Rather than just posting pieces about my opinions (which by the way I’m shocked that anyone reads), I thought that I would occasionally post a piece with some interesting and useful information. I don’t know how many times people have asked me what they should do should they ever have an encounter with police. Anything from what to do if I’m pulled over by a cop to what should I do if I or a member of my family is arrested. I want to make it clear that the following is my opinion based on my years of experience as a cop. I’m sure that there are active and retired cops who can add some additional tips to this posting or even offer totally different advice on what you should do. With that said, here goes.
In this case, what should I do if I suspect that the person who is trying to pull me over is not really a cop? A scary thought indeed. There are people on the streets who impersonate cops for the purpose of facilitating or committing a crime. Then there are those individuals who impersonate cops because they are ‘buffs’. What are ‘buffs’ you say? Buffs in some cases are just regular people who love cops. Then you have the buffs who are wannabe cops. These are the ones who may impersonate a police officer because they love to play cop. An obviously stupid thing to do, but in my experience they are harmless. However, whether it’s a mutt or a buff, they should be handled in the same manner.
Rule number 1 is don’t floor it and try to get away. It’s dangerous and can result in an accident which can cause serious injury. And if the person trying to pull you over is actually a cop, they’re going to be pretty pissed off once you do pull over. I’m not second guessing the advice given to the young lady by her stepdad in the article, but telling her to speed away is not something I would tell my daughter to do.
Slow down to a safe and reasonable speed. Some mutt who’s impersonating a cop and is trying to get you to pull over is in all likelihood not going to ram you off the road. They don’t want to bring any added attention to themselves, and they are not going to risk damaging and maybe disabling their only method of escape. They could be trying to jack you out of your Benz, so why damage it when they can just follow you, wait till you’re stuck at a red light and jack you there. If in fact it is a uniformed cop in an unmarked car, they will probably pull up beside you so that you can see that it’s really the police. If it’s plain clothes cops, they’re usually not out there working speeders, but they may have a reason for pulling you over. If you’re not pulling over and they are smart, they will probably request the assistance of a ‘marked unit’. Now if it’s a marked unit you’re refusing to pull over for, then you’re a moron.
Get on that cell phone that we all have in today’s day and age and dial 911. A smart 911 operator, and they usually are, will ask you several questions such as, where are you, what road are you on, direction of travel, and the make, model and color of the car that you’re in. They will also ask you to describe the car that is trying to get you to pull over and its occupant(s). Follow their instructions. And please, call 911, don’t waste time by calling someone who can’t be of any help.
If for some reason you don’t have a cell phone and you’re really unsure that it’s the police that’s trying to get you to pull over, look for a gas station or some other well lit area where there are lots of people and pull over there. If the officer is not in uniform or if uniform looks a little fugazy slightly crack open your window and ask to see their identification. Most uniformed police officers are required to also carry their identification cards. If they don’t or won’t, then ask them to request a supervisor to respond. If all else fails and they are trying to gain entry into your vehicle, just lay on the horn.
Whatever you do, don’t get out of your car unless you are certain that they are who they say they are. If for some reason you didn’t heed this advice and you got out of your car, don’t get into theirs unless, once again, you’re certain of who they are.
Contrary to what many people unfortunately believe, cops are not stupid (well most cops). Depending on the situation, they’re going to quickly realize that you may be being cautious due to the fact that you’re unsure of who’s trying to pull you over. A word of caution, don’t try their patience by continuing to drive for twenty miles while calling all of your FB friends seeking their advice. And please, don’t read this post and think you know now how to bust a cop’s cojones. Someone tried that on me once during the middle of the day while I was trying to pull him over in a marked car while in uniform. And then he had the audacity to tell me he didn’t think that I was a cop and that he was being cautious, all the while with a smirk on his face. Well I’m sure that the 8 summonses I banged him with removed all doubts as to the validity of my identity.
The bottom line is to remain calm, don’t panic, and use your head. You want to make smart decisions that are going to ensure your safety while not endangering the public or the cops. In some cases, the cop maybe a little pissed. That’s their problem, you just want to be safe. And in most cases, your failure to immediately pull over, if justified, is not going to always influence that cop’s decision to ticket you for the initial violation. More about what influences a cop’s decision to ticket you or not in a future post.