I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me


Washington Post:
(I hope the mods will forgive posting an op-ed)

I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me.

A teenager is fatally shot by a police officer; the police are accused of being bloodthirsty, trigger-happy murderers; riots erupt. This, we are led to believe, is the way of things in America.
It is also a terrible calumny; cops are not murderers. No officer goes out in the field wishing to shoot anyone, armed or unarmed. And while they’re unlikely to defend it quite as loudly during a time of national angst like this one, people who work in law enforcement know they are legally vested with the authority to detain suspects — an authority that must sometimes be enforced. Regardless of what happened with Mike Brown, in the overwhelming majority of cases it is not the cops, but the people they stop, who can prevent detentions from turning into tragedies.


Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?


I know it is scary for people to be stopped by cops. I also understand the anger and frustration if people believe they have been stopped unjustly or without a reason. I am aware that corrupt and bully cops exist. When it comes to police misconduct, I side with the ACLU: Having worked as an internal affairs investigator, I know that some officers engage in unprofessional and arrogant behavior; sometimes they behave like criminals themselves. I also believe every cop should use a body camera to record interactions with the community at all times. Every police car should have a video recorder. (This will prevent a situation like Mike Brown’s shooting, about which conflicting and self-serving statements allow people to believe what they want.) And you don’t have to submit to an illegal stop or search. You can refuse consent to search your car or home if there’s no warrant (though a pat-down is still allowed if there is cause for suspicion). Always ask the officer whether you are under detention or are free to leave. Unless the officer has a legal basis to stop and search you, he or she must let you go. Finally, cops are legally prohibited from using excessive force: The moment a suspect submits and stops resisting, the officers must cease use of force.

Seems to me his advice about going along quietly conflicts with asserting your rights not to submit to searches &c which will only earn a conviction for contempt of cop.


And it should be added that when dealing with police you have the right to remain silent and do not have to consent to a search. “I’m sorry officer, I have nothing to say” is still your best response. Be calm and polite but never volunteer information.

  • You have the right to remain silent. If you wish to exercise that right, say so out loud.- ACLU


Seems to me that he stated that you don’t have to submit to a search.

His point is to simply be polite. Don’t scream. Don’t yell. Don’t call him names. Is it really that hard?


We have courts in which to redress our grievances. When confronted by an armed man, it is generally best to comply - whether that person be robber or police officer. After all, it is your life that hangs in the balance.


Not when the judge openly tells the court that the officer’s word will be accepted over that of others.

The opportunity for abuse is there, we should be recording our police and their interactions with the public more.


This advice would obviate the need for remembering other truisms, like:

  1. Never point a weapon at a police officer; it could be the last thing you ever do.

  2. All cops carry guns, many carry two. Never assume you can take away his service weapon without consequences.

Last year we had an epidemic of stupid criminals in our town. Four of them paid with their lives for not learning these basic lessons. Another was shot to death by a civilian robbery victim and the robber’s accomplice was charged with felony murder.


Yes and no. If you are repeatedly stopped I’m sure you reach a frustration/anger level that makes it hard not to respond negatively, which probably leads to a feedback loop with cops who feel constantly disrespected and threatened.

Years ago I had to walk from my bus stop thru a residential neighborhood to my job (I work overnights). I was repeatedly stopped asked for ID and asked what I was doing in the neighborhood late at night. The cops ran my ID thru their computer (or whatever) to
I was polite but it got old pretty quick. One time a cop asked to search my backpack & I said no, he was already making me late for work and he let it go.
I’m white & in my 40s at the time.but I’m pretty sure my experience would have been different if I had been 20 and black.

As for not submitting to a search, cops are trained to deceive you into giving up your rights. Instead of directly answering, “Am I under arrest?” a standard reply is “Do you want to be?” or “You will be if you don’t cooperate.”
If you refuse a search of your vehicle they will tell you, “We’ll have to wait until we get a K-9 out here.”


What? Where? Who? That judge is not the final judge, right? Why have a system of courts then?

If you want to eliminate the opportunity for abuse, you must eliminate the police. They are already so heavily regulated that there is rising fear of doing anything at all.

Look, we are talking of a confrontation between a thug and a police officer who has had innumerable opportunities - even the authority - to kill someone, and did not.

Point: Since the vast majority of young black me are killed by other young black men, where’s the outrage over that? (Crickets). It is de facto racism for an individual, or a community to object only when a young black man is killed by a non-black.


None of this which you have related is the product of a reasonable suspicion that you were involved in a crime. Not just crime, but a particular, articulable crime and that you, as an individual, were somehow involved. This is the legal standard for a stop.

Lacking reasonable suspicion, this should not have occurred to you. Voluntary stops are a completely different thing. Did you complain to those who were in charge? The Sergeant? Lieutenant/Commander? Chief? The city council? Mayor?

Keep in mind that while the job of law enforcement is absolutely necessary, some who seek this position of power and authority should not have it. Those make the headlines. You are part of the solution when this occurs.

Making policy based on the worst of law enforcement has the effect of hindering the best of law enforcement. We have a responsibility to root out bad officers. If we take no action, we should make no complaint later.

This does nothing to alter how you should behave when challenged or confronted by an officer. He or she stands or falls on their justification - but that is after the fact.


This is an excellent site for learning how to deal with police flexyourrights.org/


I have a Brother in law who is a Police Sargent , and the words above is exactly what he says, if you are aggressive to him, he might be to you,if you are a Nice to him he will be nice back, and help you if he can,


Yeah, this is the best thing to do, most people end up saying too much around police and hang themselves. Its quite easy to see if a person is overly nervous when talking to police, and if they see this, it usually means they have something they do not want the cop to know, remaining cool and calm would reduce the number of arrests by double digits imo, people just have to learn to be calm around police.

Instead of teaching our kids to ‘just do anything a cop tells you’, which is a bit outdated, Id rather teach my kids their constitutional rights when dealing with police, and tell them to make sure they follow that.

However, I do agree keeping calm is the most important thing, and never make jerky sudden movements, remember, initially, the cop does NOT know who you are, if you are wanted, a dangerous killer, or just a normal innocent person. Id say common sense with a calm demeanor, and saying as little as possible is best.


Terrifying for the state of a society when its citizens must do the bidding and whim of the few whose purpose it is to “serve” or be shot or abused.


If you are not a thug who is violating and challenging community authority, then I’m not sure what your point is.

Remember that this entire line of conversation stems from what appears to be a thug on his path to dying, and who acted rashly and found it before expected.


No to all of the above.
As I said I was polite to them, they were polite to me. It was a pain at first & then a real annoyance. It finally stopped after 7-8 times over 3 months.
The first few times I assumed they were responding to calls from residents reporting me. Even if not they could always claim they were. Or that I was walking in the middle of the road (true dat, no sidewalks), or appeared drunk. Police can always manufacture PC while-u-wait.

Why didn’t I complain? I’m lazy? I’m cynical? I have a life, I don’t want to waste my time going thru some BS complaint process over something minor.

OTOH, cynicism can be deadly. I read that in Ferguson with its all-white police force, city council &c the voter turnout in the black community is 12%. If everything is convinced nothing will change, it won’t (it might not anyway but that’s a different matter).


What does being a “thug” entail? being black in America?



I think the reality of it is that short term the police can make your life miserable; it’s best to comply with their directions and if you have an issue with them, you can always take up the matter using the court system.


Assuming you are provided opportunity to say anything.

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