I’m a cop. I’ve worn a badge of one sort or another for 35+ years. I started out in ODs, then progressed to BDUs and even “Chocolate Chips” for the desert. I was an MP. Now I wear blue. I’m just like you; well, maybe not, but I have good days and bad days and kids and ex-wive(s). I have bills and I want stuff and I can’t wait for the next episode of _____. In general I want to be left alone; but I also have bosses who missed that day of leadership class, so they send me out with a check list of what they want from me.
I’m generally an easy-to-get-along-with guy; but I wasn’t always (more on that in a minute). If you give me half an ounce of courtesy (about the same amount you give to the cashier in McDonalds so they won’t mess up your order), and just a tiny bit of respect (like the kind you give your boss when he tells you that project is due in the morning), then we’ll get along fine–most of the time.
It’s possible I just had a fight with my Ex because the post office didn’t deliver the check on a Sunday, or my boss said everyone else wrote 100 tickets last month and I only wrote six warnings, or maybe 7-11 was all out of French Vanilla creamer. Yes, I can be an ASS, but generally I’m not, not at least unless I’m especially requested to be one. Maybe your radio was too loud and you didn’t hear my siren, maybe you were watching the hot chick in the red Corvette and you didn’t see my lights, or maybe you just wanted to find a safe place to pull over and you didn’t stop for 1/2 a mile. All I know when I finally get to you is, I tried to stop you back there. I actually DO think about a safe place to stop before I turn on the lights. When you don’t stop “there” I wonder why. I wonder if you were trying to get away, then I wonder why, then I wonder if my boss is going to make me spend the rest of the day explaining why I had a “pursuit” that wasn’t really a pursuit. I wonder if there’s something in the car or if you are wanted and how far you’ll go (including shooting me) to not go to jail. Once it reaches that point, I almost never think it’s because you were late to work and weren’t paying attention. So yeah, I might be an ass, but all those years wearing a badge has taught me this: being an ass is only fun for a short time, and it’s never fun explaining it to a boss later. So please don’t invite me to be an ass and maybe, just maybe, we’ll part ways without too much heartburn.
Screaming almost never helps. Ask an ER doc how long or how much attention he gives a screaming patient versus how much time he spends with a patient that can explain what hurts through the pain WITHOUT screaming. Cops are the same way. The ER docs can order meds to knock you out, but the cops either take the screaming (almost never), start yelling for you to shut up (wonderful: TWO people screaming), maybe walk away (how’s that solve your problem?), OR pull out the cuffs (well, that’s one way to solve something). So even if I’m in full ASS mode, screaming at me isn’t the answer; I assure you I have more friends on speed dial than you do.
Honestly, talking to me like I’m the neighbor from down the street that you’ve seen as you drive by–but never met–is probably the best answer. Sure, make your point, let me know what the problem is, maybe even give me some solutions that you think would work; but then let me do my job. You may not like it; but you brought the GOVERNMENT into your life, so you’re stuck with us until we leave (there’s a clue: until we leave). Want to keep us interfering in your world, keep telling us we can’t.
You absolutely don’t have to talk to the police. Most of the time that may even be a good thing; but there will be times when answering a few simple questions (truthfully) will make both of our lives easier. At the very least, giving me your name, DOB, address and phone number without a bunch of BS about why you don’t have to will get me started in a calm, easy-to-get-along-with mode. Yep, you have the right to an attorney IF you’re being questioned AS A SUSPECT. I’ve been playing this game long enough, I’ll even tell you when you don’t have to talk to me. I can recite MIRANDA backwards, (wanna hear it?), and I also know what happens if I don’t tell you your rights (trust me). So answering a few questions in a calm demeanor will keep us both friendly, even if neither one of us is really calm OR friendly.
Life isn’t fair and the speeding ticket that you forgot to pay or go to court for last year MAY get you arrested; but arguing with me about it almost certainly WILL introduce you to the “jewelry of justice” (handcuffs). The flip side is I’m the guy you want when your neighbor is throwing dildos and used condoms on your lawn because you wouldn’t go out with him. I’m the guy who takes real offense when that same guy progresses to shooting out your window with a pellet gun, then moves on to throwing an axe at your house (true story). I’m also the guy who will low crawl through a sewer pipe to search for your toddler who was “just there” when you “only turned around for a minute”. I’m also the guy that will sit on the side of the road and hug you (maybe even cry with you) when the neighbors call to tell you your dog was just killed by a tractor trailer and you just want to walk out into the middle of the highway–full of rush hour traffic–to pick up the remains.
So let’s take a second and talk about a “worse case” situation. What do you do when you’ve had to use deadly force, or even just threaten deadly force by displaying a gun? Your lawyer will tell you to STFU. If he says that, get another lawyer. Yes, talk to your lawyer, explain the whole thing to him; but while you’re doing that, crucial evidence may be washed away NEVER to be found again. Sure, don’t tell me you did it because the “bitch deserved it” (yep heard that one too); but you might want to mention she was speeding right at you and even forced you to scuff a car with your shoes as you jumped out of the way, (true story that we would have never known if the “shooter” waited for his attorney).
There are two types of reactions to surviving a deadly force event. By a huge factor, most people WANT to talk. They want to talk so much they tell everybody, including the medics and nurses and patients in the next bed. Cops listen, they listen for changes in the story. They listen to the details. They note the discrepancies. They let you talk without asking AND it’s all admissible. THAT’S what your lawyer meant by STFU. For heaven’s sake you’re in the hospital; at least try to guess what color thong the nurse is wearing under her scrubs. The smaller group of people won’t say a thing after such an incident. Maybe they are scared. Maybe they think they were wrong. Maybe Maybe Maybe. But a guy that won’t even give me his name and DOB ends up making me work harder for that, and then I’m NOT looking for the evidence that just might be the key to getting him home that night instead of playing “don’t drop the soap” in the detention center shower, so who is that helping? You’re smart folks (after all you’re reading this blog), you know you made the right decision to carry a gun to defend yourself, AND you know you made the right decision when it was time to use the gun. Now be smart when dealing with the police.
Chances are you’re smarter than the officer; not me, but I occasionally get a couple of days off. So be smart enough not to let him know that you are smarter (my wife tells me people don’t like it when I make them feel stupid–even if they are stupid). Talk to him in words and tones he understands AND that a jury will understand. If he’s being an ASS don’t tell him so, as that’s almost never a good idea; but “talk him out of being such and ASS” by being calm. It may take a bit, it may even be work; but in the end ASSes look like ASSes and the calm mannered guys look, well, they look calm.
(To Be Continued…)