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Friday, September 18, 2015

Police Etiquette

Morpheus didn't say this. I have no idea if Mr. Fishburne ever said it or not.
Wondermark points to a Pacific Standard story by Ezekiel Kweku that talks about black people and the police, wherein I found this paragraph:
. . . the tactics I use to avoid being arrested or killed by the police have been instilled too deeply in me for me to forget. It is a carefully calibrated etiquette that feels like a delicate dance, . . . . Answer questions quickly, but not so quickly that you come off as snippy. If you have to move, move deliberately, but not so slowly that you look reluctant to obey or are stalling for time. Speak calmly and conversationally, but be polite and not too familiar. Answer questions, but don’t offer any information you don’t have to. And on it goes, each balance to be carefully struck, each parameter to be tuned in response to changing circumstances.
It struck me as I was reading this that these are the same rules that I follow. It was kind of surprising, because it made me feel just like I do when I am talking to the police. I'm not sure where I got these rules. Did my parents drill them into me? Or is is just part of being respectful, or perhaps 'showing respectfulness'? All I know is that I don't treat an encounter with the police the same as would with any other, non-police person.

OK, that's a post, but now I need a picture, so I go a Googl-ing and I find a very good article by Max Tucker entitled How To Deal With Cops. He covers the same ground from a slightly different perspective.
Part 1: Understanding CopsThe first step in dealing with cops is empathy. Seriously, it sounds like bullshit, but understanding them and relating with their position is critically important if you want them to let you skate on the stupid things you do. 
The 3 Things You MUST Understand About How Cops Think: 
1. Cops’ first and biggest concern is safety: I cannot over-emphasize this: The job of a police officer puts him in potentially dangerous situations every day, so everything he does starts with ensuring his personal safety. I’ve known and been friends with so many cops and all of them say the same thing: You’re always on guard because you never know what you’re walking into, and mistakes can get you killed. Every single cop knows other cops who have died in the line of duty. When an officer comes up to a car he’s pulled over or knocks on the door of a home that has reported a domestic disturbance, he has no idea who he’s going to be dealing with. You may understand that you are a perfectly nice, non-threatening person, but he doesn’t know that–he’s thinking about the guy who graduated with him at the police academy and got gunned down by a tweaker on a routine traffic stop last week. This concept—the primacy of personal safety—is drilled into them from the beginning of training onward, so understand that when a cop walks up to you he is–at the very minimum–suspicious and wary.
That is why the first minute of your interaction with a police officer—especially during a traffic stop or potentially dangerous situation–is so crucial. In this small window it is imperative you display the fact that you’re not a threat to him. This can mean hands up and open, a nice calm demeanor, a submissive tone, etc. Your specific actions depend on the situation, but everything you do upon initial contact with a cop should be about displaying the fact that you are not a threat. If you do that right, you will put yourself in a great position with the cop who has your immediate fate in his hands.

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