Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Perils of stealth camping, hiking, or even jogging in the US


Display Avatars Sort By:
HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Perils of stealth camping, hiking, or even jogging in the US on 03/26/2014 10:01:59 MDT Print View

This guy was homeless (James Boyd) not a recreational user, but still shows the dangers when confronted by law enforcement in a nice area as darkness falls (the Foothills Open Space is between the very nice suburbs of Albuquerque for day-use hiking/running/mountain biking and the Sandia National Forest where backpacking is allowed).

Warning: Graphic video for violence, some blood on a stone

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/24/james-boyd-killed-by-cops_n_5021117.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

Knowing the area well, I'm guessing a homeowner or passerby saw Boyd's camp and called the police, resulting in a 3-hr argument that devolved into shooting. Moral of the story is not to grab your stuff if confronted by the police (Ok, make sure the officers see your open hands too).

Another problem is the trigger-happiness of the police and not just by the increased militarization. Over 20 years ago (1991), I was jogging on a trail just outside the city limits. Coming down a trail in high sunlight, I saw 3 figures and, getting closer, made out there were two policemen cuffing a Hispanic male. Just as I made out they were police officers, one drew out his pistol and pointed it at me. I quickly put my hands up but with a fluorescent yellow-green T-shirt (ironically to make me visible to shooters - I was not in "open space"), I think they realized I was just a passerby and not a member of whatever gang. After that I joined the military and exclusively jogged on military bases (mostly practice for physical fitness tests) but never really felt comfortable trail-running or even day hiking near cities unless on a very established trail. 1991.

I also brought this up as I tried recreating AmyL's loop north of San Francisco a bit over a week ago (had to use some airline miles). Going towards Mt. Tam, I developed a painful callous on my left foot and had to retrace/detour into very pricey Mill Valley, CA for callous ring bandages and salicylic acid in the late PM (right before Daylight Savings Time). The map I had was old and the trail was rerouted passed unfenced back yards of very expensive homes (it was signed). Guess there's plenty of night walkers with headlamps, so no problems with the police but the trail started veering away from the road towards the pharmacy. I ended up in a wetland between a school and .. who knows. Made it to the road, got my foot taken care of, spent the morning in Sausalito (coffee,bay, maps and bus routes), and took a detour to make up for the lost time (had a free plane to catch), ... but it could have been complicated had the police been called.

So as summer 2014 (and questions of stealth camping pop up), I'm guessing expensive looking trail running gear might mitigate a lot of this if someone calls law enforcement on you.

Edited by hknewman on 03/26/2014 11:21:00 MDT.

Bily Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Perils of stealth camping, hiking, or even jogging in the US on 03/26/2014 11:15:54 MDT Print View

One of the problems with the euphemistic term, "Stealth Camping", is that it masks the illegal nature of this illegal camping.

When you make the choice to camp illegally you should understand that there are risks... some of which are presented by HK.

Billy

Kevin Buggie
(kbuggie) - M

Locale: NW New Mexico
Re: Perils of stealth camping.... I met this very guy on a trip on 03/26/2014 11:53:21 MDT Print View

Small world, BPL.

I met the guy killed by APD in the video above last summer at the end of a 7 day packrafting trip. It's sobering and sad to watch that video.

I was waiting hours for the southbound Railrunner train in Bernalillo, just north of Albuquerque. The depot was mostly deserted as it was the middle of the day, and James approached me and offered an unopened bottle of water, in exchange for reading the newspaper I had just finished. He wasn't that clean cut (ex-military hippy-ish I thought at the time), but his clothing and backpack were immaculately clean despite obvious use. Quite the contrast from my muddied HMG pack, and houdini jacket and pants I had been wearing for a week. The topic of our discussions led me to think he was a little off, but thanks to he and the other people I met that day taking public transportation home from a great trip, it could have easily been the best day of that trip. Now its quite the post-script.

Trip report here:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=85887&skip_to_post=732138#732138

I can't agree with how he interacted with the cops in that video, but man, it's a dangerous world to be doing things outside of the norm these days (just last weekend I was spotlighted in the middle of the night while 'stealth' camping at the river put-in at Montezuma Creek, Ut. Both my hands went up, as I wiggled out of the quilt...)

Edited by kbuggie on 03/26/2014 11:55:31 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Perils of stealth camping, hiking, or even jogging in the US on 03/26/2014 12:01:22 MDT Print View

Always another side to the story:
"During Friday’s press conference, Chief Eden released video of the moment when officers first contacted Boyd. When one officer went to frisk Boyd, the homeless camper could then be heard refusing to comply, saying he was a government agent. The video shows Boyd continued to refuse officer commands and began threatening their lives.

“I’m almost going to kill you right now. Don’t give me another directive. Don’t attempt to give me, the Department of Defense, another directive,” said Boyd at the beginning of the incident.

As the hours passed, Chief Eden said an APD Crisis Intervention Team officer and a State Police liaison were called to the scene. Both attempted to speak with Boyd, however, Chief Eden says Boyd continued to threaten officers with death. Police also discovered that Boyd had a violent 20-year criminal history that included multiple incidents of violence against officers. Boyd’s history also showed years of mental health related concerns.

Video shows when officers moved in on Boyd around 7:30 p.m on the night of the shooting. At the beginning of incident, Boyd can be heard saying, “In a private world, if you were down at a bar or a bus stop, I would have the right to kill you right now because you’re trying to take me over. Don’t get stupid with me!”

http://krqe.com/2014/03/21/apd-officer-involved-shooting-was-justified/

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Perils of stealth camping, hiking, or even jogging in the US on 03/26/2014 12:08:26 MDT Print View

I realize its easy to play arm-chair quarterback from the comfort of my home, but wouldnt a taser have stopped that whole ordeal about 2:58hrs before he was shot? Did they only have AR-15s and flash bang grenades?

Ryan

Edited by ViolentGreen on 03/26/2014 12:09:06 MDT.

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Re: Perils of stealth camping, hiking, or even jogging in the US on 03/26/2014 12:15:46 MDT Print View

Justin:

Ah, I thought the officer told Boyd that if down at a bar .. he would have the right to kill him via the video. Did I just wake up to decaf? Still, an extreme example, but then again, I've had a police pistol pointed at me back in '91 in broad daylight while jogging in the desert (nowadays, I guess that would be trail running) back to the city limits - all while minding my own business.

Now Boyd had mental issues, but my concern is some more volatile campers caught stealth camping may attempt to challenge law enforcement to make, let's say, a political point or do anything avoid a hotel room stay. Also more to the point, stealth camping near urban areas or transportation corridors (supposedly enroute) may be reported to the authorities as "suspicious behavior" and it's probably best not to argue with police in the darkness, make any strange moves, etc.. .

Ryan:
That's my thought is the argument went on for hours so the officers knew he wasn't on angel dust or meth. Too risky for a big butterfly net, ... though a taser (or 2) would have been appropriate here I think. I didn't see a social worker with a $5 box of Colonel Sander's original recipe fried chicken either that may have diffused the situation without violence (maybe break some "relaxing" meds into the iced tea) - as it is the city may be sued by the relatives, patrolmen replaced by rookies until cleared, etc.. Add I do not certainly blame the police for bringing in what seems to be some sort of SWAT (that sight on the carbine and the railing system on the helmet give it away, btw), but when it was clear they were dealing with a delusional person, a negotiator should have been brought in with goodies.

Even have "fish and gam"e tranquilize the dood like a mountain lion caught in city limits. If an agile mountain lion can be shot with a tranquilizing dart, an overweight American shouldn't be that much more of a challenge (double the dosage though).

Edited by hknewman on 03/26/2014 13:08:50 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Perils of stealth camping, hiking, or even jogging in the US on 03/26/2014 12:22:48 MDT Print View

I stopped to pee at the Sandy River off I-84. Walked down closed road 100 feet.

Police came along and asked what I was doing there. Asked if I had a car.

They were looking for homeless people camping out.

I told them I stopped to pee. I put my hand in my pocket and beeped my car unlocked to show them I had a car.

They told me to keep my hands out of my pockets.

Eventually they decided I was harmless and got a bit friendlier.

I guess I have to find a new place to pee.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
stealth camping on 03/26/2014 12:39:42 MDT Print View

About 5 yrs ago, I was on a section of the Arizona Trail perhaps 50 miles or so from the Mexico border.

At oh-dark-early, I hear what sounded in my groggy state like a herd of elephants coming through. A radio crackle. And "Never mind, they are just campers".

I should say that I was sleeping under stars. Another friend was sleeping under the stars as well. Our other hiking partner? He had a tent up.

If the border patrol had just seen me under stars with no tent in sight, I imagine the early morning wake up would have been from the wrong end of an M-4. :O


So it ain't just "stealth camping" where you have to worry.

As an side, "stealth camping" does not always mean illegal. Out west it has that connotation. Back east, with its ample shelters and designated camps, it often means camping in a non-designated, usually legal, area.

Edited by PaulMags on 03/26/2014 12:41:34 MDT.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: Perils of stealth camping, hiking, or even jogging in the US on 03/26/2014 12:42:55 MDT Print View

Any time law enforcement officers tell you to do something, especially if their weapons are out, do it. Argue about your rights once your lawyer is there - and let him/her do the arguing. Until then, just comply. Anything else is foolish, dangerous, and usually illegal.

If this confrontation lasted several hours per the report, I think the LEOs were remarkably restrained and patient.

Boyd, with his psychiatric and social problems, was his own worst enemy, from where I sit. The police were within their rights to protect themselves from his aggression, his refusal to comply, and his drawing a weapon.

Tazers are iffy weapons in that they can trigger heart attacks and other fatal trauma. Most police departments have strong restrictions on their use, even when allowed. Gel-type pepper spray can be effective, but needs to be carefully aimed at a fairly close range. Harder to use than a bean bag gun. Spray-type pepper spray can take out both the sprayer and the target - not good.

Kevin Buggie
(kbuggie) - M

Locale: NW New Mexico
Re: Re: Re: Re: Perils of stealth camping, hiking, or even jogging in the US on 03/26/2014 12:55:59 MDT Print View

This latest incident in Albuquerque is the next in a long-line of fatal APD shootings (to the extent that APD is in the midst of a long FBI investigation regarding civil-rights violations), many of which involving mentally unstable people. Concurrently and more related to the thread, the Albuquerque-area police/sheriff departments are cracking down on illegal camping within the metro area (mostly along in the bosque-riverside forest along the Rio Grande). Culminating in this unfortunate encounter.

This affects me in several ways as a BPL adventurer type. I'd like the option of free camping options at the start or finish of a trip as most public transit in NM goes through Albuquerque. The Rio Grande is also one of our only perennially flowing rivers (think packraft trips) and the bosque is a fantastically beautiful place to camp (just dont burn it down).

So, I'm torn between thoughts:

Should I be thankful that when/if I choose to break the rules and camp quietly without fire along the river, I am safer to a degree because the cops have chased out all the homeless camps (that may include mentally unstable folks)?

Should I be upset that both myself and homeless-types have lost a beautiful and legal place/way to camp?

Should I expect different treatment because I'm recreating (like being able to buy a camping permit) and the homeless are presumed to be trespassing?

Should I avoid the issue all together and save myself and a law enforcement officer the stress and potential danger of an encounter while i'm 'stealth' camping?


thoughts?

HK Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: stealth campers on 03/26/2014 13:29:56 MDT Print View

@ Kevin - I hear you on some homeless appearing very clean. Recently on a regional bus got hailed in the mountains by a fairly well-dressed man (clean jeans, clean hat, button up check shirt) carrying a fully-laden Osprey 85L pack while bike-packing in the mountains and the bike broke, etc... I caught a slight whiff of non-deorderant (but not "funk"), so I kind of suspected he was living up there since he didn't put any bike in the bike rack up front. Didn't press him on the issue as nothing added up but it started getting strained with the bus driver.

On stealthiness inside most city limits (like the Rio's Bosque), I'd pass unless truly falling short of distance; though your inflated raft may tell your story to any law enforcement - they actually may get a kick out of that. The city engineer might not however ; ) With regular UL gear, think most can pass for adventure joggers until finding a suitable site, then as PMags suggested, setting up a nice shelter.

Edited by hknewman on 03/26/2014 13:32:08 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Perils of stealth camping, hiking, or even jogging in the US on 03/26/2014 13:45:43 MDT Print View

HK Newman, I have no idea if that article is legit or not. It's almost impossible to get the full story on these kinds of things. But there is always another side to the story, or maybe even two other sides to the story.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: re: Perils of stealth camping, hiking, or even jogging in the US on 03/26/2014 16:58:02 MDT Print View

"Tazers are iffy weapons in that they can trigger heart attacks and other fatal trauma. Most police departments have strong restrictions on their use, even when allowed."

They can cause heart attacks, but 99.7% of the time they do not according to the Dept of Justice. I don't know. Seems to work on the COPS TV show. :)

If I had a choice, I guess I would take my chances with the taser over an M4.

Ryan

Edited by ViolentGreen on 03/26/2014 16:59:33 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Perils of stealth camping, hiking, or even jogging in the US on 03/26/2014 17:24:03 MDT Print View

A fatal gun response is never appropriate when the victim only has knife at a distance, imo.

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Perils of stealth camping, hiking, or even jogging in the US on 03/26/2014 18:13:33 MDT Print View

"A fatal gun response is never appropriate when the victim only has knife at a distance, imo."

Yup. I agree.

J Mag
(GoProGator) - F
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Perils of stealth camping, hiking, or even jogging in the US on 03/26/2014 18:19:50 MDT Print View

I think for parks inside city limits overnight stays should remain illegal except in emergency situations. If you want to test out your setup during the day you should be more than welcome to do so (as it is in my area). This is not only out of respect for other park users but also for their safety and yours.

Obviously camping on private property should remain illegal.

Really the only problem I currently have with laws is a lack of backcountry camping at places in my area (e.g. designated tent sites only). But honestly with the amount of trash I see on backcountry trails I can't really blame them :(.

I am from the East and have always associated stealth camping with breaking the law/ park rules. If you are camping legally in a stealthy campsite, you're just camping respectfully IMO.

Edited by GoProGator on 03/26/2014 18:22:50 MDT.

dave e
(hipass) - F

Locale: Los Angeles
f on 03/26/2014 19:18:10 MDT Print View

with only seeing the title if this thread,i was gonna say 'cops'.
i heard about this story and thought i read that the killer had been fired by another agency for violence.Oh well,you know how justice works...this killer/cop will be declared innocent.
Ive had enough encounters with rude,surly and aggressive cops.I think it takes a certain insecure,megalomaniac personality to be one.
I would like to see all cops have to contribute to,from their paycheck or union dues, a fund that pays for wrongfully killed,maimed victims of police brutality/dereliction instead of the taxpayers having to foot the bill via million dollar settlements.It might be the only way to keep cops in line.Also.their union should pay for their ridiculous,oversized funerals not the taxpayers.Also,what other job are you called a veteran after being employed for 6 months???hubris?

Edited by hipass on 03/26/2014 19:23:21 MDT.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Re: Perils of stealth camping, etc on 03/26/2014 20:16:32 MDT Print View

"Tazers ... can cause heart attacks, but 99.7% of the time they do not according to the Dept of Justice."

It only takes one major law suit for a city/county/state to impose restrictive measures on the use of tazers/etc by their LEOs. Last year a guy in Vancouver was killed by a tazer. It directly affected policies of tazer use in SoCal police departments. It's not how often someone is killed, it's the real possibility of a major law suit. Bean bag shotguns are perceived as less harmful and thus less law suit prone. Brandishing a lethal weapon (see below) authorizes the use of lethal force in return.

"A fatal gun response is never appropriate when the victim only has knife at a distance, imo."

Police are trained by their departments to respond to a knife within 21 feet as an immediate lethal threat. If you check through YouTube you can find vids of the "21 Foot Rule" for cops, and why the rule exists. Which means in most jurisdictions, if you pull a knife on an LEO, you get shot, regardless of age, gender, race, etc.

"Ive had enough encounters with rude,surly and aggressive cops.I think it takes a certain insecure,megalomaniac personality to be one."

If everyone you met every day was during the worst part of their day (a run in with a cop for doing something illegal, no matter how trivial), and a certain percentage of those people were possibly going to turn on you with violence, I doubt you would be displaying your normal sweet, happy, friendly disposition either.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: f on 03/26/2014 20:32:47 MDT Print View

"Ive had enough encounters with rude,surly and aggressive cops.I think it takes a certain insecure,megalomaniac personality to be one."

That's about as ignorant a statement as I've seen on these forums. Sure, there are bad cops, just as there are bad apples in any profession, but most are just trying to do an often very difficult job as best they can. I appreciate the men and women who do the job, often without thanks.

dave e
(hipass) - F

Locale: Los Angeles
speak for yourself on 03/26/2014 21:37:02 MDT Print View

That's about as ignorant a statement....''

speak for yourself...i speak from experience,you not so much....
if you lived in LA you wouldnt make an ignorant statement like that-lapd is a gang unto themselves...i had a cop point his gun at me from waist level with his finger on the trigger while he was sitting in his car=i consider that a death threat.My crime was that i walked up to his car to report a car accident down the street.
If youre a cop and you cant not be a homicidal nut,aggressive jerk or have ptsd from your job,get the hell out.Why should taxpayers pay with their lives and tax dollars for their bad behavior?I dont see taxi drivers or 7 11 cashiers killing people like cops do,and they have a higher fatality rate than cops.

Edited by hipass on 03/26/2014 21:41:00 MDT.