Tuesday, 25 December 2007

State Troopers: The Interrogation

The first trooper that approaches us asks Robert's name to confirm his identity. He asks for ID. He looks into the camera and says "hello to anyone watching this on YouTube". It's only the beginning our conversations about YouTube with this feckless cop. He explains to Robert that they were just checking up on him based on a phone call. We still have no idea, at that point, that his own sister had called the FBI to turn him in.

A Sergeant eventually comes over and takes control. It's clear he's in charge, he doesn't joke with us the way the bomb disposal expert does, the Sergeant doesn't wave at the camera. The bomb-disposal trooper deferrs everything to him as the Sergeant put his hand in front of the camera and asked me to turn it off. He took Robert aside and interrogated him separately.

I was left with the feckless trooper. He seemed to have no idea what was going on around him
"We're not holding him, we're just checking up on him"
He wanted to talk about college football, he talked about the riots in London but he was thinking of Paris. "Oh, there all over there" he said, waving his hand to indicate the Atlantic between the United States and everything over there.

I was sure that Robert was being arrested. It would be a quick and possibly easier end to his plans, saving him being on the run for 30 days, saving him the fear and tension of knowing, over the next month, that the military was looking for him. I was doing my best to follow his interrogation with the Sergeant while humouring the Trooper in front of me, now asking me questions about the reason for this film.

I made up a story about filming a documentary on the regeneration of small American towns. It was all I could think of after I looked up the name of Robert's town online and found it contained a "traditional" Main Street, and an old cinema opened by the original Warner Brothers themselves.

"But what about your friend in the military, what are you doing with him?"
"Uh...well, with these small towns, when a lot of guys go to the military, they lose a lot of their work force, so that has a lot of influence on how they have to re-generate their cities."

He seemed happy with that, and threw in his own opinion.
"Yeah, I know Torrington pretty well, it's a pretty - I don't want to be insulting - but it's a pretty lower class place where there aren't many opportunities for guys."

While trying to pretend I was keeping up a conversation with the Trooper, I kept looking over my shoulder to see what was happening with Robert and the Sergeant. Barely concentrating, I kept talking with the Trooper about sports, music, college...

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