Archive for April, 2011

Traffic Stop Etiquette

Posted in Uncategorized on April 27, 2011 by Jay

or, “How not to get a gun pointed at your face!”

As Stephen pointed out here, there are a few basic things to do on a traffic stop when you get pulled over:

  1. If its night, turn on your dome lights.
  2. window down, radio off
  3. hands on the wheel until they come to the window
  4. inform them where your DL and insurance are before you reach for them

I’ll expand on those above first:

1. Turn on your dome light, and don’t complain about all of my bright lights. I’ve got my highbeams on, my spot light pointed in the direction of your vehicle, my take down lights, and the emergency lights (red & blues) on the light bar, in addition to a powerful LED light I shine in the car. I know it can be blinding at first, but if things go well on the initial contact, an officer may elect to turn some of the lights off.

2a. Radio off, cell phone out of sight too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve pulled a vehicle over, their cell phone goes off, and they answer it real quick to say “will call you back, I just got pulled over”. If they are big texters, they’ll continue on their text message conversation while I’m in the middle of the stop. I say out of sight, because it’s easy to be tempted to answer real quick, or just do a scan of that text message.

2b. On windows, the passenger side method of approach is just as accepted these days as driver side approaches on traffic stops. It’s actually kinda funny how many people I’ve scared by tapping on their passenger window to get them to roll it down. The best thing to do is roll down your driver side window, but be mindful you may have to roll down your passenger window as well. This may be a pain if you don’t have electric windows, but we don’t know that until we make contact.

2c. If you have tinted windows, roll down as many windows as possible. I know it’s summer in Texas and it sucks to let all your AC out, but please just do it. My procedure for dark tinted windows I can’t see in, is to stop near the back of the vehicle and tell the driver to roll down a back window and/or place their hands on the dash where I can see them. I’m not trying to be an asshole, I want to get home safely, and I’m sure you’d hate to get a gun pointed at you because you were doing something innocent the officer took for being suspicious.

3. 9 and 3, 2 and 10, 12 and 12, it doesn’t matter. The first thing I’m looking for is hands. That means your hands and your passenger’s hands as well. Don’t tell your passengers to place their hands on the dash, the back of the seat, etc. That tells us you’ve had experience to dealing with us on a not-so-nice level. Instead, have your passengers place their hands in their lap where they are easily seen.

4. Inform, don’t ask. Asking permission to go into the glove box/center console/wallet is a time waster. Saying “Sir/ma’am, I’m reaching in my back left pocket to get my wallet for my ID” is a lot better than “Sir/ma’am, can I reach into my back left pocket to get my wallet?”, cause we have to respond before you can take that action. State what your going to do, wait a second, then do it.

Now, these are my additions:

1. If you’ve got a car load of people, be it family or friends, keep them calm. I pulled over a Honda Civic 4 dr with 4 20-something year olds at 2:30 in the morning as they were coming back from a concert in Houston. One passenger was going beserk while one was starting to giggle, especially after seeing me in my brown polyester pornstar pants and cowboy hat.

2. If your ask to step out of the vehicle, don’t automatically assume you’ve done something wrong or are going to jail. Like in the above stop, I asked her to step out because I didn’t want to have to deal with her friends. Some times if a person hasn’t pulled far enough off of the road, it’s easier to ask them to step out real quick and conduct the stop safely there or make a passenger side approach. A majority of the time if I pull over a family going somewhere, I’ll ask the driver to step out. The driver gets to save face with their family if I chew their ass, and the kiddies don’t have to hear my bad language if I have to be stern. And sometimes, especially if a bad infraction that I’m going to let slide, I’ll say something along the lines of “A Trooper would have you in cuffs and would be taking you to jail right now.” You don’t want your wife/husband or kids to hear that. I really don’t want them to hear that.

3. Don’t ask for a warning. It’s the officer’s discretion whether or not to cite or give a warning, and asking for a warning can ruin that discretion. Most of the time anyway (well, for me), I’ve already decided whether I’m writing a citation or warning before I even get out of the car. I say most of the time, because stuff like expired registration/inspection, expired insurance, etc don’t show up until I actually look at the vehicle.

4a. If you’ve got a CHL and are carrying, as soon as we finish with our introductory spiel, tell us. “I’m a CHL holder, carrying a pistol located (here). My license is located (here).” After that, it’s up to the individual officer as to what they want to do. If it’s on your person, they may ask you to step out and disarm you. If it’s in the vehicle, they may ask you to step out and leave it at that. Some officers say “okay, don’t go for it and we’ll all be fine” and leave it at that. Everyone has their own ‘I got pulled over by an officer while carry and X happened’ story. Every officer does things differently, per what they feel like they have to do to stay safe and what their department says they have to do.

4b. If you’ve got a CHL and don’t tell us, we’ll find out when we run your DL.

The obvious stuff that everyone should be doing already:

1. As soon as you know your getting pulled over, turn on your hazards and slow down. That lets us know that you know so we don’t call out a pursuit when your just really looking for a good spot to stop.

2. Put your vehicle in park. Don’t leave it in drive and just ride the brake. If it’s an automatic, we know when you put it in park because of the back up lights. If it’s a standard, put the parking brake on.

3. Stay in the vehicle unless told otherwise. This mainly applies to the older generations, since they were always told to meet the officer at the back of the vehicle. Getting out of the vehicle right off the bat sends up more than a few red falgs.

4. Don’t try and argue a citation on the side of the road. Once it is written, it’s written. If you don’t agree with it, that’s what we have the court system for. Speeders are common for this.

On the traffic laws:

1. While we can verify insurance through the computer, your still required to have a copy of your insurance card or bond paperwork either on you or in the vehicle. You can have valid insurance put still get a citation or warning for ‘failure to maintain proof of financial responsibility’ because you didn’t have the card or paperwork. Handing me a cellphone with the insurance information pulled up on it doesn’t work either.

2. Your not required to show us your registration reciept. Your registration is the sticker on the windshield.

3. If you’ve got a headlight out, but it works when you turn on your highbeams, you’ve still got a headlight out. Your required by law to turn your highbeams off.

4. Yes your required to display a front license plate, and it is required to be on the front of the car, not slid up on the dash or taped to the windshield. I don’t care whether New Mexico, Oklahoma, or Lousiana doesn’t require it, because your in Texas, with a Texas registered vehicle. If you don’t have a mounting bracket, take it to the dealer and get one installed. If you don’t want to do that, find a way to zip tie on.

So, with all that said, any questions? :D

Freeze Up

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2011 by Jay

With it being Easter weekend, I’ve been running a lot of traffic on the major highways in my county. With pulling people over, comes the lights, sirens, etc. Well,  I noticed some things at first, thought they were just a one off, but thats not ringing true.

About 75% of the time, any time I get behind a car whether I’m pulling them over or trying to get them out of the way, they go into freeze mode. Whatever they were doing when I got behind them, they generally continue to do it for about 10-15 seconds, be it braking, coasting, etc. The funniest are the people who turn on their turn signal then never change lanes.

Then, about half of those drivers go into a denial type phase: “He’s not pulling ME over”. Usually I can tell when they hit this phase because they will change lanes and slow down, like they’ve done nothing wrong.

When I do eventually get them over on the side of the road, some get so nervous they freeze up again. They think they know what questions I’m going to ask, so they try to say everything at once while fumbling for their driver’s license. I can’t tell you how many people get nervous and try to hand me a credit card/debit card, business card, or something other than their DL. If they realize what they are doing, they’ll catch themselves and hand me their DL. Insurance cards are another beast. It’s amazing how many people flip past their insurance card when they are looking for it. I can almost hear their thoughts when they are looking for it: “I hope I have it, I know I put it in here!”

Something else I’ve noticed, is generally the older generations get more nervous on traffic stops than the younger generations (except for 16 year olds, but thats a different topic).  The younger generations are also really good about stating what they are going to do. “My insurance is in my center console, I’m going to get it, is that okay?” I’ve had people of the older generations simply start digging through anything and everything unannounced to try and find it, and let me tell you, that makes me real nervous especially when it’s a man and wife both digging through separate areas.

I’ve got more observations I’ve picked up about drivers, but I’m off to hit the dusty trail!

Heh

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2011 by Jay

You know you have friends when they pick on you…

That said, a certain macintosh owner will get this:

 In other news, I’m looking at buying a patrol rifle for me. I can’t decide if I want to go the AR route, or get an M1A or M-14.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Ideas? I’d love to hear them.

Pocket Carry Woes

Posted in Uncategorized on April 17, 2011 by Jay

About a month ago, I picked up a S&W 642 in .38 special for off duty use. I wanted something I could easily poke in my pocket and not have to worry about printing, especially if I’m going on a quick run to pick up groceries or meeting friends somewhere.

The problem is, the more I pocket carry, the more I dislike pocket carrying. It’s not my 642, I absolutely love it. It’s got a great stock trigger, it’s accurate enough for my likes, and it doesn’t weigh very much (for me). The only thing I figure is I have a lot of crap to carry. I carry:

  • S&W 642 revolver
  • Speed strip of 6 rounds
  • Badge on badge holder
  • personal cell phone
  • work cell phone
  • wallet
  • pocket knife
  • and other various loose items as needed (i.e. pen, loose change, etc)

So, I tried other alternatives to help lighten the load in my pockets, like I carried my badge around my neck, I bought cell phone holders to wear on my belt, and I bought a pouch to carry my pocket knife in. None of those worked, because I felt like I was on duty all the time with all the crap clipped on my belt.

What do I do now? I just stick all in my pockets and make it work. Since summer spring is here, I wear cargo shorts and it helps even the load a little bit, but it’s still pretty bad. Eventually, I’d like to get a belt holster for it and carry it that way. I think that might be ideal for me.

For those that pocket carry, how do you manage?

Location, location

Posted in Uncategorized on April 16, 2011 by Jay

Got woken up at 4:45 a.m. to deal with something.

I’m not upset because I had to go deal with something, that’s further than the truth. I knew when I took my oath to protect and serve the citizens and visitors of my county that it meant doing all sorts of things, whether I like them or not, at all hours of the day and/or night.

No, what I’m upset about, is receiving less than helpful location information. Dead dog in the road? No problem. Don’t mind getting out of bed at 4:45 a.m. to go remove it from the road. I do mind it when the best location information I’m given is “about 2 to 3 miles” outside of town, especially when it turned out to be 5 miles outside of town.

When you drive, look for things to help locate you, especially if your talking on a cellphone. If it’s a gas station, a county road sign, a mile marker, a store, anything to help narrow it down.

Telling the dispatcher that your 2-3 miles on the west side of town near the Chevron is perfect, cause even if the guess of 2-3 miles is off, chances are good the police are going to know where the Chevron your talking about is at.

Remember, keep your head on a swivel!

RE: What the hell is wrong with people?

Posted in Uncategorized on April 11, 2011 by Jay

One thing I’ve discovered working this job, there are 2 things that piss me off the most.

Kids getting harmed/killed and animals getting harmed/killed.

For me, it’s especially true with animals, be it pretty horses, beautiful pets, or the ugliest and stinkiest cows. Animals don’t have a voice to speak out to someone.

That makes things like Kurt The Wolf’s story, especially sad.

Quote

Posted in Uncategorized on April 7, 2011 by Jay

This is so awesome, I just had to share it:

“I came into the world kicking and screaming, covered in somebody else’s blood. I intend to go out the same way. That is all.””