Chuck Shepherd

Almost all law enforcement agencies in America use the Scott Reagent field test when they discover powder that looks like cocaine, but the several agencies that have actually conducted tests for "false positives" say they happen up to half the time. In October, the latest victims (husband-and-wife truck drivers with spotless records and Pentagon clearances) were finally released after 75 days in jail awaiting trial — for baking soda that tested "positive" three times by Arkansas troopers (but, eventually, "negative" by a state crime lab). Why do police love the test? It costs $2. The truck drivers had to struggle to get their truck back and are still fighting to be re-cleared to drive military explosives.

Panic attack

Ricky Berry and his roommate walked into a CVS store in Richmond, Va., in November to ask if it carried sliced cheese but were told no. Minutes later, all the employees walked to the back of the store, hid in a locked room, and called the police. Berry and pal, and a third customer (with a toothache and desperately needing Orajel), were bewildered by the empty store until a Richmond police officer arrived. After observing that the three customers appeared nonthreatening, he mused along with Berry that "this is how weird, apocalyptic movies start." WRIC-TV reported later that the employee who panicked and called police will "possibly" need retraining.

Questionable judgment

Altitude-obsessed architects in Tokyo said in November that they were moving ahead with proposals for "Next Tokyo 2045" to include a one-mile-high residential complex (twice as tall as the currently highest skyscraper). A spokesperson for principal architects Kohn Pedersen Fox said he realizes that coastal Tokyo, currently in earthquake, typhoon and tsunami zones, would present a climate-change challenge — especially since the building would be on land once reclaimed from Tokyo Bay.

A little too much imbibing

• On Nov. 16, Richard Rusin, 34, was charged with DWI in St. Charles, Ill., after he drove off a street, going airborne, hitting close to the top of one house, rebounding off another, uprooting a tree (sending it onto a roof) and knocking out electricity to the neighborhood when the car clipped a utility pole guy wire. His car landed upside down in a driveway. He was hospitalized.

• Allen Johnson Sr., of Meriden, Conn., was driving a tractor-trailer along Interstate 89 near Williston, Vt., on Nov. 2 at 63 miles per hour, when, State Police said, he apparently tried to stand up in the cab in order to change pants — causing the rig to roll over. Johnson registered .209 blood-alcohol; it was 9:30 a.m.

Least competent criminal

• Gwinnett, Ga., police know exactly who they like for the Nov. 3 armed robbery of an Exxon convenience store: Quaris Holland, 29. That's because the manager told police Holland had been coming by as a customer "every single day" for "six months." He's still at large.

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