I have always supported our troops and our first responders. Down deep inside of my conscious, I honestly feel that serving is the greatest form of community involvement. As a fourth generation Army veteran, this is something that I was not only raised to believe but I lived every day. The structure, the camaraderie, and the deep-seeded need to protect others led me to my next chapter– law enforcement.
I eventually found myself applying for an agency in my home state. I applied and was accepted for my military experience, high academic standards, sharp appearance, and life maturity; I entered the police force at the age of 35. I was on average 10 years older than the next cadet, and I was only seven years younger than the youngest instructor. So, I was gently teased about my age; it was in good fun. I missed the teamwork atmosphere that I could not find in the private sector.
However, during the past nine weeks, I have noticed that law enforcement has become far too powerful. The methodology that is being taught at agencies across the nation (or so I am told) skirt the Constitution that we swore an oath to uphold. I was constantly shocked to hear decorated local, state, and federal representatives bend the law and outright laugh at the stories of falsification of statements, coerced statements, and outright deception. This is not an indictment of the profession or honest agencies/officers. I still hold law enforcement as one of the most honorable professions. With that said, the civilian population needs to understand their rights and responsibilities.
I eventually resigned during the Academy, after my sponsoring agency received a report that I was refusing to follow instructions. The charge is true; I refuse to violate the Constitution. So, instead of risking my good name and reputation for a disciplinary hearing, I resigned without prejudice.
Here is the exact scenario that is taken from the exercise that started all of the trouble:
You are pulled over for failing to signal for a right turn on a two lane highway. After the officer gives you a lawful command to exit your vehicle and walk to the front of the patrol unit, the officer asks you the following question(s):
Officer: “Sir/Ma’am, do you have an Operator’s License?”
You: “Yes, Officer, I do.” You give the Officer your license, and the Officer asks the following question:
Officer: “Do you have Proof of Insurance and Motor Vehicle Registration?”
You: “Yes ,Officer, I have it right here.” You give the officer the requested documents.
Officer: “That is odd; most people keep it in their vehicle. Why do you have it on your person?”
You: “I just keep it there because I tend to forget where I placed it.”
Officer: “Okay, stand right here, I am going to run a check on you to verify who you are and to make sure you are authorized to operate this vehicle.”
The Officer returns and states: “I will walk you to your vehicle.”
You and the Officer walk back to the vehicle, and you sit down and buckle up. Then the officer asks you:
Officer: “Can I search your vehicle, since you carried your information so readily; I feel that you are hiding something from me?” “Do you have any weapons or contraband I need to know about?”
You: “I do not agree to any search, as I have done nothing wrong and complied with your every request.”
The officer is instantly angered by your answer and removes you from the vehicle, places you in restraints, and pat searches for “Officer safety” and detains you in his vehicle. The officer eventually finds your lawfully purchased pistol jammed between the front seat and console and arrests you for having a firearm in his state. You have no criminal record of any kind. Is the stop and arrest valid? Why or why not?
The answer that surprises you is NO! In no state in the country is this arrest valid, due to the officer not having reasonable suspicion or probable cause to walk up with you after giving the officer the requested documentation. It is a violation of your 4th Amendment. The original stop is valid, but what follows is poisoned by the officer not having consent or probable cause to search your vehicle. Therefore, the finding of the weapon would be tossed out. This is ANOTHER violation of your 4th amendment. Finally, the officer was holding your information and did not offer to return it to you. That officer is essentially COERCING you to consent to his search. This is a violation of the 5th amendment.
When I said these things, I was instantly ridiculed and threatened by the same instructors who gave me praise earlier. I went from being a model student to being a “troublemaker” in one afternoon. I resigned from the academy effective 3/17/15 for standing up for what I believe in– the United States Constitution; I hold no regrets. Here are some tips that I can give you when dealing with law enforcement.
- Do a quick Internet search of your State’s criminal law and especially vehicles traffic laws. Most states have them online.
- Never make direct eye contact with officers while driving. They are trained to pick up on that, and it gives them (in most jurisdictions) reasonable suspicion to follow you. This can lead to you making one minor error while driving to facilitate a stop.
- Never hang anything on your rear view mirror or blocking the view, such as necklace or cross, as it is a federal law that you cannot carry anything that restricts your vision while driving. Federal law allows states to enforce it.
- When subject to a stop, do NOT get out of the vehicle unless the officer instructs you to do so. This automatically escalates their mindset, and the officers will immediately place their hand on the duty weapon. Officers are being ambushed at an alarming rate.
- Always carry your license and vehicle information (driver’s license, insurance, and registration) in your wallet.
- Fighting a speeding ticket is easy, even with the laser. Just ask the agency in court when the last time the recalibration is done. They have to provide it and show it was in sync at the time of the citation; if they cannot, then you can argue it was out of sync.
- If you have open carry in your state, be respectful about it. If your state has a mandatory identification clause (such as mine), then identify yourself when approached by an officer.
- If you feel as your rights are violated, do not argue about it there. Make a formal complaint with the internal affairs division, and then escalate it from there if needed.
- If you are being pulled over in a poorly lit or dangerous area, then you are protected by federal law of slowly advancing to the nearest reasonable area to assist the officer in facilitating the stop. Don’t drive 10 miles when you pass three or four other places.
- Think about what you are going to say before you speak; officers are being trained to read body language and to confuse you during questioning. This allows them to get consent or admission during an interview/interrogation.
- You have a fundamental right to refuse searches; do not let them intimidate you by saying it can be held against you. It can’t in any capacity.
- Always ask during moments of silence, “Am I free to go?” or “Am I being detained?” This places the burden on them for probable cause.
- Running from the police automatically gives them reasonable suspicion to stop you. So, if you are doing something illegal and you see police, DO NOT RUN.
- If you are being placed under arrest and the officer is becoming rough with you, repeatedly say, “I am not resisting. Do not hurt me!”
- If you are going to film police, do not be like those clowns on Copwatch. Do it safely from a distance.
- If the police come to your door and ask you to step outside or open it, you do NOT have to comply. They need a warrant unless an exigent circumstance occurs. An exigent circumstance would be them hearing a scream or cry for assistance, a gunshot, or any criminal violation that is against people (drugs included).
- If you are being interrogated (different from interviewed), repeatedly say this one word: LAWYER! Officers have a right to come back later and ask if you wish to talk, but if you say “no”, then they MUST leave.
Remember, police are trained with the mindset that three types of people in the world exist: the sheep (civilians), the wolves (criminals), and the sheepdogs (police). The sheepdogs will tell you that they are only protecting the flock, when in fact they are predators themselves. Police are now being trained to prey upon criminals rather than to uphold the constitution at all cost. This statement does not apply to all police, but this statement does apply to those in law enforcement who bend the rules to make an arrest or stop.