Monday, December 15, 2014

WHEN CONFRONTED BY AN OFFICER .....

This will be a short piece for the blog because it basically deals with common sense.

Apparently, there are citizens who are not aware of how to act when a police officer approaches you.  Perhaps these people were not taught how to have respect for law enforcement.  Perhaps they don't think of how law enforcement will react if the orders they give to a person are met with something other than what they said to do.

I speak with experience on this matter.  I wrote about it in this blog back in the year 2010.  The entry can be found at http://wm-clark.blogspot.com/2010/11/sweeney-and-me-part-2.html where all the details of why, how and when are explained.  I am not going to take the time here to rewrite all the details.  My purpose here is to explain what my own experience taught me.

I was raised to have respect for the law.  For the police who are around to keep the peace, to protect and to serve.  I was taught to have respect for the judicial system that was set up by a little document called The Constitution of the United States as well as respect for the state constitutions.  These documents are designed to keep order in society and to be sure that justice is served in a fair and meaningful way.  If there is a question of whether something is unjust, then we make available an appeals system that goes all the way from the local level to the federal level because sometimes injustices do happen and there needs to be a way to correct these injustices.

It was that respect for the law and for police that helped me decide how to react when the officer pulled me over that night.

When I was pulled over, I decided to get out of the car to go talk to the officer in order to explain what had happened, because I had been caught doing something illegal.  I stepped out of the car and the next thing I knew was that I was looking at a police officer, crouched down behind his open door with his gun drawn and pointing straight at me.  The next thing I heard was the officer yelling and the words he yelled were something like this:  "STOP!  PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR!  TURN SLOWLY, FACE THE CAR AND PUT YOUR HANDS ON TOP OF THE CAR!"

Okay.  So this is apparently decision time.  There were several choices I could make.so let's review these choices and try to figure out what the outcome may or may not be.

Choice number one:  I could have put my hands up, but instead of turning and placing my hands on top of the car, I could continue to face the officer and start to talk to him about how he was over reacting and that this wasn't necessary. and continue to argue with him.  My guess is that he would slowly reach in his car and call for back up, then either wait for other officers to arrive, or to act on his own.  Either way the result would be that I would be wrestled to the ground and cuffed and the officer would not be too happy with me.

Choice number two:  About the same as number one except I don't even put up my hands.  I just stand there waving my arms at him and arguing.  The arguing would intensify because he would continue to order me in an attempt to keep himself safe.  No doubt he would wait for the back up to arrive in this case and I would have two or three cops hitting me to take me down.

Choice number three:  The same as above plus I possibly stick my hand in my pants, or turn around facing away from the officer while I continue to have a shouting match with him.  Same result if I am lucky, or he could assume that I have a weapon and possibly fire a round at me if I turn back around quickly because for all he knows, I could be grabbing a weapon.

Choice number four:  I could leave my hands down, continue talking, and walk towards the officer like I had nothing to fear.  I can almost guarantee that the officer would do what he needs to do to protect himself, which could including firing a shot at me.

Choice number five:  Either run or get back in the car and drive off.  Either way I would have many more policemen to deal with other than just the one and the outcome would not be good for me.  I would eventually brought down, dragged out of the car, and the police would do whatever they thought they needed to do to get me in a safe position for them.  I could be beaten, dragged on the ground, or possible shot depending upon the movements I meake.

Choice number six:  I could keep my mouth shut.  Raise my hands, turn slowly to face the car and place my hands on top of the car without opening my mouth one bit, just as the officer ordered.  This was the choice I made.  The result?  The officer holstered his gun, walked over to me and frisked me to be sure I wasn't armed.  Then he allowed me to turn around, keeping my hands in full sight during the whole time and he told me what he thought was going on and allowed me to answer his questions.  I wasn't thrown down.  I wasn't beat.  I wasn't shot.  WHY?  Because at this time the officer knew he was not in danger.  I had allowed him to establish that I wasn't armed.  He didn't have to have fellow officers arrive to help get me under control.

Common sense.  Do what the police tell you to do.  Don't argue, don't make movements that he isn't expecting.  Don't come at him in a threatening manner.  Let him do his job and the details can be sorted out later and both of you will be calmer when talking about the event that led to his stopping you.

Respect the police.  They aren't out looking for citizens to shoot or to have to get physical with.  They don't WANT to fight you, or wrestle with you and they certainly do not want to shoot you.  They want to protect society as well as themselves.

Now I know that people of races other than myself, will say I don't understand what it is like to be black or hispanic and have the police force hassle you all the time because of racial profiling or whatever.  Maybe I don't.  I can imagine that it could get very tiresome to be stopped and questioned because they see things from a certain perspective.

Have I ever been stopped for no reason other than the way I looked?  You bet I have.  My friend Larry drove an old beat up Chevelle when we were young.   One night we were driving in Kansas on our way to a friends house.  Now over in Kansas there are a few really upscale neighborhoods.  One of these small "towns" is called Leawood.  Leawood is very upscale, very rich.  This particular night Larry and myself decided that the shortest route to where we were going happened to be through the heart of Leawood.  We had not driven more than a few blocks when a Leawood policeman pulled us over.

Had we broke the law?  No.  We weren't speeding, we had not run a stop sign, we had done absolutely nothing to be pulled over for except for three things.  One:  we had Missouri tags on Larry's car.  TWO:  Larry's car looked rather rough, as there would be no cars like THAT in Leawood. And Three:  we were young.  Those were the reasons we were pulled over that night.

The officer came to the car and asked for ID from both of us and we complied.  We did not protest or talk back or anything.  We did as we were requested to do.  He ran a check on the car and both of us.  Nothing was to be found in the police data base.  After taking about a half hour to check us out, he came back to the car and handed us our ID's back.  He asked us what we were doing driving on this street.  We told him we were on our way elsewhere and this was shortest route.

He thought about that a second, then said okay ... you can go, but go straight to where you said you were going, and ... this is the kicker ... DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH LEAWOOD AGAIN .... It would have been real easy to spout off at that policeman at that point.  Did he not know what country we were in?  Did he not know that I can go anywhere I damn well want to?  Did he not just check us out and discovered that we were not trouble makers and no one was looking for us?  Did he not know that even while driving through precious Leawood, we had not once broken a traffic law?  BUT, we kept our mouths shut and drove on to where we were going.  (for some of you people who don't understand why I have a sour taste for Kansas, this is but one reason).

Bottom line of this entry.  Respect the police.  Do what you are told.  Do not mouth off at the police.  Again, do as you are told and I can promise you that you won't get shot.  You won't be beat.  You won't get wrestled to the ground by three or four officers.  Things will go a LOT smoother and perhaps, if you do this, the police in your neighborhood will get to recognize you and not "profile" you and hassle you for what you see as not a good reason.

Just something to think about from lessons I have learned during my life.

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