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A Dragonfly's Day in Court

Aug 8, 1999
Well, half an hour maybe, and not intentionally.

Many of you know the story about my having a salad fork confiscated when I entered San Fernando Superior Court. Well, Jim has been nagging me to carry a knife regularly. I finally started carrying a Spyderco Dragonfly in my pants pocket. One day I was hand-filing some papers in Burbank Superior Court. I was not wearing my sincere blue attorney suit since I would only be dealing with the clerk at the filing window. I put my purse and briefcase on the conveyor belt and started to walk through the metal detector. I beeped. I emptied out my left pocket which contained my keys and various other items, some of a feminine nature. I still beeped. I removed my wristwatch and dumped it in the dish. I still beeped. I then realized that my Dragonfly was still in my right pocket. I usually remember to leave it in the car. My problem was that all my other possessions had passed through the metal detector and I couldn't reclaim them without an explanation.

The male security guards were discussing hockey. I pulled the Dragonfly out of my pocket, put it in the dish, and partially concealed it under a five dollar bill and two tampons. Guys never look at tampons too closely. I went through okay and dumped the contents of the dish into my briefcase without anyone noticing that I had just smuggled a knife into the courthouse. Actually, it wasn't smuggling since it would have been noticed if any of those clowns had actually been paying attention. I figured I had plausible deniability since the knife was visible. I just hope that no real sociopathic ladies ever figure out the tampon thing.

Maybe part of the problem is that people who do not fit stereotypes are not scrutinized as much as others. I was fiftyish "white" lady in a pink T-shirt, not a young, "tough-looking" Latina or Afro-American. I agree that security should pay closer attention to "tough-looking" people, but I always think of Dan White - a terribly respectable ex-county supervisor who bypassed security and murdered two extremely popular public officials, one of whom had invited him into his office.

Toni "The Fork" Mattis

[This message has been edited by Toni Mattis (edited 02 September 1999).]
Toni, what do you expect from people who are making $7 an hour? Truth is they should have been more on the ball and looked, especially when the metal detector went off. However you handled the situation well, thanks to some quick thinking. Tampons are like Kryptonite to guys. Maybe someone can make a pink Concealex sheath shaped like some of the common feminine products. This would probably not work on female guards though.
Last Monday I was in court and I put my keys into the basket and walked through the metal detectors. Before the the guard gave me back my keys, he inspected every individual item on my keychain. The reason? Looking for a keychain knife or multi tool. I guess we have more concientious rent-a-cops here in Massachusetts. God forbid I might have a serrated Ladybug on my keychain! (There`s the "s" word again)

[This message has been edited by Steve B. (edited 02 September 1999).]
The last time I was in a courthouse I forgot to leave a rather large Gerber bolt-action in the car. The guards (sheriffs) admired it and were impressed with the edge. They stuck it in a envelope and promised to take good care of it until I left! The joys of living in Florida I guess.

I knew a judge once who forbade weapons in his court room. Even his bailif was clean. He did not live to regret it.

Just a note on profiling. I own a travel agency in TN. One of our elderly clients was flying out of Nashville earlier this year and was accosted at the security check point at the airport. We do not understand why but she was escorted to the security room and strip searched.Nothing was found on her or inm her checked luggage that they checked. She missed the flight she was booked on. They held her for three hours.She, relating the story to someone in my office was justifiably upset and confused. I think more would have come of this but she was on the way to bury her brother and was not hersself. I never have heard of profiling an eightyseven year old woman. But I am never surprised with the stupidity of any institution.

Watch you topknot.


"Cet animal est tres mechant;quand on l'attaque il se defend."("This animal is very mischievous: when it is attacked it defends itself")
The same thing happened to me at the Orlando airport with my Spydie Civilian!
I forgot to leave it in the car and forgot it was in my pocket! At the metal detector, the guards, then the cops, just looked at it admiring its wierd shape!They flicked it a couple times, asked me where to get one!! Then,they bagged it, kept an eye on it, then gave it back! No problem!! I carry an illegal knife of some sort on a daily basis, and may pay for it sooner or later. I thought that was the day for sure!!!!!
I usually carry either a Reeves Umfaan or a Vero Beach M-UDT in the pocket of my business suit. These two knives are almost exactly the same size and weight.
I've carried a pocket knife of some sort daily for over 35 years and regard them as a utility tool and not a weapon.
Two years ago I was summoned for jury duty. To make a long story shorter, I ended up being the jury foreman in a murder trial here in Oklahoma County.
Anyway, the FIRST day I arrived at the courthouse I emptied all the contents of my pockets. There was the M-UDT for all to see.
The guard took it and said I could pick it up at the end of the day.
Days turned to weeks and all the guards knew and liked my little knife.
I explained the history of the knife and its relationship to Microtech, and even provided the addressed of several web dealers to the guards that had to have one. One morning I arrived at the metal detector station and presented my knife. The guard was beaming back at me and immediately presented his that he had received the night before.
Generally, we were in court from 8 to 5.
During deliberations we stayed much later. On these nights the bailiff himself would escourt the jury to the locked door and return the knife to me.
On the final night of deliberations we were there until almost 11:00 pm. That night the judge himself returned my knife.
We sent the bad guy to death row.
At no point during the 45-day ordeal was I ever confronted with the fact that my knife was "illegal" or a "weapon".
Maybe it was my salt & pepper hair, or that I looked like someone's dad. It could have been the way I regard my knives, or it could be that I live in the grand state of Oklahoma.
I don't know, but I was never hasseled


[This message has been edited by Bill McWilliams (edited 02 September 1999).]
It depends where it happens and who you deal with. I went to the federal building in NYC and that building houses federal courts, immigration, corp of engineers and other fed agencies. Rent-a-cops on the job. Wouldn't let me in with my Spyderco "Wayne Goddard" and wanted to confiscate it on the spot, they even tried to prevent me from leaving!

Another time I went to the Fed Courthouse. Security run by Fed Marshals. Showed them the knife when I came in. Got the old "cool, look at what i'm carrying" from the marshal at the metal detector. Took a "toe tag" put my name on it locked up my knife and got it later when I left, no problems

~ JerryO ~
You know the story about Nashville's airport is sort of funny because when I was a student at Vanderbilt I flew in and out of the airport 10 or so times a year and caried a knife onto the plane every time. I always stuck it in my carry on luggage while I went to security. I once had my bag hand searched, but right after they opened the bag and saw all the stuff that they would have to go through to find whatever it was they were looking for, they zipped back up my bag and told me to have a nice flight.
The guards at the Federal Building that houses the US Marshal's Office and a couple other agencies here in Sacramento, CA let me through with a serrated Spydie Merlin, but not with a plain CS Med. Clip Voyager. Go Figure.

I won't even go into the Secret Service Office security...I guess they figure that no one would want to get them...maybe just their boss. Another "go figure."
Two years ago LAX let me through the gate with an endura clipped to my pocket. I forgot to put it in my baggage, and I was expecting to lose it. I walked right on through.

I have noticed that my blue native (plain edge) makes a decent money clip if I loosen the screw a litte. Any one elses's clip screw so tight that you had to damage it to remove it?

Just another airport story: Several years ago when I was assigned as an instructor for the Marine Corps Reserve in Alaska we were returning from annual training in CA. While changing planes in Seattle (which luckily hadn't started their insane knife laws yet)we had to pass through security, for the 3rd time that day when the security types saw my serrated Spyderco Police model I thought they were going to have heart attacks, luckily with a little fast talking they let me keep it and get on the plane. Today I wouldn't even try to carry on a SAK they have gotten so anal.
I'm sure my story would have turned out different if I was carrying a partially serrated AFO, particularly if it had a "tactical" clip.
The VBM/UDT is a handy, well-made little cutting tool.

I used to live in Nashville. Always allow extra time to get through security at BNA as folks in Nashville dress with a lot of metal.
I once had the misfortune to be in line behind Diamond Rio. Imagine trying to get five country stars and their party through. Belt buckles, hats, shirts and pants with metal ornaments, boots, jewlery, these guys practically had to strip right there.

For a while, airport security nationwide was doing extra searches of randomly-selected passengers. To assure no prejudice, they simply took every nth passenger aside for a special search. If you're a smuggler or criminal, just wait hang around the gift shop until you see number n get taken aside, then make for the checkpoint.

Seattle - I've flown from Burbank CA to Seattle WA, and back again, with a Delica-class folder (plain edge) three or four times now, and never had a problem with it at the checkpoint.

US domestic airline security is much less paranoid than courthouse security that I've heard of.

AKTI Member # SA00001
Airport security is often contracted out to some company that hires people at near minimum wage and gives them very little training. They're also often quite rushed. The airlines see them as an inconvenience to their customers and pressure them to be minimally intrusive. Nobody likes them, everybody hates them. Furthermore, in a large airport, there are always several lines and often several checkpoints that lead to the same areas. So, if there was to be a problem, it'd be impossible to determine who was to blame. Finally, it's been a long, long time since an airplane was hijacked out of a US airport. So, it's really hard to get to serious about the problem.

Courthouses, on the other hand, are often secured by folks working for the sheriff's office, it's likely to be a little more serious, a little more professional. There's often only one or two checkpoints with one or two people on each. The sense of personal responsibility is a bit higher. Violence in courtrooms and associated offices is a growing problem. So, there's much more of a sense of urgency. Finally, hopefully, the people who work in those offices express to the guards their appreciation of their efforts.

So, while you can point to specific examples either way, I suspect that you're much more likely to face agressive security measures at a court house or federal building than you will at most, especially larger, airports.

Balisongs -- because it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing