Police and bands and parties.
Ever been playing and have the police bust the event? I want to talk about gear confiscation.
I have only been threatened with it not actually had my gear taken.
A few times, the first was at a party with about 3000 people showing up. San Diego County place called Poway. Took them almost two hours just to get to the house. The day before the party someone took a handful of flyers and tossed them into the wind and the Sana Anna winds were going full bore.
We were playing the same set for the 4th time I think it was, we were a new band with only about 9 songs. I look up and a Deputy is in my face giving me the cut it sign. I do. We stop. Police ask us to pack it up. We were on the last song anyway but they mentioned us getting lost so they don't have to impound our gear.
Another time we were at a Festival in an industrial area and someone left the party and hit a fence poll a mile down the road. This event had all the necessary permits to be held legally and the police showed up and ordered it all closed down. We were seconds away from starting the first song. At some point the police got pushy with the people holding the event and threatened to take all the band gear on the property. That was a lot of gear too. We of course complied and started packing up before someone in charge changed their minds.
The worst one was a gig on an Indian Reservation. Same deal a few bands and we were literally on the 4 count to start the set. A lot of people where there and the energy and mosh pit was primed for release. Cops show up out of no where in our face and tell us, "If you play a single note we will confiscate your gear".
Talk about a real downer. You know it's a free gig done for exposure and there was gonna be good exposure. I don't know why the police were called but it really pissed everyone off because it was indian lands and the cops were SD Sheriff's. Someone leaving the party hit a fence or something so instead of addressing the problem with the offender Collective guilt mentality took over and the entire event was shut down.
Oh almost forgot one. There was a festival planned in Poway with the local metal act and some outside the town bands like the one I was in at the time tho I was a Poway local we were considered a San Diego Band. This one had all the permits needed as well and there was no complaints at all. It seemed the problem was the even made the local media so the police just decided they would avoid any problems by just shutting it down.
Anyway they were serious about taking our gear and needless to say none of us being rich packed it up as soon as we could. They had the Helo flying over and the whole 9 yards at both the last two examples.
I am on a forum called Gun Broker and there are cops on there and I asked them about gear confiscation and they never heard of such a concept but they were Texas cops and other states other then CA. They say no legal ability to confiscate the bands gear not being involved in a crime.
ANYONE ever dealt with this playing private events or actually had your gear taken? I always wondered what hell it would have been to try and get it back.
If you like to play illegal events, then confiscation is always a risk, like not having insurance for the vehicle, or not declaring your income to the authorities.
Here in the UK, it rarely happens with bands, but Rave type events frequently get raided and the authorities have started smashing the gear up publicly - which makes a great news spot. Piles of amps and speakers being trashed by a digger or Police with sledgehammers make great TV. If you can't afford to lose the gear, don't play dodgy gigs!
There was a case about a Rave in Utah some years ago where it was perfectly legal and all permitted but the police used one case of finding drugs to raid and close down the whole deal.
I have been to arena events where one person lights up a joint and gets hauled off but no one ever thought of closing the whole event down.
Pretty low down to take it out on a band's gear if they were simply contracted to play someplace.
When I first started playing 35 years ago, I played a few house parties where the police showed up. They never threatened to confiscate gear they just told us to turn down. At one party, the police officer said we would have to stop playing. When I informed him that unless we played after 10 PM, we were not violating and noise ordinances. He agreed and said we could play until 10. He stayed, watched us and when we finished he told us that he enjoyed the band and asked us to play a party at his house.
Police shut three of gigs this past year. They didn't take our gear, but threatened to do so. This was in San Diego. Now, in La Jolla, there is no noise ordinance. We played a Christmas party, someone complained and we were shut down at 7pm on a Saturday night. Only because someone complained. On top of threatening to take our gear, the homeowner would be hit with $1000 fine if we continued to play. A couple hundred people went home really bummed.
the only time Police ever came was at a practice we were having - we converted an attached garage to a rehearsal hall and had the door open because it was summer - I was playing looking down and all of a sudden the music stopped (except for me) I looked up and there was the local PD - looking at me in particular and smiling- he said you guys are pretty good - just keep it down - turned around and walked away
I have never even heard of such a concept as gear confiscation (and most certainly not smashing of gear by the police, although the social mores on this kind of thing are apparently different in the UK). On the face of it it seems completely outrageous, and I seriously doubt whether it is even legal, or simply a threat used by the police in order to bluff musicians whom they assume are ignorant of their legal rights.
If you're serous about putting a stop to such abuses, there are several avenues you might pursue. The first would be to thoroughly research the law, and see whether there are indeed any statutes or ordinances that give police the right to seize your gear. If there are not, then the next time this kind of thing happens, you might consider challenging the police to cite the specific legal authority by which they claim the right to take your gear. If they are bluffing, and if you stand your ground, you might just get them to back down.
Another route you could consider - and this is if you're willing to go all the way - is to scout around in advance for a public interest law firm that might be willing to back you up in a lawsuit against the police and/or the municipality in question, should your gear actually get confiscated at a gig. If & when that happens, the lawyer(s) could then immediately file a suit on your behalf - or threaten to do so - and if you win, you not only get your gear back, but more importantly, you preclude the police and/or that municipality from ever taking anybody's gear again. It's a thought. :hmm:
You have rights. If you haven't broken any laws, and if the police have been abusing their authority, then you also have legal recourse against them.
Mike's right. This sounds like a case of the LEOs abusing their authority and your ignorance, particularly in the instances where you had permits and/or were on Indian land. LEOs can't confiscate your gear unless you are using it to commit a crime or it was stolen. Period. SD police have zero authority on a reservation, either, unless they are actively pursuing a criminal.
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
- Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
I have twice in the last year had the cops called on us for excessive volume at bar gigs. Both at the same bar, which we no longer play at by the way. They made us turn down, but then came back again because we were still too loud. Turns out the jack ass bartender was leaving a side door open so she could still hear the band when she went out to smoke.
Anyway, cops smashing or taking your gear is illegal and most likely felony stealing or destruction of property. Period.
Belongs in the gig stories board.
We have been threatend by the police but they never followed through. We did howver play a New Years eve gig at a club I think it was called goodies back then were the audience did so much damage to the club that they tried to hold our equipment and us by locking the doors after they cleared the place. Once word got out people broke in one of the doors and everybody got our stuff out and loaded. Now that I'm 25yrs older I don't think they could have done anything. They did do there homework, the week or two before we opened for Aversion and a huge bar brawl or mini riot started. Good old Punk Rock gang followings get you banned from everywhere
I'm sorry I was in a trance/timewarp. I really think it depends on the officers, how the crowd and the band receive and communicate w the officer. During the 80's we were probably threatend by the police more often then not granted they never took our equipment but I know on one occasion the home owners son was given a noise ticket. It also may have been the areas we played had large amounts of gang activity and loud noise was last on the care list for the officers..
What Mystic Mike said.
Back in the 80s we would play gigs at people's high school parties with lots of underage drinking. The cops came to shut us down a couple of times, but never threatened to confiscate our gear. In fact, they pretty much assumed the band was hired help and left us alone, going after the kids throwing the party or smoking doobs or whatever. We all went to school with those kids and were often drinking, too, but whatever. That was in South Jersey in the 80s, different place and time.
A few years ago I got a new digital camera and was with my dad, a big railroad fan, standing my the railroad tracks on public property outside of Philadelphia taking piuctures of trains. Up rolls two cops, one of them the borough's police chief, who proceed to threaten to beat the hell out of us and confiscate my camera. After my dad (who was in his 60s with a heart condition) talked the guy into admitting we weren't breaking any laws, he got more aggressive and bullying. I was fuming inside but I kept my mouth shut because I didn't want them to hurt my dad and decided that it wasn't a good time to make a stand.
I know they didn't have any legal ground to stand on, but when you're on the spot you've got to decide whether it's worth it to make a stand or not, there's nowhere to hide.
Oh if I only had a dollar for everytime the cops showed up to shut us down.
I have had events shut down in the past, and been threatened with arrest if we didn't turn down or stop altogether, but never any mention of gear confiscation - doesn't sound legal at all to me...
Seems like it would be an enormouos PITA for the cops to sieze a band's gear - if they could get it all to fit in their car(s), they would have to spend hours carting it to impound, checking it in, and accounting for the paperwork. It would sell them out for the rest of their shift.
I used to play with a guy, Danny... EVERY party we played eventually ended up with the cops showing up. Usually we just called it a night and hit the road... the fun one was when there were several fireworks set up and when the cops showed, whoever was to light the fireworks lit them all... what a mess!
I quickly Googled this article that at least attempts to show some legal justification for confiscation.
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