Interaction with the police

This was originally intended to be a response to one of the comments in this post but I decided it was straying far enough and was getting large enough that it deserved it’s own post.

I have had numerous people tell me how obnoxious the police are and how egotistic, etc., etc. But my experience has been completely the opposite. I’ve been stopped numerous times for minor traffic violations and had several interactions when I was involved in an accident (both my fault and not my fault). On each and every occasion I thought I was treated fairly. Only on one occasion did I think maybe the officer had been having a “bad day” and was a bit on the grumpy side. I have always chalked up my difference in experience from that reported by others to be because I have had my interactions in Washington and Idaho as opposed to places like New Jersey or Chicago (where the horror stories came from). And that I always let the police do the talking and I listened in a polite manner. My attitude was always, in essence, “You’re right. I screwed up. I’m sorry.”, “I screwed up? I’m sorry, what did I do?” or “I’ve got problems here, can you help me?” Even when carrying concealed (and I gave them my permit in addition to my drivers license), the back of the van full of guns, ammo, targets, and explosive components (I also have a license to manufacture high explosives) the police have been professional and treated me with respect–as I did them.

Because I have no complaints about any of the police I have dealt with I am somewhat suspicious of Fish Or Man’s experience. On one hand we can say, “He didn’t break any laws therefore he doesn’t deserve what he is getting.” But on the other hand good policemen have fantastic intuition which is undoubtedly fed in part by behavioral clues from the people they interact with. If you are “sending up flares” that scream for attention to the police officer it is hard to for me to criticize the officer for giving you “extra attention”.

The next few days will determine where I stand on this particular interaction.

5 thoughts on “Interaction with the police

  1. I’ll have to add a bit to your “good policemen have fantastic intuition” in your post. While this statement is true, I don’t believe that Fish or Man’s experience was with a “good” policeman. His explanation of the incident seems fairly straighforward–he didn’t bend over and take it up the exhaust pipe like the officer wanted him to–he dared to disagree.

    Many of the police that I’ve met/interacted with are like this: they realize that they are in a nearly unimpeachable position, and they enjoy the power over others that their position gives them. Their tone is disrespectful and scornful; it seems they are trying to pick a fight. (I don’t think you or I should have to put up with that from anyone, much less from a public SERVANT.)

    When a “citizen” dares disagree with the officer, they come unglued, and the incident escalates.

    Policemen (like any human in a position of authority) are not infallable, but many times they think they are. They will go to great lengths to put the offending peon in his place, whatever it takes, even if it means inventing charges.

    I have the utmost respect for the good policemen. Unfortunately, they are slowly being replaced by arrogant jerks with no respect for the rights of their fellow man or even a knowledge of what those rights are.

    Flame away…

  2. No flames. I’ve heard similar stories from many people. But my experience with a sample size of about a twenty is completely different. Even when the neighbors were complaining about fifty or sixty people with rifles shooting at explosives on my Dad’s property under my direction the Sheriff and deputy were friendly and just wanted to help resolve the differences in a peaceable manner (which they did–even though the insane neighbor was threating to start shooting at us).

    I think my approach to interaction with the police (and perhaps people in general) is just fundamentally different than most. If I know someone is wrong on something I almost always ask questions to lead them to realization they are wrong other than telling them flat out to their face they are wrong. In Fish Or Man’s situation I would not have told the officer “I don’t need a permit.” I would have said, “I didn’t know I needed one when it was unloaded and in plain sight. I looked it up and I thought I got it right. Did I misunderstand something?” I’ve found people are much more receptive to a change in what they believe to be true if they “discover” it on their own rather than you telling them they don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground. I’ve tried it both ways and the evidence is conclusive. I don’t really understand it, but that is the way it is.

    The police are trained to be “in control” of a situation. For the safety of everyone, preservation of evidence, and numerous other reasons they can’t let the private citizen take control of the course of the interaction. That doesn’t mean the private citizen can’t or shouldn’t try to influence the path, it just means the police officer needs to be in charge of making the decisions of how things go down. If a police officer is a jerk and decides to charge you with “driving while black (or being a gun owner)” you really need to wait until you have a more level playing field before “putting him in his place”. And that level (or at least leveler) playing field is in front of a judge with a designated hitter (your lawyer) at bat for you. In addition to the judge and your lawyer you have “the public”–an audience that can put additional pressure on the jerk police officer via political channels. It’s a slow process, but the outcome almost for certain going to be more favorable than if you escalate the situation on his home turf.

    That (Fish Or Man’s screw up of the encounter) aside I still think there may be good reasons to support him. We need to get as much information as we can about the true nature of the encounter and what, if anything, the prosecutor decides to do about this particular incident. I nearly have my wife talked into the trip to Spokane on Thursday for his first court date and if I am there we will know a lot more about what we are dealing with.

  3. Joe, thank you for your balance in this incident. I saw Fish Or Man’s post via IMAO and Michelle Malkin and had a knee-jerk response in his favor without doing a fact-check. Yes, my main exercise is jumping to conclusions (rolls eyes)!

    *sigh* This is why I personally don’t carry a gun off the range.

    Anyway, I’ll be interested to watch this unfold, and I appreciate another viewpoint.

  4. I’m a scientist (literally, my title at work is Senior Research Scientist II). If you let what you want to be true have any influence over what you know to be true you get into trouble really fast. That doesn’t mean that I don’t do it more often than I care to admit, but I try to work from the facts. I’m planning on gathering my facts on Thursday morning and I’ll report back. Stay tuned, stay calm, keep your powder dry.

  5. “If you let what you want to be true have any influence over what you know to be true you get into trouble really fast.”

    Yup, you’re right! It’s a bad habit I have, and I am trying to break it. I do know where my faults are! 😉

    I’ll check back in Thursday or Friday. Meanwhile, you have a safe and joyous Christmas!

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