“What should I fix for dinner? Why is that woman yapping on her cell phone in the #1 lane? Can I get to the dry cleaners before it closes, and why doesn’t anyone wipe off the equipment when they are finished?” all pin balling through your brain at the same time, a frenetic free for all. No wonder I didn’t spot that cop surreptitiously positioning himself at my six, then the Christmas tree lights go on ,”Oh, Crap!!”.
Is there a more stressful time for most folks? Maybe an IRS audit notice in the mail, but other than that, this really sucks.
From time to time I look at YouTube videos of shitshow attorneys and so-called experts advising you on what to do when this happens. Sadly many that I have seen will get you a nice police car ride, with hands cuffed behind you, to your local magistrate with your car getting towed to car jail. Big on civil rights but lacking in common sense, the essential element to conflicts with the police is usually missing. But no worries, with this handy-dandy self-help guide, in just a few minutes you too can avoid an intimate relationship with your local bail bondsman and get home before the wife with plenty of time to update your Ashley Madison profile.
Before class begins, some housekeeping; as with most power dynamics, one party is always at a disadvantage, and that party is you. The very nature of the traffic stop puts you behind the eight ball. What you say or do within the next few moments decide whether you get to leave or not. Your demeanor will also go a long way in determining whether you get ticketed or not, so really, you have more power than you thought.
Another factor; chances are you got pulled over by a relatively new officer. They are the ones that incorrectly think that ticket quotas somehow translates into proficiency or year-end glowing eval’s. Still new at this, his people skills may not be the best. Lacking in experience as a basis for evaluating general behavior, he may see that furtive nervous gesture you always make as a threat. You don’t want that. His testosterone levels are also peaked out, so any challenges, real or imagined will also complicate things.
You also have no idea what training he has had. Each state mandates a certain level of proficiency in training but each is different, so getting pulled over by the L.A.P.D. may not garner the same result or experience as an officer from Swampville, Alabama.
And that post that I wrote a few weeks backs about the military dropping standards? That goes double for police departments. Long gone are the days where ex-military, those possessing discipline, maturity, life experiences, and good judgement, populated most agencies. Boys are now hired, instead of men. Sure, he can pass the physical performance standards and the psyche eval, but is he stress-tested or able to defuse situations with a calm measured presence? We will find out.
And don’t think for a minute that he was properly vetted and trained. If he/she is part of a protected group, he/she will get preferential treatment, up to and including passing them through despite not achieving basic proficiency. The California Labor Commissioner’s Office determines quotas within the state hiring process. If they need more women or more minorities, they will be hired accordingly. And they will make it through the police academy, period. The individual departments do have some latitude within the break in period. During my last 3 years in L.A. I ran the field training program in my office. Our probationary period was longer than most. The standard attitude with trainees is this; the state has a lot of money invested in this guy so give him a fair shot, but if problems arise that could not be corrected during break in, he washes out. With protected classes, an extra layer of paper work was involved so I always got those cases. But better to jump through a few hoops now then wait for the inevitable lawsuit to follow when substandard officers hit the streets.
So here is the video that we will work with, it’s pretty good;
Nothing I need to correct but a few clarifications. During car stops never give consent for the officer to search your car or your belongings inside the car, it is a fishing expedition and nothing good (for you) can come of it. Also, roll the window all the way down. Pissing off the officer because he has to shout through the crack and pass documents through a tiny slit because you don’t want to roll the window down will only result in him definitely ticketing you and maybe doing a walk around inspection of your car for other violations.
If you are being questioned on the streets by a cop and it has to do with a prior crime that you witnessed, help him out, you are doing your civic duty as a good citizen. If the query starts to focus on you, it’s time to button it up. You will know this when it happens.
If you are at a protest or demonstration and the police tell you to move, do it. They will give you the reason, like you are blocking the street or the sidewalk. Most organized demonstrations are limited to certain areas, it is more for the protester’s safety. But when it spills out into the street or freeway, now we got problems.
If mistreated you don’t need a lawyer to file a complaint. Even if something looks fishy, call the desk sergeant and ask him if this is standard procedure. For the bad apples out there, the citizen complaint is usually the first step in recognizing the impropriety. Complaints will get management to focus on this guy. Nowadays with body-cams all contacts are videotaped anyway but if something happens that makes you uneasy, don’t assume that his body-cam is turned on or that he will not erase it later. If you want to audio tape your contact, no by-the-book good cop will ever object.
A good unique story is always helpful. Offering money or flashing your boobs is never a good idea–OK maybe the second one is alright–but showing genuine contrition and a having good attitude is the quickest way to getting off with a warning.