I had to meet with a client today right in the Chicago loop. Day started okay, sun out, spring(ish) - nice. Had to meet my client at 2pm and headed out quite a bit early (I am on average 90 minutes from the city proper). So, on to I90 east. Construction…what ever.
I get near the Des Planes Oasis (a McDonalds and fuel stop that is over the toll way). You get a perfect view of ORD and what is coming in and going out. I get off of the highway, get on my mobile hot spot and park in a lot near the airport and watch a number of smaller domestics coming in (Live ATC in the back round).
So, next thing I know a cop in an all white car pulls up, asks what I am doing. I tell him “watching planes”, show him the computer, Flight Aware and LiveATC. He goes to his car, talks on the radio for a good five minutes. Another car pulls in. Another cop. He gets out of his car, they talk and ask if they can search my car. With nothing to hide at all, and no reason to hide anything I reply “Um, no you can not search my car”. In the time cop one was on the radio I locked my PC and put a power on password as well as confirming my drive is encrypted (not that they cant get past that in 60 seconds). I also removed the battery from my cell phone and put it under my car seat in a semi-secret OEM compartment.
Cop 2 tells me that “TSA may come over and search you car” - “they dont need a warrant”. I reply, “Okay, I guess there goes the fourth amendment”. I had locked my car with the windows up - they went round and round and round looking into the windows. Cop 1 comes back and tells me “we ran you all the way through” (I am not sure what that means). Said that they had all of my information and if I “knew what was good for me” I would “stop watching aircraft near the airport”. He hands me back my DL, my insurance, my SS card (he saw it in my wallet and asked for that too). He then says “we keep track of everyone, and your not allowing us to search your car does not sit well”.
I pull out - cop 2 follows me out of the industrial park I had pulled into (no signs saying not to park there, I was REALLY looking on my way out). No signs - and not only that, on week days I am sure that this same lot is full of cars with people just going to work.