By Michele Piscitelli
People get arrested every day, but does anyone think it will actually happen to them? According to 19-year-old Katie D------, jail was not a place she ever thought she would be, but one night that is where she ended up.
On a Thursday night last December, Katie and her best friend, Melanie, were excited to go to Webster Hall, a 19-and-over dance club in New York City. They had been planning this outing for a long time and now that her friend’s sports season was over it was a perfect time to go. “Melanie plays soccer and she always has games on the weekend, so we never get a chance to do anything,” Katie said. They had arranged to go with Melanie’s boyfriend, Luke, who is 24, because he could drive them into the city so they wouldn’t have to pay for the train.
“The plans were working out perfectly; it seemed like it would be a fun and drama-free night,” Katie stated. They did not know what was about to happen to them and that they wouldn’t even make it to the club. “Luke picked us up at Melanie’s house at 9 at night and we started driving to the city, but he thought it was too early to get to the club (since it only takes a half hour to get there from her house) so he decided to stop at a lookout,” she recalled. The three of them stopped at Rockefeller Lookout, which is a little north of exit 1 on the Palisades Interstate Parkway in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
“When we parked, me and Melanie started to fill our empty water bottles with cranberry juice and vodka that we brought with us because we wouldn’t be able to drink in the club,” Katie said. “I know we are underage, but we don’t even do it as often as everybody else; this was our one night to go out in months.” They didn’t realize a cop was lurking on the other side of the lookout. He began to walk over and they scrambled to hide their drinks and act as if they are doing nothing wrong. Luke rolled down the window for the officer.
“The cop just came over to tell Luke to put on his headlights if he was gonna park there, but as he was leaning inside the car he smelled pot. We saw him sniffing and we knew we were in trouble,” said Katie. The cop told all three of them to step out of the car and started patting Luke down. “He told us our rights and then said he has reasonable suspicion and is going to search the car. I could not believe this was happening. It was like something out of a movie. A minute later, four more cop cars showed up and it looked like a complete crime scene.”
When the cops searched the car they found Luke’s marijuana, pills that were not prescribed, open alcohol in the trunk, and the girls' bottle of vodka and both their bottles. “They asked us if the bottles were ours and we said yes. Later we learned if we denied, we wouldn’t have been arrested, but we thought if we were honest they would let us go.” They did not let them go.
Katie was charged with possession and consumption of alcohol in a motor vehicle. Melanie was charged with the same, plus the fake I.D. they had found in her wallet. Luke was charged with eight different crimes, ranging from drug possession to not having headlights on at a lookout. They were handcuffed and brought into the Alpine police station on exit 2 where they spend the night getting booked, fingerprinted, and getting mug shots taken.
“It was a traumatic experience. I never in my life thought I would be in the back of a cop car, let alone spend the night in jail,” said Katie. “Now it makes me realize I cannot just break the law and think nothing will happen. Even though everybody drinks underage, it is still illegal and there will be consequences.”