Disclaimer: All names have been intentionally changed.
Working in law enforcement has its’ challenges. Unfortunately, many people do not tell the truth even after being caught red handed and will often lie to an officer. I’ve gotten used to being lied to and as a result, came up with a few tricks of my own to determine if someone was telling the truth. This was one of those times.
I was on land patrol on the north end of Lake Okeechobee when I decided to check a popular bank fishing spot on the Rim Canal which surrounded the lake. Fishing in this spot was frequently considered excellent as a bridge and rip rap provided good cover for baitfish and bass to hide.
I snuck up to the area without revealing my presence with the intention of watching any people with my binoculars to see what they were doing. I wanted to confirm if any of the people were in fact fishing by casting and retrieving with a rod and reel before asking each for a fishing license. I watched 5 men standing under the bridge next to a parked van. It took me about 20 minutes of surveillance to confirm each man was fishing by casting and reeling with a rod and reel.
I jumped into my hidden patrol truck and drove up to the 5 men. I approached the closest man and asked to see his fishing license. The man immediately responded that he could not speak English. I hoped one of the four other men in the group could speak English and would be able to translate for me. I met with the rest of the men, and each indicated they could not speak or understand English.
I always welcomed different cultures and languages and I learned to speak many of the basic instructions in most of the common languages to help me communicate. This time was different. I could tell each of the men were lying to me. I previously completed several advanced courses in Kinesics which is the process of reading a person’s body language to detect deception. I became suspicious if all 5 fishermen were being untruthful about not understanding English because each man gave me many cues indicating, they were being deceptive and were not being truthful with me.
I’ve encountered a similar situation many times before with a person who gave me an indication they were lying, and fortunately I had a trick up my sleeve. I only used such a trick when I knew without a doubt the person or people were lying to me. I lined all 5 men up shoulder to shoulder. I said in a very loud voice in English, “The person wearing the brown shoes is going to jail!” All 5 men immediately looked down at their feet! (None were wearing brown shoes). They were in fact lying to me and all understood English perfectly! I confronted the men with this fact, and each admitted they were lying to me because they did not possess a freshwater fishing license. I promptly rewarded each man with a $62 citation for Fishing Without a License.
Note: It was very common to come across someone who did not speak English. All languages were always welcome. The trick I described would only be used when the person was lying.
By Steve Wayne
About the Author:
Steve Wayne has spent 30 years as a Fish and Wildlife Officer in the state of Florida. Steve has worked in various roles and locations throughout the state and has promoted to the level of Area Captain supervising 30 officers in 3 counties. During his career, Steve was selected as the State Wildlife Officer of the Year and 16 years later was selected as the Statewide Investigator of the Year by both his agency and from the State Law Enforcement Chief’s Association. In 2019, Steve was part of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Port Investigations team which received national honors as Team of the Year.