Tesla Owner Using Supercharger At 1AM Surrounded By 2 Police Cars & Accused Of Suspicious Activity

Tesla’s growing Supercharger network of exclusive electric vehicle charging stations are a new enough thing that most of those who drive or walk by them probably aren’t even aware of what they are.

An interesting story relating this matter was recently discussed on the Tesla Motors Club forum by “ericwol” — who revealed in a post that, while charging at a Supercharger station in Buffalo at 1:00 am, he was surrounded by 2 police cars and accused of “suspicious activity.”

Supercharger 2016

Is charging your Tesla Model S at a Tesla Supercharger on the side of a highway on the way home truly “suspicious?” I have to wonder about that….

Here’s the full comment: “I was at the Buffalo, NY supercharge last night at 1 am when 2 police cars surrounded my car and accused me of ‘suspicious activity’. Has this happened to anyone else? How did you handle this?”

And a follow-up comment that elaborated: “They kept asking what brought me to ‘this area’ I told them that I need to charge my car at part of travelling I-90. They could not understand why I had to do it now. I asked them if I was at a gas station, if there would be a difference? They said if it was closed. I then asked him that are the supercharges closed, because they are currently lit and working correctly, with no posed hours of use. When I got there, there was another car charging, but left 5 mins later, so I was alone. I was there less then 10 mins when all this happened. I have used this charger before, so it was not like I was hunting around for it. I tried to explain about electric cars, but they felt that ‘they did not need to be educated’. I did notice later, that there was a mall security truck in the parking lot behind me (the supercharger is not in the mall, but the parking lots are next to each other separated by a grass strip) so I suspect that he called to cops.”

Interesting story, even if not surprising. I’ve had quite a lot of similar experiences in recent times (and some that considerably eclipse this one…) — things do seem to be heating up in the US, with many police officers becoming seeming more and more belligerent each year.

I’ll invite criticism here by noting that this harassment has come despite being white, and also that I’ve known a notable number of (mostly poor) whites who have been shot or abused by cops in recent years….

56 thoughts on “Tesla Owner Using Supercharger At 1AM Surrounded By 2 Police Cars & Accused Of Suspicious Activity

  1. I prefer the term, Peace Officers. And you should be thankful that they were in the neighborhood, you are what they call a “soft target” at 1:00 am in an empty parking lot driving a Tesla that they would like to take on a joy ride along with your wallet. They were just doing there job.

      1. I’m local and find their surrounding him odd since either state troopers or county sheriffs patrol that jurisdiction (there is no PD for that town). Both should be well aware this Supercharger has been open over a year, aside from one brief outage that I know of. Something seems off, maybe related to the out-of-state plates, but even those aren’t uncommon in a heavily traveled Interstate corridor.

      2. The mall security Truck had placed the call. The peace officers had to respond. Just may be, they were up set over the call from the security truck in the mall because they had to leave the scene of a real crime across town. Next time this happens, I would suggest that the Tesla owner offer to buy them coffee and take the time to thank them for their services. This small act of kindness may get you out of your next speeding ticket. It sound to me that the driver may have had an attitude that they picked up on

        1. > The mall security Truck had placed the call.

          The writer only suspects the mall cop placed the call, plus there had been another Model S charging when the writer arrived. Did you look at his follow-up posts on the original thread? He implied being bullied and harassed, despite his profile as a professional male in his early 50s, FWIW. Once more, I say it all seems odd.

          1. It’s a problem in this country when we have the idea that:

            > despite his profile as a professional male in his early 50s

            Gets you different treatment of any kind from PD.

            I understand you did not mean to slight anyone jpw (FWIW), but there is an implicit bias attributed to the parties involved (and absent).

            btw, I am a professional male in his early 50s.

          2. It is sad, isn’t it? I’m sure glad I’m not one of the races or of an age that we comfortable middle aged white male professionals think should automatically receive police harassment.

            Thankfully he wasn’t “charging while not white”, or even worse, legally carrying a firearm while not white. It might have ended quite differently.

  2. Had I bumped into these “peace officers” when I was at this same Buffalo Supercharger at 1am, immediately after I hit a deer that caused $34,000 in damage, I probably would have been arrested.

    Thank goodness that didn’t happen.

      1. I suspect that not many Tesla owners pass through Buffalo. New York.

        The US police force as a whole has become more militarized, more acting with impunity, lowered standards, institutionalized racism (I’m white, if that matters to some), and just a general lack of professionalism.

        I would expect this type of harassment / cluelessness in the backwoods of Arkansas, West Virgina, or Kentucky. But to have this in New York is just scary.

        I guess I’m “anti-police” like one of the posters suggested. The reality is that we “good guys” have allowed this deterioration of policing because they didn’t come for us… yet.

        1. I’m not anti-police. I am anti-harassment. By anyone. To anyone.

          Agree there seems to be a siege mentality that I don’t recall being aware of 30 years ago.

          otoh, I am aware of rather chilling news photos of civil rights protests. Have seen related movies and documentaries.

          Now we have first person reporting from mobile phones and dash cams.

          So I’m going to conclude that my awareness is different than it was before.

          So this is the “connected” world.

        2. Tony, I am somewhat shocked and rather disappointed in your comments. You are typically so rational on these forums (assuming you are the same Tony Williams on MNL).

          Have the US police become more militarized over the last few decades? Yes. It has been in response to the increasing firepower and lawlessness of the criminal element they try to defend US from. Fighting fire with fire seems rational to me.

          But lower standards and institutionalized racism? Come on, those are MSNBC talking points. Is there racism in our country today? Sure, but on the whole it is far less than what it was 30, 40, 50 years ago. Even 20 years ago. To suggest there is an increase in racism, especially among the police, is simply playing into the victim mentality some people embrace. And the vast majority of so-called racially motivated police shootings over the last few years have been proven by the evidence to be anything but. In fact most of those incidents (Michael Brown, Treyvon Martin, Freddie Gray) have been proven to be one thing; criminals engaged in criminal behavior and reaping the unfortunate results. It’s sad as no one wants to see a young man gunned down, but the message this should send to young people is that if you choose a life of crime, bad things will happen to you.

          Your comment about expecting this type of cluelessness in Arkansas, WV, or KY but not upstate New York is rather hypocritical. You complain of racism, a form of stereotyping, but then suggest the south is stereotypically ignorant. I grew up in and live in the south, and sure there are plenty of “backwoods” places here. But I also know people from Buffalo, NY who are as redneck and white trash as any folks I’ve met in the Deep South. As Hank Williams, Jr. pointed out, country folk are from all over this country.

          Finally, to unashamedly admit you are “anti-police” is reprehensible. I know several police officers and others in law enforcement. The VAST MAJORITY of them are wonderful people who risk their lives every day to protect their communities, and they do so for a salary that most of us on these forums would find woefully inadequate. Instead of looking at the police with disdain, try engaging them in conversation. Or as another poster suggested, buy them a cup of coffee and tell them thanks for serving the community.

          I believe our problem is that we have allowed the narrative on this conversation to deteriorate to a point where those who stand to gain from it speak half truths and jump to conclusions about things with little to no evidence, and we have done nothing to stop them. Please don’t buy into that narrative. Real racism, though rare, does exist and we should strongly condemn it. But shouting racism at everything and every situation that just happens to involve people from different races is not productive and in the end, disrespects those who have actually suffered from authentic racism.

          My apologies to Zach and the other moderators for my long-winded diatribe. Peace out.

          1. I am not anti-police. I made that statement as a tongue-in-check response to a post above that criticizing the policing, or complaining about their conduct was “anti-police”.

            So, as you rightly stated, you agree with me that the police are militarized, moreso than at any point in our history.

            You also agree with the racism. I’m not suggesting that racism is as overt as lynchings in the south, or all the struggles our country has gone through, but it VERY CLEARLY IS PRESENT. Law enforcement acting as they do is a reflection on our society in general.

            As for stereotyping the south, yes, I agree that ignorants are free to roam anywhere. But, I grew up in a rural area (not in the south), and I would never expect to sit at a Supercharger late at night there and get grilled by a police officer. Quite the opposite, actually… they would likely want to chat about the car.

            Like I said, I’ve actually charged in Buffalo at 1am, and based on this report, I probably wouldn’t do it again. These antagonistic exchanges can too quickly end up as an ego match and bullets flying. No thanks.

            I’ve been on the road for the past 10 days (driving my Tesla throughout the west), so I’ve missed whatever MSNBC might have to offer, sorry. I haven’t had a single police interaction.

        3. Tony, just for some background, the SC mentioned is next to a “past its prime” shopping mall on the edge of an affluent suburb with some of the highest property values in the region. That said, it is on a heavily trafficked north/south 6-lane corridor with a blend of traffic, not just long distance travelers, since it’s over a mile off the mainline Thruway that connects the East Coast to Canada and PA/Ohio. The charger is next to an early ’70s Sears anchor store with a rutty parking lot and a vacant building on one side, along with a busy bank/office and newer
          retail on the other side.

          In other words, even though it’s close to a relatively high concentration of local and out-of-town Teslas, the property, after dark, can be a ghost town. Seeing one out-of-town ICE car there at 1 a.m. would stand out. A Tesla, at a Supercharger, well . . . it wouldn’t to those in the know.

          1. Thanks, I think that I will add your comments to PlugShare.

            I also won’t return to Buffalo.

          2. > I also won’t return to Buffalo.

            No problem. You’re free to practice whatever logical fallacy you want. By the numbers, though, the Greater Niagara region is perfectly fine for EV travel and some technology, too—nothing major, just a little hydropower plant by Nikola in the past, and a SCTY PV cell gigafactory today. . . .

          3. >>> logical fallacy <<<<

            Clever… completely overlooking the actual issue as to why I wouldn't return.

    1. I’m not gonna claim I know much about this, but from what I’ve heard from people and read – the cops are more physical and power oriented compared to Europe. And looking at clips of US police, even just a normal day type of clip, they seem high on themselves.

      1. I know only Finnish police and they are decent people. They will use force when needed, but still you can go and talk to them and their are more like friends. Of course anarchists and other assholes disagree.

  3. This really sounds to me like the Tesla owner has an issue with police in general as, were it me, I would have been more than happy to have their company and protection at that time of the morning. This is such a non-story that the fact he bothered to even comment about it on a forum suggests he is anti-police. Unless there was more to it that he isn’t telling us about, of course…

    1. You guys have obviously never heard of the word tyranny. It does happen, and is unfolding before our eyes. It’s just the beginning.

      1. Like it or not, there is a shift in power and authority happening from the Feds to the Cities and States. We can manage it or let it play out on it’s own. Cities now have Intelligence Agencies, Military grade response teams, foreign Embassies (a few) and all the socio-economic growing pains that come from being the centers of activity. It seems logical to assume that some areas will develop into better places to live than others. Call it Feudal, call it evolution, call it what you want, it’s happening and we’re not prepared at any level.
        As we sort ourselves into economic categories, all the usual human traits of avarice, selfishness, fear and hate will attach.

    2. No way. I want the cops to go do their real jobs. I’ve been hassled and had my work disrupted so many times by busybody cops out scraping the bottom of the barrel looking for trouble, that I would rather not have whatever additional safety they think they are providing. There’s a problem with this at a city owned electric vehicle charger near me. The idiots located it across the city parking lot from the police station, and if you get there after about 9 pm and don’t just plug in the car and walk away immediately, and not through the park, they will hassle you. If you cut through the park at night, they will write you a tresspassing ticket.

      Police don’t seem to get that there are things in this world that they don’t know, and asking someone who isn’t obviously doing something wrong to drop what he is doing (even if time sensitive) and explain it and then wait 10 minutes through the police checking up on who you are, is not acceptable. I am more than happy working outside in remote locations at whatever time I feel like without a babysitter.

  4. I have personally had experiences with police officers that have been unpleasant, however, this is not news and the police don’t need more flak right now, especially when they have even more people against them, even hating them.

    If the police approach you while charging, tell them you’re charging and perhaps how long you’ll be there. You don’t need to be a smartass or be snide or rude.

    The police getting a call about something suspicious should be cleared by the fact that someone in fact is charging their Tesla. If the police need more info or want to learn about the car, then do that if you’re comfortable. If not, ask, “Am I free to leave?” When they say yes, thank them and either leave or let them know you’ll be leaving in X minutes.

    If in doubt, request a supervisor and perhaps call Tesla. The Superchargers are open 24/7 so this is a non-issue.

    On a side note, I had a police officer at a coffee shop inquire about my car. He said he had never seen one before. This was just a feww monthss ago. I ended up talking with him at great length about Supercharging, Tesla, batteries, etcetera. He was very pleased.

    The police are not the enemy. Don’t make them to be and don’t blow things out of proportion. Unless you wear a badge or have in the past, you have NO IDEA what they deal with on a daily basis, not knowing whether they’ll make it home that day, doing their best to keep the people who have absolutely nothing to lose from making YOUR life a complete an absolute living hell.

    1. Police departments are under the microscope right now because of the many recent actions of abuse, particularly against the black community. The scrutiny is well deserved and overdue.

      Brian, you open your post describing having unpleasant experiences with police, then go on to defend the very folks that offended you. Strange.

      There are good cops and there are bad cops, just like in society there are good people and there are bad people. But in this modern era of police militarization there is a demonstrated increase in abuse of power by a wide variety of police departments. That is not to say that all are overly aggressive but there certainly are an increasing number of departments that have demonstrated a propensity for abuse.

      The general militarization of our civilian police represents the end of the term “peace officer”. The further along that path we go the less likely it is that the citizenry will be the beneficiaries of ” protect and serve”.

      1. Police departments are under the microscope right now because of the many recent actions of abuse, particularly against the black community. The scrutiny is well deserved and overdue. — akovia

        Most of those “recent actions of abuse” have generally be overblown and have been pretty much borderline lies. I was living in Baltimore Maryland when the rites happened last year. Granted I think Police have way too much power and trust overall and when they make a mistake their seems to be a lot of support in hiding that fact. However most of the recent “raciest” issues haven’t actually been raciest and have been at worst marginal poor police work. The Baltimore issue featured 2 black and 2 white Cops yet it was “raciest”.

  5. I have had my run ins with small town RCMP in Canada, I was on a long distance drive in my LEAF doing the “Coquihalla Challenge” at 1am, and the police decided we were doing something suspicious, initially they were thinking that we were having sex in the car, and my gf was a prostitute. they separated the two of us so they could interrogate us separately, and then they started the 50 questions….

    where are you going?
    why did you stop here?
    how long is it going to take to charge?
    why didn’t you charge up at home before you left?

    after an hour they finally stopped grilling us as part of their “investigation”,
    then told us that we should finish charging in the next 30 minutes.

    1. Sad… These “tough guys” with guns love to make unlawful orders. I would have told them that I unless I were detained or arrested, I would leave whenever I was ready to leave.

        1. It would be unlawful if asking if you were being detained or arrested caused an arrest. Not saying it can’t or doesn’t happen, but it’s not legal.

          1. When you are knocked to the ground, cuffed, and lodged in the back of a squad car, it is a little late to be puffing up about what police action is legal or not legal. Your goose is already cooked. Plan on breakfast in the slammer.

  6. You invited criticism so here’s mine: How do you know that this had anything at all to do with race, color, ethnicity or economic status? If they had said anything like ‘We don’t like people (like you, of your type, poor white trash, rich snobs, black, asian, bohunk, who drive uppity electric vehicles, etc etc) around here’ you would have a basis to make a possible discrimination claim. It’s also possible that the lead officer is just generally rude and suspicious. To everybody.

  7. About 30 years ago, I was driving with flow of traffic just off the traffic light, minding my own business. I get pulled over, so I asked the cop “what’s the matter?”. He said “you were about to speed”. Since then, I had several tickets, some valid, but many completely wrong. But it’s cheaper to just pay it than to take day(s) off to pursue justice, which often judged against you anyway.

    Unlike some popular notion, not all cops are good, and most of my experience with them have been negative. Frankly, I’m always afraid when they’re around than feel protected. And they want me to serve in jury duty and trust cops’ testimony?

    1. > Europe is just as much a shithole. I’m in Munich right now and some
      streets look just like the third world. Don’t get me started on what a
      dump most of uk towns are….

      Folks, these are also Marcel’s words; the glass is half full?

      I agree that rundown areas can be anywhere, but view this short video and see if ‘haha’ still fits Buffalo: https://youtu.be/sBsi5FGbY2Y

      Funny thing, it’s three years old and needs an update—e.g., a wee little SolarCity factory happened to get built here since. . . .

      #perspective #diditmentionwehavefreshwater

  8. I’ve frequented superchargers from Miami to Boston over the past three years, including at least a dozen charges in the wee hours, without major incident. That said, I’ve had security guards call the police twice, both at the same mall parking lot in New Jersey.

    The first time, the officer rolled down his window and excitedly asked questions about the car, paused to excuse his questioning (the station was brand new and he’d never seen a Tesla before). I invited him to check it out, since I still had ten minutes left and he was as delighted as any civilian I’d come across. Popped the frunk and had him sit in the drivers seat. He was relieved at my answer to his “does that monster iPad play video” (no). My take: a stand up officer and gentlemen.

    The second time, same lot, was completely by the book. He’d received a call, just checking it out. He advised me, wisely, to “high tail it” if anybody other than another officer or Tesla driver approached, it being 3 AM in a giant empty mall lot and all. My take: a purely professional interaction, good advice, but left me a bit shaken and leery of returning to that charger again (due to the over zealous security guard, not the officer who was just doing his job appropriately).

    Since then, Tesla’s opened lots of new superchargers in the 24-hour highway service areas. These are much safer at night without question.

  9. Being harassed by cops is always bad, no matter your skin color. It’s just a lot more likely and happens more frequently (proportionately) to get harassed by cops if you’re black.
    As badly trained, trigger happy and paranoid as many American cops are, I fear the day when a Tesla driver gets shot who “suspiciously” charged at 3 am. Even though black Tesla drivers are a small minority I wld bet this to happen to a young male African American. Very sad and a disgrace.

  10. That final comment was very bizzare. No one is suggesting that white Americans don’t suffer police abuse, but the evidence clearly shows that black Americans suffer a very disproportionately higher amount of abuse. You don’t need to say white people get abused too, we already know that – every race does because the cops in America have a sick culture

  11. Cops for the longest time had to fail IQ tests in order to be considered for employment. Sounds incredibly wrong and google search results suggest the practice ended a decade or two ago.

    It’s best to assume the practice continues on in some form or another and that you always be very submissive and act like they are there to help and you to help them. Otherwise you may get shot doing what they tell you to do.

  12. My sincere appreciation to this Tesla owner who bought the electric vehicle and is bold enough to charge at night and James Ayre who published this story.

    I am so sad that the copy copy in this country don’t know about the electric vehicles and the charging concept. Hope they will know this soon.

    Ideally cops should be educated about the electric and plugin vehicles.
    All cops are in high alert after all these terrorist attacks in the recent weeks.

    They should know that its the gas guzzling vehicles which sends billions of petrodollars to those Arab countries which ends in the hands of terrorists.

    Next time they see an Electric vehicle owner, better to say a word of thanks to them.

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