Tag Archives: ask a cop

Ask A Cop: “Please call me at your earliest convenience”

In my ‘Question of the day cause I ain’t got shit to write about’, Elizabeth writes:

I would like to know what you would suggest doing if you ever find a detective’s business card with a note that says something to the effect of “please call me at your earliest convenience” in your mail box or shoved in your door.

Elizabeth, have you been a naughty girl? The answer is quite obvious, give them a call. There could be a host of reasons why the police are looking to speak with you. They could have simply been conducting a canvass of your block where a serious crime may have been committed. A canvass is a simple investigative tool that detectives use in hopes of locating a witness or an individual with some valuable information that may assist in the investigation. Or it could be that are trying to locate a missing person or a person of interest that you may know or may have known.

Whatever the reason, if it’s pressing that they speak with you in particular, they will be back. And you would really hate it if they knocked on your door during an inconvenient or inappropriate moment, or worse, showed up at your place of employment.

So if you’ve committed no crime, give them a call. If you have, well, call your lawyer. Hey, maybe they just think that you’re a hottie and want to ask you out on a date. Detectives have been known to do that now and then.

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Five Things to Do If You Get Pulled Over

Time for another segment of ‘Question of the day cause I ain’t got shit to write about’. Well I didn’t actually receive a question, but I’m sure that it’s a topic that my 8 subscribers may be interested in reading about.

Those of us who have been pulled over by the police while driving know that feeling of dread and doom that overcomes us upon hearing that siren or seeing the flashing red or blue lights of a police car in our rear view mirrors. For a moment, we hope and think that it’s the other guy who’s getting pulled over. We are in denial that it could be us until we quickly (hopefully) realize that the police car is not attempting to go around us and has taken a position directly behind us.

Here are five things you should do if the flashing red or blue lights are meant for you.

1. Don’t speed or run red lights at the beginning or end of the month. OK, if you got pulled over it’s a little late for this, but still you should know that getting pulled over at the beginning or the end of the month dramatically increases your odds of getting ‘banged’ (for the nerds who are reading this, getting ‘banged’ does not mean getting laid – it’s cop parlance for getting a ticket). As often as police departments may say that cops don’t have ‘ticket quotas’, the reality of the matter is that there is one. You won’t find it in any department manual, it may be unofficial, but trust me when I say it does exist. With that said, you have some cops that will try reach their ‘unoffical’ quota as quickly as possible at the start of the month and get it out of the way. Then you have the cops who procrastinate and wait until the end of the month to get their numbers.

Now I know what some of you may be thinking and that this may be misconstrued. I am not advocating the violation of vehicle and traffic laws during the rest of the month. We should always drive carefully and adhere to rules of the road. All I’m saying is that if you’re in the habit of rolling through stop signs instead of coming to a complete stop, don’t do it at beginning or at the end of the month.

2. Pull over as quickly and as safely as possible. And make sure, if possible, that your vehicle is not impeding the flow of traffic. If you have reason to believe that the individual trying to pull you over is not really a police officer, then I hope that you read my post on police impersonators.

3. Once you have safely pulled over, put the vehicle in ‘park’, roll down your window (especially if it’s tinted) and shut the ignition. Passengers in a vehicle with tinted windows should also roll down their windows. If it’s at night, turn on the interior lights and not just the front seat ones. Interior lights afford the officer better visibility into the vehicle, which can help him see that you’re not reaching under your seat for a weapon or something that could harm him.

4. Place your hands on the steering wheel. Passengers should also ensure that their hands are visible. And no, they don’t need to place them on top of their heads. On their laps would suffice. Remain in the vehicle unless otherwise instructed by the police officer.

5. Remain calm, be respectful and adhere to the police officer’s instructions.

Getting pulled over by the cops can be an extremely stressful situation, for both the motorist and the police officer. The motorist is worried about the cost of the ticket, points on their license, and an increase in their insurance premiums. At the same time, the cop is at a heightened level of alert, concerned about their own safety or that of their partners. Bad guys also drive cars.

Although the majority of car stops are uneventful and transpire without incident, it is still one of the most dangerous actions that police officers conduct everyday. According to data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, traffic incidents have been the top cause of death for police officers for 12th straight year. Not only can a cop be injured or killed by the mutts occupying the car he just pulled over, but he can also be seriously injured or killed by another motorist.

Obviously I can’t guarantee that following these tips will get you out of a ticket should you be pulled over. But speaking from my own experience in conducting hundreds of car stops during my career, a motorist that I pulled over who was concerned about my safety as well as their own and demonstrated such by doing the things that I have listed had a good shot at getting a break. That is if they didn’t have an attitude or tried to hand me their cell phones so that I could speak with their attorneys (yes, this happened) as if in some way that was going to get them out of a ticket. But that’s for my next piece on things not to do if you should get pulled over by the police.

Three Things You Should Know if You’re Ever Arrested

Today I’ll answer another query in my ‘Question of the day cause I ain’t got shit to write about’ series. Seems that people are curious as to what they should do if they or a member of their family is ever arrested. Let me start off by saying that I’m quite aware that individuals of questionable character may stumble across my blog and heed my advice. It’s not intended for them but for ‘decent folk’ who, for whatever reason, may be adding ‘bracelets’ (that’s handcuffs for those among us who are nerds) to their collection of fashion accessories. And by the way, the bad guys already learned this advice early on in ‘Mopery 101’. So here are three things you should know in the event you are ever arrested.
 
#1. Don’t resist the arrest, even if you believe it is unlawful
 
Rule number one is to never resist arrest. Besides the fact that you may get ‘tased’ or ‘maced’ or just have a ton of pain inflicted upon you, all not very pleasant experiences, it’s actually against the law in most states to resist even an unlawful arrest. So it’s better to go along quietly and peacefully and don’t do anything to add more stress to an already stressful situation. It will also work in your benefit not to have that arresting officer pissed off at you. Especially after several hours of processing where you may need to use the bathroom, or need a drink of water, want to make a call (which by the way you’re not entitled to, despite what TV says) or a chocolate bar from the vending machine to ease the hunger pangs. Remember that once you’re arrested, you no longer get to make simple decisions. Someone else decides if and when you can go to the bathroom.
 
#2. Don’t say anything – even if you are innocent

 
Whatever the reason is for being arrested, mistaken identity, false accusation, victim of circumstance or maybe you just went and did something stupid like slashing your ex’s tires, it’s important to keep your mouth shut. Invoke your right to remain silent and no matter what the cops say or what they may promise you, don’t waive that right. Fight that overwhelming impulse that comes over decent people to cooperate and confess their sins.
 
Now that is not to say that you should not give the cops information such as your name, address, date of birth, etc, etc. Refusing to cooperate on that level will only serve to delay the booking process and arraignment. And trust me when I say you want to see a Judge as soon as possible and hopefully make bail.
 
Remember that once you’ve been arrested the police are not there to help you. No matter what they say to you in that regard, their job is to gather evidence and build a strong, solid case against you that will eventually lead to a successful prosecution. And what better evidence is there than a confession or an incriminating statement made by you? The police are certainly not there to defend you.

I remember how frustrating it was for me as a Detective sitting in the ‘box’ with a suspect that I was about to interrogate and hearing them utter the dreadful words,  “I ain’t talking” or “I want a lawyer”. It was particularly frustrating in cases where there was either no or very little incriminating evidence, and eliciting a confession was crucial.

#3. Invoke your right to an attorney

Even if you should choose to cooperate in an effort to ‘clear things up’, as suggested by the police, it is wiser to answer questions with your attorney present. They are the experts and the only individuals in the process who genuinely are looking out for your interest (for a small fortune, of course).

Parents especially should pass this advice on to their teenage children and not let it become one of those things that’s never discussed. I’m not implying that your teenagers are candidates for “America’s Most Wanted” but sometimes teenagers make decisions that are not always wise. That whole peer pressure thing. Most states have laws concerning police questioning of juveniles. Basically, a juvenile cannot be questioned without the parents’ consent and presence. The problem lies in those states where teenagers as young as 16 are treated as adults by the police. Getting arrested at any age can be a traumatic and terrifying experience unless you’re a career scum bag, and it’s even more so for a 16-18 year old. If we can’t always rely on teenagers to make wise decisions in their everyday lives, can we trust them enough to know that it’s not always a wise thing to talk to the police should they ever be arrested? As a father and a former cop, I advised my children on many occasions as to what to do if they were ever arrested. It didn’t matter if they were right or wrong, innocent or guilty. I told them to keep their mouths shut, tell the cop you want your Mom and Dad and a lawyer.

Hopefully you will never have to live through the unpleasant experience of being arrested. But if by some unforeseeable circumstance you are, remember that “you have the right to remain silent”. Please use it.

Police impersonators: what should I do?

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.