dealing with law enforcement

What to Do When You Get Pulled Over by the Police

In This, That, and The Other by Contributor

by Scott G

dealing with law enforcement

DISCLAIMER: I am not an attorney (I’m not a liar), so what I’m telling you is based on my best understanding of the law and experience. For legal advice, you must see an attorney (although they don’t always know what they’re talking about – you may need a second opinion).

Speaking as a former law enforcement officer, the one thing we are always on guard against is for anyone armed with anything that can be used as a weapon, be it a knife, blunt instrument or a firearm. That said, without question, no person, let alone a law enforcement officer has anything to fear from an armed, responsible, person.

The mindset of a law enforcement officer is that anyone, not a law enforcement officer or his/her spouse or personal friend is a potential threat. The reason for this is that a law enforcement officer has a target on his body. Anyone, no matter how seemingly innocent, can snap and turn on you. A couple weeks ago, in Portland, CT, two boys ages 7 and 11 tried to carjack and rob a woman at gunpoint. In September, in D.C., a group of boys ages 7-14 were panhandling and when a man said go away, one boy pulled a gun and fired it at the victim. During August, in Abilene, TX, a 91-year-old man was convicted of armed robbery.

I could go on and on, but the point is that in the eyes of a law enforcement officer anyone not in a uniform is a potential aggressor. A cop looks at everyone the same way, looking for any signs that fit certain profiles. Cops are big on body language and the better ones also listen to their gut. A potential suspect does subtle and not so subtle things that send up alarm signals. Things like constantly looking around in a certain manner or their way of dressing.

So many people (whining liberals specifically) scream that LEO’s only profile certain races. This is largely a pile of male bovine fecal matter (I don’t swear, so figure it out). Most cops are not racists, they simply hate criminals. I once had a member of a minority race (not black) accuse me of being prejudiced. I told him, “That’s not true. I hate everybody.” The fact of the matter is that LEO’s target people who have a propensity to commit crime. It doesn’t matter the race of the person, it only matters if the suspect fits a certain profile that in the experience of the LEO, falls within a certain criminal profile.

LEO’s know that a legally armed citizen (LAC) doesn’t wear his pants with the crotch dragging on the ground. His hat isn’t on sideways and his underwear doesn’t show. The LAC doesn’t keep his weapon stuffed behind his waistband but in a good holster. The vast majority of felons simply do not use a holster. Studies have shown that LAC’s use the same types of holsters as a LEO. Also, LAC’s usually wear the same style clothes and accessories as cops. Also, LEO’s know that the vast majority of LAC’s are pro-law enforcement and would come to their aid in a heartbeat.

A person illegally carrying a weapon will always give off obvious and subtle clues in the presence of a cop. Things that a law enforcement officer are looking for are gang-style clothing, aggression, challenging and belligerent behavior, looking away or avoiding the LEO altogether. The suspect will be evasive in his answers, fidgeting and nervous, has his hands on hips, arms folded, scowling, etc. The LAC usually does not put off these clues. Yeah, they will be anxious, but the majority of people are anxious when stopped by a cop. This is expected. Good behavior or demeanor is an intuitive characteristic. It is highly difficult to fake. You either have it or you don’t.

However, because everyone not in a uniform is a potential threat, even an off-duty LEO, they are often suspected to be an aggressor and proned out until identification can be made. This is also the case even when a LAC has a suspect at gunpoint, has informed the police and is waiting for a law enforcement officer to arrive.

There are a number of things you can do to alleviate the stress on both you and the LEO:

1. Be polite and respectful. Politeness and respect will get you a long way. In fact, sometimes it will get you out of a ticket (at least with me it did). Many criminals get nabbed during a traffic stop because they were an ignoramus toward the LEO.

2. Do not be aggressive or challenging. This will immediately send up red flags in the mind of a law enforcement officer. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, a law enforcement officer believes you did something to warrant being stopped. If you did something wrong, you don’t have to admit to it, but don’t carry on as if you are innocent. If you don’t think you did something wrong, try to politely explain why you didn’t do what you are accused of. If that doesn’t work, take it to court.

3. Answer his questions honestly. If he wants to know what you were doing driving at 2 AM, tell him. Don’t lie because most people are lousy liars and a law enforcement officer will spot this. Do not sit there and argue. The LEO will dig deeper to understand your aggression. Most likely, he will ask you to get out of your car and then search you. This is legal. He also will probably ask to search your car. You don’t have to consent to this search, but then he might call in a K-9 unit to sniff your car. Personally, I would not consent to any search of my vehicle no matter the circumstances. It’s usually a fishing expedition.

Most people who are stopped by LEO’s comply with orders and answer questions willingly.

4. Don’t refuse to sign a ticket or identify yourself. SCOTUS has opined that while you are not required to carry identification, you are required to ID yourself. If you lie about it, that’s a crime and at the least, you will be detained until your true identity is verified. More often than not, you will be arrested and jailed.

5. Don’t act like a lawyer. LEO’s have a very low opinion of lawyers. One of my favorite jokes is:

What’s the difference between a lawyer and a catfish?

One’s a scum sucking, bottom feeding scavenger and the other one’s a fish.

Don’t start spouting the law even if you are a lawyer. It will not get you anywhere. It will irritate the LEO and guarantee you at least a ticket and probably a deeper check into your background. Not all LEO’s are fully in tune with the law, but most are. If you come up against one like I was, he will know the law forwards and backward.

Quite often, even if he’s wrong and it’s something minor, simply agree with him then take it up with his supervisor and chain of command at a later time.

Matt. 5:25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.

6. No sudden moves. Don’t get out of your car. Stay put. Don’t reach under your seat and don’t open your glove box. If you are armed, tell the LEO immediately. Some states require you to immediately notify a law enforcement officer if you are packing. Know the laws of your state. Personally, I’d do it no matter what. A criminal will not do this. If you are stopped while driving, keep your hands on the steering wheel.

When reaching for your wallet, if your weapon is on your hip, let him know where it is and that you are getting out your wallet. He may stop you, he may not. It depends on the LEO. Some of them will ask to see your weapon and verify that it’s not stolen. Usually, only a rookie who doesn’t know any better will do this.

7. Follow all commands. Simply put, do what you’re told. A law enforcement officer doesn’t want to hurt you or for you to get hurt. If you argue or hesitate, you are begging for trouble.

Doing the above things will demonstrate to the LEO that you are cooperative and are not a threat. Remember, a law enforcement officers main goal is to go home in the same condition in which he went to work.

For more information, refer here: http://www.policeone.com/police-products/firearms/articles/2144601-Dealing-with-citizens-legally-carrying-a-concealed-weapon/ and http://www.legallyarmed.com/.

Now, on to if the worst happens.

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an incident involving the use of deadly force, be prepared to be treated with suspicion unless it is obvious that you had no other choice but to defend yourself. This brings up the issue of whether or not you should talk to the police or invoke your rights. Simply put, it depends on the circumstances surrounding the incident.

If you are forced into shooting someone, I’m assuming that you are justified in your use of force (UOF). In our society, UOF must be reasonable based on the totality of the circumstances. I’m a pretty big dude. At 6’1” and well over 200 pounds, I would not be justified in shooting an unarmed assailant who was 5’8” and 160 pounds. However, a 5’6”, 130-pound woman would be justified in shooting me. Also, it depends on the law of your particular state.

Some bleeding heart states require you to retreat if possible from an aggressor, even in your own home. Some laws allow you to use deadly force in your own home only if the person is armed or otherwise able to harm you. My favorite states are those with the “Castle Doctrine.” In these states, you have no duty to retreat if you are in a place you are legally permitted to be.

So, if you do shoot someone and you decide to talk to the police, remember this one thing: tell the police that you shot to stop the suspect. You never, ever tell them that you shot to kill. In the eyes of most pshrinkologists, this makes you a dangerous, unstable person. You tell the police that you stopped shooting when your attacker was no longer a threat. This is nothing more than legal mumbo jumbo, but it is very important mumbo jumbo. It will keep you out of court.

Tell the officers that because of the threat, you were in fear of your life or the life of another person. Explain why you were in fear of your life, i.e., “It was dark; I didn’t know the person; my family was in the other room; he kept advancing on me,” etc. Let them know if you warned the suspect or if you attempted to retreat. Tell them everything. Do not lie. A law enforcement officer can smell a lie a mile away.

Be able to articulate the threat that made you feel that you had no other recourse but to use deadly force. If the suspect had something in his hand that made you believe it was capable of being used as a weapon, be able to describe it and why you thought it was a weapon. I.E., it was a shiny object that appeared to be a knife or a pipe, or a gun, etc.

Whatever you do, do not disturb the crime scene. Don’t move the body or remove anything from the room. The detectives are very, very good at reading a crime scene. A homicide detective is usually very experienced and if something is out of place, he will eventually discover it. If your story doesn’t match the scene, it will eventually be discovered. Maybe not right away, but sooner or later and you will be put to the Inquisition.

As to whether or not you should invoke your rights that depends on the circumstances. By law, if a law enforcement officer believes that you have committed a criminal act, he must advise you of your Constitutional rights. When you are being questioned after a shooting, the LEO will be asking questions to determine what happened. At this point, he is not required to advise you of your rights, but if you say something obviously incriminating, then he should read you your rights. There are some exceptions to this and I don’t know all of the most recent rulings.

Remember, cops are devious when it comes to finding out the truth. After a shooting, you will probably be interviewed two or three times even if you aren’t suspected of doing anything wrong. If a law enforcement officer does suspect you of lying, his questioning will become sharper and certain questions will be rephrased and repeated to see if your story changes. This is a tactic used in court and interrogations. If this happens, you’re in for a long night.

My personal advice is if you think you may have done something wrong, invoke your rights and talk to an attorney. If it’s obvious that your shooting was righteous, then talk away, but with great feelings of remorse. While sadly shaking your head, make sure to express regret and that you were forced into defending yourself. Possibly ask for referrals for counseling and most importantly, do not show the satisfaction of knowing that you defended you and yours from the devil. You can do that later with your close friends.

I’m sure I haven’t covered everything, but you get the gist.

Remember, generally, local law enforcement is on your side. Most LEO’s are on the conservative side and believe in the 2nd Amendment. Most of them know that LAC’s are the good guys. However, there are bad apples in every barrel and there are exceptions to every rule. But as a general rule, the vast majority of LEO’s are honest and won’t screw you over. As for the feds…well, enough said.

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