So maybe this guy did something and the cops had to come use their time to help him out and then just checked his info as standard procedure before letting him go on his way?
Probably so. I remember when I was in the Navy. They said that if you went AWOL, no one would hunt you down. But if you ever got stopped for anything in the rest of your life, then when they checked your identification they would arrest you and deliver you back to the military.
It's interesting, a few months ago when I was stopped for having expired something or other, the cop actually brought out a computer printout of the ticket. Apparently, the cars in my area now have sattelight links not just for the ID check, but for the entire process now. So they ran the check and printed out the ticket automatically, kinda neat. I gushed over the progress of technology.
I then asked him if he really needed to give me a ticket for such a little thing, that he knows I'll just have corrected before my court date. But he insisted. So naturally, I showed up with my new inspection sticker to court and the Judge waived my ticket.