Police Presence Pleases the Playa

The cops love Distrikt photo: Samantha Fielding

The cops loved the Early set at Distrikt. photo: Samantha Fielding

The cops love Distrikt. Photo: Samantha Fielding

For a good time, call Gooch. Photo: Samantha Fielding

As reports trickle back from the Playa, we’re hearing the cops here were much better than the last couple of years. It seems they’re friendlier when BMOrg are feeding them instead of suing their bosses.

Nick asked: Was it just me or did the cops tone it way down this year? Mostly I saw cops doing this:

2014 cops photos nick heyming

..Most had BRC ranger minders too

Neftali: yah… i think a big group of billionaires paid them off and are taking over burning man..

Candace: They were really wonderful this year.

Rod: They’ve softened up after the Org started feeding them at the commissary and they got to mingle with the people that makes Burning Man happen and its army of volunteers.

Steve: I talked to at least 5 cops. One told me they were pre-screened to make sure that only cops capable of monitoring without imposing their moral beliefs were accepted. Every cop I talked to was very happy to be there and very friendly. I thanked them all for making the event safe.

Trish: One officer pulled up to my camp and beckoned my camp mates and I over. When we arrived, he gave us each chapstick with the BLM logo on it and told us to have a wonderful burn. Another officer flashed us the peace sign as he drove by. It kinda warmed my heart, I gotta tell ya

Rob: We had a lady Sheriff flag our car down by Camp Q on Burn night to take a picture of it with three of my favorite campmates standing beside the car. The officer was stoked on our car and music. Great LEO experience this year

Alana: I saw a few driving by. They usually waved. Seemed like nice enough folks. On the other hand, our bus driver on the burner bus got pulled over for speeding before we even got off the playa. (Doing 20 in a 5 mph zone.) The cop was super aggro and condescending after he figured out that the driver didn’t speak much English. He was objectively a terrible driver, but that kind of attitude was disappointing after how reasonable the cops were on the playa during the week.

Charity: I agree cop presence was much calmer. I did have a camp mate get pulled over in the gates saying her tags were expired which was not true. They used K9s to search and had 4 hits. She had no choice but to give up her weed stash which was only in 2 places. He fined them both $500 but after one said it was all his at least the copped retracted her fine and he let them go. I also spoke to a cop and he said the people this year were way better than the people he deals with in every day life and he was grateful for the burners and gave me a cool bracelet.

Aaron: My favorite LEO moment was pulling up to an intersection driving a golf cart, I pulled up on the drivers side of the vehicle and kind of gave the driver a nod. He pulled out a small squirt gun and started hitting me w water flashing a huge huge happy smile. They are ok if you are ok. Act the ass and then…..

Daniel: Saw the Sheriffs looking as if they were harassing a woman, we started chanting “let her go!” and it was only a matter of seconds before they were hugging and she gave them both hugs and a kiss on the cheek. Everyone cheered

Becca: We got some LEOs to honk their horns at us and wave, and a few gave me a hug as I wished them good morning as we were all leaving shifts on for the Embrace burn. Even ran into one I’d met named Love who’d lead a pre-burn drill in the open space of our camp in 2012.

photo: Gary Schwartz

photo: Gary Schwartz

Makala: was camped right across some rangers and smoking lots of green and didn’t even know they were rangers across from us lol , they never said anything . Also one cop was asking my friend to pose for him so he can take pics of her out on the playa, and she was naked . They were really friendly and heart warming .

Erie: It would seem my boyfriend and I got pulled over just because we were from WA. Cop tells us it’s because our tag light is out… starts asking us all these marijuana-related questions, medical patient history,etc. We had nothing on us, but still got the K-9 search. We got off with a warning… when we checked later, the tag lights were working fine. Hmph. I agree though, much more toned down than last year!

Kirsten: Yes, toned down. Present enough to remind all they were there but not be total intimidating dicks about it as in past years. Hope this is the start of a new era of balanced enforcement. We were stopped on 447 right after the rain. Cop went by SINGING that Playa was closed & trying to organize the many miles of back up. Another came by few min later barking threatening orders. First cop earned everyone’s cooperation when he asked us to move off road, second dude was ignored & butt of jokes. Go figure, using honey instead of vinegar actually works…

Matthew: I had a sheriff ask me for a hug!!! I like hugging cops!

Mike: I saw several LEO’s around the playa and walking through the sound camps, never had a bad experience with any of them. One gave me chap stick another flashed peace sign at our camp a group of them told me and my camp mates to have a great burn.

Elise: The LEOs approached me during my security shift at the sound camp I’m affiliated with. They were so nice to me that at first I congratulated them on their costumes thinking they were friendly burners.

Megan: A few people from my camp got a ride home from deep playa from them highly intoxicated. He dropped them off with a smile, a reminder of where to find the medics and a few bottles of water. Didn’t have any negative interactions. Most were very friendly.

Shan: I think the cops at Gate are mostly for show so incoming know they’re there. Everyone I knew got off w/a warning. Every interaction I witnessed was appropriate to positive. One cop I spoke with said he’d been on playa 5 yrs and loved collecting swag for his wife & kid.

Lauren: I saw plenty of folks pulled over after passing through the gate and searching cars, loads of rangers near sound camps, and a gal being searched at midday sunday. Felt like presence was stronger than other years! Nice to hear those who interacted had a positive experience

Adam: I was naked on Tuesday on my bike and a cop flagged us down to tell us we had a tutu violation but that he was gonna let it slide.

AleXander: I was in my adventure time onesie with a glowing crystal ball, and a cop in full gear gave me the respect nod. Made my week.

Jason: All I saw was BLM and they totally awesome! No sheriff or city cops out there. What ever they did to reign in the shitty police, it worked.

Mason: I wound up hugging 5 Feds, 2 asked me for one, could have been to catch a smell but seemed very kind. Danced hard with BLM and Forest Service at Distrikt. Did not see one person in cuffs all week

Robert: Rarely saw them. Didn’t see them on Gate Road this year, unlike last when I was K-9 searched (false hit, we had nothing and never had anything). I did see them one day (Thurs?). They hit multiple camps on F between 4:30 and 5:00. And I saw another K-9 car at the intersection of 4:30 and B when I was returning after seeing the ones on F. Tip perhaps?

Kent: think the big lawsuit payoff to Pershing County might have something to do with the reduced LEO aggressiveness but I still saw plenty around.

Joe: Had a good interaction with the Pershing county sherif, Rich. He’s been burning for 14 years, will retire in Jan, plans to attend the burn as a civilian participant.

Mark Atwood: I was very gratified to discover that a lot of people at the Burn this year had read and heard of my “How to deal with cops at Burning Man” document, and it was fun to introduce myself as the guy who had written it. Apparently, some camps included it as part of their own camp instructions.

Chrystal: We practiced different scenarios at our camp by teaming up with a buddy, one of us acted as the cop the other the camper. Went back and forth over different scenarios in which we could “not agree to a consent for a search.”

Peace with the peace officers was not the only positive experienced by Burners this year. Some were doing their bit for peace in the Middle East as well.

Shugga Bear:
2014 israel lebanon

Did you take a picture with this as your backdrop? Did you see this and have a comment or emoton about it? It was right across from Distrikt (9 & G). I want to hear your thoughts and see your pics. I (Jewish) brought my Lebanese best friend to the playa for his first burn. We wanted to represent that there can be unity between our people so we out the flags up. Almost immediately people started to take pictures in front of it and tell us their stories. A group of Palestinians knocked on the RV door to give us a hug. A Lebanese guys told me he was here with a Jewish camp. Several Arab/ Jewish couples made it a point to say hi and tell me about some of their experiences as a result of being a couple of these mixed faiths.
These reactions have inspired me to put a project together for next years burn based on this. Please feel free to reach out to me with comment, pics, ideas, etc.

I hope you had an amazing burn.

Much love..

Shugga Bear:)


13 comments on “Police Presence Pleases the Playa

  1. I’m really curious how many cops (especially undercover ones) come to Burning Man and get so inspired by the love and community showered upon them that they find it morally unconscionable to be LEOs any longer! There’s got to be at least a few for whom BM rocked their world view.

  2. We were at Root Society and the bass was really loud up front, so I went back to camp and brought back about 4 pairs of earplugs. I cupped them in my hands and carried them back to RS. As I unfolded my hands to pass them out, LEOs appeared out of nowhere and grabbed my wrists, apparently thinking they had just made the biggest drug bust. The disappointed looks on their faces was precious. We had a mighty good laugh, but the LEOs were bit upset after that.

    They continued to watch people go through their backpacks and purses, so I started warning people when LEOs were watching them. They split after that.

  3. Interesting, Emily, as I was pulled over by a BLM Ranger about 10 seconds past greeters in the wee small hours of Wednesday night, pre-event, for “expired tags”. We had a lovely conversation about the event, and about the difficulty of getting emissions components for an almost antique truck (I had paid the registration, but had not yet gotten slogged). He gave me a warning for expired tags and no license plate light. First time I’ve been stopped out there in 20 years.

    The next day, at Bruno’s, I had another good conversation with another LEO (USFS , I believe) who admits he occasionally entertained thoughts of “going native”, walking across the desert leaving a trail of olive drab uniform opponents. Interestingly, his personal mission was to bust focussing “date rape drugs” (mentioned rufies and GHB).

    Our best LEO interaction was on Burn Night. Returning to camp, I pulled up to a BLM Ranger rig near the Esplanade, and asked them if they’d had a good burn. They had, and they asked us if we liked schwag. They then handed all of us necklaces. Monofilament cord with a lovely silver pig pendant. Had to give them credit for their sense of humor.

    Yes, they are trying to make some busts, but they are also there because we’re a city of 70k people, and we have a fair number of sexual assaults, domestic violence instances, and a variety of other situations that LEOs are pretty much required for.

    In the past, a lot of friends had fairly catastrophic LEO experiences at BM that should not have happened (and none were substance related, oddly enough). And they resolved well. But past years had a much more confrontational and aggressive LEO presence.

  4. Anyone else notice the line of 15 BLM rangers going up 34 towards the playa in the afternoon of gate opening day?

    Once inside though, saw very few LEOs, mostly just BLM rangers driving slowly on the first and last day.

  5. Rode by BLM camp near Rod’s road one afternoon. They were calling everyone over for cake! Much friendlier this year.

  6. This was my eighth year burning and I’ve never once had a problem with law enforcement. This year they were particularly open to conversations, keeping a good eye on supporting people who needed it and in generally enjoying the Burn. Let’s keep that vibe going by not being stupid and horning that they have a job to do. With 65k + people out there, I appreciate a watchful eye.

  7. Peace officers instead of law enforcement officers. Go home and keep the momentum. If the Burner Culture ever has it’s moment in the sun, this is it.

  8. Probably shouldn’t be too quick to play Hug-a-Cop at Burning Man. Undercovers were out there dressed as bunnies and posing as DPW. They are there to bust you, not to be your friend. I’ve even seen BRC Rangers participating in camp raids.

  9. The police we interacted with were so friendly and personable. I was really pleased with their demeanor and they even gave us gifts (cups and bracelets). Thanks for keeping us safe and supporting our event guys!

  10. We had a breakdown on 447 around 1am on Monday night. The problem was diagnosed as a ruptured fuel tank that needed a JB-Weld patch. The Highway Patrolman stopped to help and drove me 60 miles round trip back to Fernley to pick up repair material and we were back on the road by 3am. He was the nicest and friendliest HP officer I’ve met in my life. Thank you, Officer Chris. Enjoy your Tahitian honeymoon!!!!

  11. Yeah fucking right. law enforcement will always be exactly that. dont think that because they were chill with you this year they were chill with others. it was our fourth year never having any problems, they pull us over five seconds past greets for no lisence plate on our trailer (one was on our truck of course) and immediatly bring out K9 and give us 675$ tickets. There should never be reports on law enforcement. They are always busting somebodys ass.

    • So you’re mad becuase you broke one of the simplest laws? I’m suprised you got all the way there without getting pulled over …. Your logic is flawless

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