bang!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: I'm assuming

                > Semtex, being a trade name for C-4

                Actually no.

                Semtex is a general-purpose plastic explosive containing RDX and PETN

                C-4 used by the United States Armed Forces contains 91% RDX ("Research Department Explosive", an explosive nitroamine), 5.3% dioctyl sebacate (DOS) or dioctyl adipate (DOA) as the plasticizer (to increase the plasticity of the explosive), 2.1% polyisobutylene (PIB, a synthetic rubber) as the binder, and 1.6% of a mineral oil often called "process oil." Instead of "process oil," low-viscosity motor oil is used in the manufacture of C-4 for civilian use.

                1. Mike 16 Silver badge

                  Thanks, AC (Re: I'm assuming)

                  Now every El Reg reader of this thread is on a terrorist watch list.

                  With an "enhancement" for people who ever posted as AC.

                  1. kain preacher Silver badge

                    Re: Thanks, AC (I'm assuming)

                    I'm pretty sure we were on that list way before this post.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Thanks, AC (I'm assuming)

                      It's like yelling Jehova in front of the stoner gang,

              2. LosD

                Re: I'm assuming

                Semtex and C-4 is not the same thing.

              3. kain preacher Silver badge

                Re: I'm assuming

                Semtex is not C4 and for a long time was not detectable as an explosive. C4 does not have PTEN in it

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semtex

              4. Kiwi Silver badge
                Boffin

                Re: I'm assuming

                I would like to play with shaped charge explosives though as a way of cutting metal in the workshop... the hacksaw makes my arm tired.

                I too would love to play with some HE.. Just for fun and research purposes mind.. Like how much of a bang causes an involuntary download of brownware in passers by... :)

                While explosively cutting stuff can be much more fun than labouriously cutting away with a hacksaw, you could perhaps make a cheap version of a device I only knew of as a "powersaw" (and not the circular type chippies use either). You could probably use repurposed bits for it easily enough, as the one I saw was effectively a larger version of a hacksaw blade.

                So, make a carrier for a hacksaw blade (even if it's just a normal hacksaw itself, whatever you can make work). At one end it has to take a drive system and at the other a weight. You'll need something to give it a back'n'forth motion for the cutting action - perhaps the mechanics from a car's screen wipers will do for this for small applications, see parts from an old washing machine for larger applications. A feed of lubricating fluid would also be helpful, to keep the blade and the metal being cut cool and to keep the blade moving. A car's screen washer bottle with pump and the tubing going to just above and to either side of the blade would work well here, you can then have it drain (through some sort of filter - a wire mesh or various types of cloth could work well here) back into the bottle directly. Would have to be a light oil as the pump will probably not handle heavier stuff much. Oh, the blade has to be hinged so you can lift the end opposite the drive and drop it on the work easily. Then you just need a table and clamp for the work - and just resting the work on your normal bench and using a G clamp will do that well enough.

                Set the work in the machine, start the machine, bugger off for a few minutes. The machine might take a while to cut but you can do other stuff. We used to use one to cut very large bar stock that would not fit in other machines and take a while to cut with a cutting blade on a grinder (not to mention the waste of metal that would cause), and would kill several hacksaw blades (not to mention arms) trying to cut it manually. The machine would take maybe 20 minutes but would do it itself. IIRC the stroke would be about 2", and the cycle would be about a second (so it would go forward and back in 1 second, and a line marked on the blade would travel about 2 inches). IIRC we would've had about a pound or less in weight keeping the blade on the work (or rather, stroke would be about 50mm/5cm, and around 500gms of weight on the end of the blade - but you guys work in that weird imperial system so I'm roughly converting :) )

                DisclaimersThis probably is covered by a few patents so be careful if you try to sell this to anyone. The home brew version of this design I only thought of today in response to the message I am replying to, I have not built such a device myself and there could be flaws in my design I haven't yet conceived of - use at own risk. If you do find a commercial application and wish to thank me for savings/profits, then consider giving money to charities which help elderly or poor people, or cats. CATS ARE NICE.

                And damn it, I like things that go Bang!

                Easy. One weekend, spill your beer into the oversized 3-phase motor you chose to power the above..

                1. Snafu1

                  Re: I'm assuming

                  ISTR we had one of these in my high school's metalwork workshop; it was known as an oscillating saw & used (as you say) for inconveniently-shaped/sized chunks of metal stock. Lubricant/coolant had to be kept running constantly otherwise it would eat blades..

                  Other than that it was effectively a heavy-duty powered hacksaw.. but worked /very/ well & was useful for art projects & similar odd things dreamed up by the students (I used it once for pre-shaping xbow prods from stock spring steel)

          2. the Jim bloke Silver badge

            Re: I'm assuming

            Semtex ?

            for when you REALLY need to blow your nose ?

          3. Snafu1

            Re: I'm assuming

            "I forgot to mention the test was for semtex. Good luck snorting that."

            Gives a whole new meaning to blowing your nose?

      2. Evil Brewer

        Re: I'm assuming

        Personally I think the Phantom of Heilbronn is the best: The lab-swaps for testing genetic fingerprints where contaminated by the packager in the company producing the swaps, so there was obviously a supercriminal reponsible for 40+ crimes ....

        1. Rainer

          Re: I'm assuming

          So much #FAIL.

          It took them years to realized that something must be "wrong".

          Show that even seasoned criminalists can get locked into some sort of tunnel-vision.

          I guess, if you look for drugs all the day, everyday, everything looks like drugs after a while.

  15. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge
    Joke

    if they'd just shot him straight away none of this would have happened.

  16. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
    Coat

    LeBeau

    Any relation to Remy?

    1. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: LeBeau

      If that were the case, I would not like to be the police officers that arrested the poor guy....

  17. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Joke

    Less Breaking Bad...

    ... more breaking wind.

  18. Nolveys Silver badge

    Don't Tread On Me...

    ...unless you're the government, in which case you can do whatever you want with zero accountability.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Beware the dogs.

    A late relative of mine was terminally ill with cancer secondary to HIV and in considerable pain. This was controlled by fentanyl patches keeping him steadily topped up. While out with friends he was targeted by a passive drugs dog and a rather stupid copper. The dog indicated and he was then grabbed, cuffed behind his back and given a search. On finding nothing in his pockets, a full body search was decided on.

    On having his condition and the point he was writhing in agony pointed out to the PC, the friends were told to "do one" while he was loaded into a van and taken to the police station. It was only when he got there that he was allowed to notify someone of his detention. He was seen by a nurse in custody where his condition and medication were pointed out again. At that point he was"dearrested" and taken to hospital.

    He passed away 2 weeks later. Sadly once you have passed away you cannot continue a complaint. I gather the officer was given "words of advice".

    1. Anonymous IV
      Facepalm

      Re: Beware the dogs.

      "He passed away two weeks later"

      Phew! For a moment I thought he might have died...

    2. Graham 7

      Re: Beware the dogs.

      Wow, that rule surely makes the decision easy for the police! Ensure the complainant 'passes away' before the complaint can be heard.

      Surely someone else can proceed with the complaint in his name?

      Ah no, it's the police. Poorly educated thugs without common sense. Hate them.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Beware the dogs.

      I didn't realize Fentanyl patches could be smelled by drug dogs. Interesting. I have made it a habit to carry my rx insurance receipts from the pharmacy for all my current narcotics in my wallet at all times in case questions should arise. Because of growing up with an abusive father I'm always paranoid about being accused of things I'm not guilty. Thanks for the warning. My condolences on your loss.

  20. Graham 7

    I hope this guy gets a lawyer soon. One way to stop police using $2 tests is to make the overall cost to the police of a test $50002!

    His request is very reasonable - apology for the mistake, clear his record, publish a correction. Quite cheap realy.

    However the police don't have that mindset. They are above the law, so they will not do the above, and it will force him to get a lawyer, who will find other affected people, turn it into a class action, and maybe cost the police millions (hopefully).

    1. Rainer

      In the US, there should be rule that people involved in thins like this should be forbidden to run for any public office for a decade.

      As they also remove the right to vote from inmates, this would be only fair (IMO).

      That way, people who work they career-ladder by creating a record on being "tough on crime" would think twice before going over the top.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Presumptive tests are just that. Presumptive. You would in Scotland at least, seize the potential drug material, arrest and charge the person with a Section 5(2) of the Misuse of Drugs Act and inform them that it will be presumptively tested and that -should- it give a positive result, that a report would be sent to the Procurator Fiscal. You then take it back to the station and presumptively test it in the office, and if you're not happy or it's not a drug type that can be tested, you send it off to forensics.

    You cannot arrest someone and convey them to a custody suite to spend the night in the cells prior to going in front of a Sheriff in the morning unless it's dealer quantities, which are substantial to say the least. Only time I've ever had that was when some poor lad got on the train I and my colleague had hopped on coming back from Court. Poor sod didn't realise we were there until the doors shut, and then the smell hit us. Whoops!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmm?

    Lawsuit coming?

  23. ZenCoder

    Combine this with the lack of access to a public defense.

    Been using the same tests for decades, this happens to tens of thousands of Americans a year. Many lacking the funds for private representation have no choice but to plead guilty.

    I'd post some links but I'm assuming everyone on this site knows how to use a search engine.

  24. Merlinski
    Unhappy

    Kitty litterer

    Just more confirming evidence that the US is a police state.

  25. Kiwi Silver badge

    Taking back some of what I said..

    Few days back I was talking about how US courts should not award stupid amounts of money in some claims.

    However, I think that for the people behind this sort of thing, there should be an example made such that those who have profitted from innocent people going to prison will truly and for the rest of their lives know what poverty is (preferably by collectively spending the same amount of time inside as their victims, so if 1,000 victims spent 3 days each inside then there's 3,000 days worth of jail time to be used equally by the highest and lowest people who knew this was going on and didn't speak out publicly or at least in court against it - so if there's 10 of them they have to do 300 days each).

    If your actions put an innocent person in prison/jail through known faulty systems (different matter if say they were found holding the weapon at a murder scene) then you should a) do the same time as them, b) have to cover ALL of the costs incurred by them/their loved ones including travelling to court/to visit them inside, any medical or funeral costs (more than one person has had a fatal heart attack or stroke as a result of news of a loved one's arrest, especially on serious charges) and a whopping wrongful death case in case of such, and also pay for a lot of full-page newspaper ads, at least 3x the coverage on TV saying the person is absolutely innocent, and a massive online campaign to remove any mention of their guilt and clearly show their innocence. If you're bankrupted through this, good. Don't put innocent people in jail and if there's a risk something is producing even 0.1% false positives then stop using it.

    </rant>

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Taking back some of what I said..

      "However, I think that for the people behind this sort of thing, there should be an example made such that those who have profitted from innocent people going to prison"

      This is happening in _some_ areas. In one case a judge was found to be getting kickbacks from a privately run prison for sending juveniles there - in most cases they turned out to be innocents on trumped up charges.

      That particular judge is unlikely to ever be released.

      Corruption in the USA is at least as bad as any west african country, just slightly less blatent in most cases.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Taking back some of what I said..

        That particular judge is unlikely to ever be released.

        I don't know how I feel about that. On one hand he put innocent people inside, I guess a number of them, and needs to repay that debt - and it's pretty damned impossible. On the other, people can change, and they can change significantly and quickly even if the catalyst is selfish motives (in this case "I miss my authority" and or "I miss my money" and or "I miss my expensive toys" with a distant maybe "I miss my family"). I'd love to see a system where if you could convince enough people of decent change, you can get out very early whereas if you can only show that you've not changed, you stay. Of course that would need our prisons to move from punishment to rehab, and would also mean the victims can only be a part of decision (lets face it, victims especially of nastier crimes can hold a massive grudge, and a really harmful crime can come from one stupid decision where the outcome is completely unexpected - eg who ever thinks that one extra drink will impair them enough that it causes them to crash and kill someome? (no I don't excuse drunk driving and think that by the time of a 3rd offense lifetime driving bans should be a real possibility! (yes I know that sounds hypocritical)

        Corruption in the USA is at least as bad as any west african country, just slightly less blatent in most cases.

        There are many forms of corruption. NZ often gets voted quite highly if not at the top of the "least corrupt", yet our cops can be among the worst when it comes to things like evidence tampering, witness tampering and various other things. And a big part of that, AIUI, is that they're given significant bonuses for convictions. When you can get a (I believe but could be wrong and don't have a source handy) $20K bonus for a murder conviction, that's quite an inducement to maybe ignore some of the evidence that can show someone is guilty, and perhaps get that one tiny partial print promoted to the jury as if it's a full set of finger/palm/foot prints as well as signed confession, and a full DNA lot as well. DNA doesn't match? Well, we'll just say that no DNA tests were performed, then the defence doesn't have to know about that.

        NZ cops take bribes from crims/gangs etc? Almost never, maybe not even 1 in a thousand. Tamper with evidence to help get their conviction? That may be a different story..

  26. Sherrie Ludwig

    When I ran a stable in the USA, I was always very mindful of traffic laws if transporting horses to and from shows. We carried an equine medical kit that would have caused a traffic cop to fall over: partital list of contents = needles, Bute, and a gallon-sized bag of white powder. The latter was aspirin powder. I wonder what would have happened if I were stopped.

  27. Potemkine Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Won't someone think of the children?

    Another proof that cats are evil, and that we have to get rid of them.

    This was an announcement by the Committee Against Cats

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