Posted by ESC on June 14, 2001
In Reply to: Fishing trip posted by Patty on June 14, 2001
: A while back, I was listening to a man who said he and a friend were stopped while driving in his pick-up truck. The game officers who stopped them searched the truck for rifles or ammunition (because this was not during deer-hunting season). The man was livid as he recounted the story, and described the game officers as being on "a fishing trip."
: I don't want to assume I know exactly what was meant here. But also, how long has this phrase been used in connection with regulations or legal matters. Anything about the usage of the phrase would be interesting. - Patty
The man felt the officers didn't have evidence or any indication of specific wrong-doing. They were just going to "fish around" and see what they could find. This is also called a "fishing expedition" and it's illegal in the U.S. That's my opinion as a non-lawyer. Police have to have a good reason for stopping people. They have to have "probable cause...knowledge of facts and circumstances sufficient in themselves to warrant belief that a crime has been committed..." (Barron's Dictionary of Legal Terms) Example: an officer can't just stop someone walking along the street. If there's been a crime in the area and the person fits the description of the suspect or is acting in a suspicious manner, the officer has probable cause. Again this is a non-lawyer talking here.
A related phrase is the offense of "driving while black." African Americans feel (an a lot of times they're right) that they are stopped and questioned by the police just because they are African Americans.