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Cops and Traffic Stops

Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts explains to Mark Shea why my advice on traffic stops to clients is almost always the best procedure to follow:  be polite, be business-like and do not argue with the cop.  If there is something wrong  with the stop we can fight it in court.  Cops are like the rest of us, good, bad and indifferent, and most of them, in my experience, respond well to simple politeness.  Actually politeness works well in most areas of life, and should never be confused with weakness.   It costs nothing to be courteous, even in an adversarial situation, and usually pays a dividend. If 35 years of litigation has taught me anything, it has taught me that.

 

 

Yes, Mark, he was likely concerned, even if he didn’t feel threatened.

Mark Shea, in typical form, grabbed onto this story:

Here is the story.  Now, I won’t get into the case itself.  I have no clue what happened.  I’m still old-fashioned enough to believe that we hear from all sides, and seek evidence, before rendering a verdict.  If they investigate and find out he was in the wrong, he should be disciplined.  I’m OK with that.  If he feels he was wrongly suspended, let’s see what happens.  I’m OK with that.  Call me silly and stupid and a white racist Nazi sexist, but I still find comfort in a society that values presumption of innocence, due process, the need for evidence, hearing all sides of a story, and basic justice for all.

No, I’ll touch on Mark’s quips based on something I’ve learned as one of my sons trains for work as a police officer (instead of going to school to be an accountant).  I didn’t know this, but according to the officers who are training him, traffic stops are the most unnerving thing you do.

Why?  Because you have no clue what you’re getting into, that’s why.  Unlike anything else, it is a blank slate.  As the officers training him explained, when you get called to do almost anything else you have an idea what you’re getting into.  Bank robbery?  Domestic troubles?  Guarding the stadium on game day?  Entertaining a birthday party? Terrorist attack?  You know what you’re up against and you prepare accordingly.

But traffic stops are the worst of all worlds.  Often you are on your own, alone, and away from backup.  You have no clue who is in the car or what is happening.  It could be a woman in labor, a teenager with a new license, an elderly man, a drug smuggler, an arms dealer, a fugitive, a serial murderer, or someone looking for pancakes house. It could be a 65 old grandmother with diabetes.  Or it could be a 65 year old grandmother with diabetes who has her 24 year old armed fugitive son in the back seat.  You don’t know.  And you have no way of knowing until you arrive at the side of the car.  That, apparently, is the most unnerving moment of any cop’s day: That point right before you arrive at the side of the car during a traffic stop.  Which is why they have exact procedures for how the cops are to approach the car, all aimed at their safety.  Ultimately, you have only the driver’s cooperation and good will to hope for.

Even then you don’t know, since anything can happen.  Just because a person seems normal, calm, rational, or harmless, doesn’t mean they don’t have a .45 sitting under the seat.  It doesn’t mean that they’re not up to something.  Criminals come in all shapes and sizes and behaviors.  Sometimes they’re not criminals.  Sometimes they’re just people who lose control, just as cops can lose control.  You don’t know.

But guess what?  A funny thing about those cops?  They’re actually human beings.  I realize the Left has done a bang up job with the whole ‘Sanctity of life stops dead when it no longer benefits the Left’ shtick.  But a consistent life ethic means consistency.  It doesn’t just mean ‘Life is beautiful … whenever the Left says so’.  People should, you know, listen to the police officer, and do what he says.  Duh. And that includes not assuming he’s a psychoNazi racist murderer who deserves no respect, who can be ignored in kind, and had best let Greedo shoot first before he responds.

In a sane world of morals, principles, values, truth, common sense, justice, and civility founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic, the person does what my Dad did when he was mistaken for a fugitive years ago: comply with the cops.  Even though they swarmed his car, guns out, yelling for him to keep his hands visible, he decided to go crazy and … do what they said.  Know what happened then?  They checked, found out he was the wrong person, apologized, my Dad said they were just doing their job, he drove on to work, they continued their search, and that was it!  Wow.  It’s like crazy decent and sensible.  Heck, it’s almost respectful!  Thank goodness we’re done with that era.  Can’t have any of that in a Leftist paradise.

So Mark, the answer to your question is yes.  If that officer had any brains, he was worried.  Perhaps he felt threatened.  Perhaps he overreacted.  Real people in the real world get it.  I fear we’ve created a generation of armchair messiahs who can’t help but ponder how others can be so weak and flawed and imperfect.

Oh, and I get why a demographic told daily that their country hates them and wants them dead would be nervous, too.  None of this is to ignore the travesty of the Left’s manipulation and exploitation of the African American community that has no doubt left many blacks in America quite shaken.  It’s just a perspective from a parent who can’t help but wish accounting was in his son’s future, rather than police work in the age of:

 

 

Of even:
Go here to comment.  Now some sage advice as to traffic stops from Chris Rock:  (strong, strong language advisory as to the below video)

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

10 Comments

  1. Chris Rock’s video reminds me of what St. Paul wrote in Romans 13:3b-4:

    Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

    People forget about that wrath part.

  2. Once or twice year, we drive to and from NY, Indiana and Louisiana to visit children and grandchildren.

    Early July 2017, we were returning driving through Ohio. The wife insists on taking turns driving – it’s why I wear OD undies. We’re on an open, straight interstate and she is doing 85 mph. We didn’t see the trooper. The PO was shocked to see a little old lady. I’m trying not to laugh. He wrote “83 mph” on the ticket so he didn’t have to lock her up for reckless driving (over 20 over the limit). It’s why you act politely with the man with a badge and a gun.

  3. I have long thought T.Shaw that Mark’s many posts on torture should be translated into Arabic, voice acted, and played 24-7 in cells holding terrorists. In three days they would be begging to talk or die!

  4. From the CNN link:

    “Police said the situation began when another officer pulled the woman over because she had drifted out of her lane during a turn. He said she nearly caused an accident. The driver would not sign the ticket and said she wanted to speak to a supervisor. On camera, she can be heard refusing to exit the vehicle, or sign the ticket, until a supervisor could arrive on scene.

    That officer reached into the car to open the door and repeatedly told her to step out of the car.

    Police said that the woman tried to close the car door and hit the officer.

    He then reached into the car to pull her out of the vehicle and told her she was under arrest for disorderly conduct.

    The woman screamed, “This is a violation of my rights” and later said, “If you break my arm, we will have a problem.

    When backup arrived, a second officer tried to help pull her out of the vehicle.

    Neither of these officers have been identified.”

  5. My mom is 65.
    I pity the idiot who dismisses her as a threat because she’s a “grandma.” And that was before I learned about some of the standard tactics used by the cartels in the US; after motherly women (preferably with a baby, or at least a baby’s car seat for hiding the drugs or weapons) little old ladies are a favorite.

    ******

    My first thought was roughly:
    Dang. Now they’re never going to do anything about those idiots weaving in and out of their lanes, which means they’ll stick with speeding or claimed cellphone use, only catch drunks at check-points or after the fact, and accidents will go up for the second year since sometime in the 70s.

  6. I grew up in a time and place where even mouthing off to cops had unpleasant repercussions. And in the Detroit area, suburban cops were the most notorious. The cops in Dearborn, Mi. would face plant you if you looked at them the wrong way.That’s one of the reasons why it’s “yes sir, no sir” when I address a cop who pulls me over. I’ve even done while biting my tongue.

  7. We don’t need police officers who behave like ruffians. That having been said, this woman thought she could get out of a ticket through obstreperous and contumacious behavior. Reminds one of cop slapper Zsa Zsa Gabor.

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