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Old 03-18-07, 06:11 AM   #1
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Default how to manage traffic stops

i posted this over in a v1 thread in i.c.e./security. if i'm going to write something this long, i want people to see it so i'm starting a thread.

some ground rules, por favor:
the only thing i love more than law enforcement folks is driving fast. i do not want this thread to degenerate into a "i hate those sob cops" litany of complaints. we've got a lot of people on the job in this forum and they deserve our respect. i do not want anyone to be confused about this thread's content or purpose. everyone has a stake in this; cops want to do a good job and go home safely. we (civilians) want to avoid tickets whenever we can. this post is to help everyone get what they want. simple.

first of all, there is a limit to any of this. do something bad or behave stupidly enough and all bets are off.

remember, you are playing the percentages. if you can walk from 7, 8 or 9 out of 10 stops you are doing pretty well. if you can't do any time, then don't do any crime. if you can live with the prospect of one or two or three tickets over 10 stops; you go boy. whatever you do, don't whine or blame the cop for your ticket(s). he's doing his job looking for and catching bad guys. you just want him to know you are one of the good guys.

the thing that kills most people during stops is their attitude toward the cop during the stop. do not fail to appreciate what he is going through when he throws the lights on. he is simultaneously excited because his "prey drive" is activated and he is scared of the unknown. if he isn't in a high state of alert, he lacks the survival instinct to do the work and i can tell you that every officer i have ever met wants to go home to his or her family. by recognizing that and acting in a way that let's him feel safe, you immediately have his prey drive and his prosecutorial spirit down to a dull roar.

do not make him chase you. do not want make him accelerate or brake hard to get you:
the moment i know he wants me (my v1 is pegged because i lost my concentration and sense of tactics, whatever) i start to pull over. in fact, on a couple of occasions i have braked so fast that i was able to pull up to him so he didn't have to pull out at all. you do not want to deal with a cop who has had to pick his way through traffic at white knuckle speeds just to get up behind you. make it leisurely.

also, if you are passing and there is traffic in the right hand lane, instead of diving on the brakes, throw on your right turn signal and keep rolling until you complete the pass and then pull over for him. he already has you clocked so it doesn't matter if you continue to do 80. in other words, do your best to keep the flow of traffic around you safe. if there's an easy way to slow down and move over, do it. if not, throw your turn signal on and keep going until it's safe to do otherwise.

make sure he is in a safe part of the road or highway when you do pull over:
one cop was so appreciative that let me go as soon as he walked up to the window because the place he threw his lights on me was in the middle of a confusing construction pattern. i signaled my intention to pull over and waited almost a mile until a shoulder good enough to let him work safely presented itself.

make sure you pull over far enough to the right of the shoulder to allow him to offset his car behind you to create a safe lane for ingress and egress for himself.

when you do pull over:
- turn off your v1
- turn the interior lights on
- turn the music off
- roll down the front windows on both sides. some cops prefer to approach from the passenger side. when he's got a partner, they always approach from both sides with the second officer slightly behind and covering.
- have both hands on the steering wheel long before he approaches the window.

never have your paperwork ready - ever:
when you have the paperwork ready when he gets there he has nothing to discuss with you. instead, he's concerned because you are fiddling as he's approaching. he doesn't know what you were doing or looking for. don't do that.

you have 15 seconds to convince him he likes you:
that's it. he's a human being and just like anyone else, he's more inclined to give you a break if he likes you. he will never get a chance to like you if you have your paperwork handy and he walks off with it or worse yet, you cop an attitude. the more he feels in control the better off you are. do not be too proud or manly to bare your throat. you want him to be top dog.

if you want him to like you - you have to like him...no...love him. i call this my "love the cop youre with" rule.

don't act stupid or argue when he asks you, "do you know why i pulled you over". you are finished before you start:
i'm about to give you bad legal advice and i urge you to use your best judgment, especially if the possible ticket or charges are significant. however, when he knows you were speeding and you know he knows that you are speeding, to give him a dumb ass look and go, "whaaaat?", isn't going to get you far. you also have to realize that he will take notes of anything said by you, including any admissions of guilt.

having said that, i have found that the best policy is to be pissed at yourself for being so stupid, avoid acknowledging any specific number, say you are sorry and come up with a reason for being distracted. i use skydiving narrative...big record attempts...they didn't go well...blah, blah, blah. use anything he may be interested in or can connect with, including personal emergencies, etc. i'm also a defensive tactics instructor and federal firearms dealer so i often play those cards when i start talking. the primary goal is to engage him in conversation.

when he asks for your license and registration...:
tell him where the documents are and ask for permission to get them. start talking right now - that 15 second clock is already running.

if you have a ccw permit and the weapon is in the car, this becomes a genuinely magical moment. "officer ("trooper", "deputy", "sarge" if he has rank visible) my license and registration are in my fanny pack. "i want you to know that i have a licensed handgun in my fanny pack."

at that very moment, he has just set aside whatever the hell it was that he stopped you for. he is simultaneously alert, relieved and grateful that you told him about it.

await his instructions or ask him/her, "how do you want me to proceed?" once you have notified him you are armed, leave it completely up to him to resolve. i have had some cops let me proceed to retrieve the paperwork within his view. i have had other cops react much more concerned (paranoid even - this is not a bad thing) and ask me to leave it there on the seat while they went to the pass side to look for themselves. i had a traffic stop on my harley where the cop took my weapon out of my pack as i wore it and then disappeared to his car for 5 minutes. he returned and had a 15 minute conversation with me about the custom port job before letting me walk. he even started pissed off at me because i did not see him in my tiny custom rear view mirrors and he really had to work to get me to pull over.

when i am out of jurisdiction to carry i make sure my ccw permit in plain view as i'm shuffling through my cards. at the very least he knows i'm a law abiding citizen. same thing with pba cards. (bruce's tip of the day: keep your documents deliberately out of order so you have to shuffle the stack. he'll be watching as you pass through the cards that are in your (and his) best interest for him to see. you are also adding to that 15 second clock as you draw him into conversation. it's not that sinister, actually. he wants to know what youre all about and he'll be using the extended conversation to do good police work.)

every single time i have notified the cop of the weapon, i have escaped a ticket. it is a remarkable thing to behold if you have never seen it.

finally, to the question, "may i search your car" the answer is...:
this probably won't get me bonus points from the cops on iwsti, but i'm a big constitutional bill of rights kind of guy and i'm surrounded by attorneys 24/7. never give consent to a search no matter how sure you are that the car is clean. once you voluntarily consent to a search you can never assert your 4th amendment rights from that moment forward. he knows that most people, even people with contraband, will say yes so as not to seem uncooperative. from his standpoint, there is no harm in asking you the question, especially your being young with ol' dirty bastard blasting and driving a car like this. there is also no harm in saying no to him in response. ask him if he has a reason on which to detain you or to search your car. note you were in a hurry (which is why he stopped you in the first place) and ask politely (and then insist) that he let you go if there is nothing currently to detain you for.

btw, no one walks from a dui/dwi these days; not the mayor; not even another cop. if you are hammered when you drive, you deserve what you get.

i'm sure i'll be editing this for a while. please keep this thread on track.
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Old 03-18-07, 06:28 AM   #2
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great stuff....and i totally agree about pulling over quickly and safely...it gets things off to a good start.
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Old 03-18-07, 06:42 AM   #3
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Bruce, extremely informative writeup, thanks a lot man!
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Old 03-18-07, 06:50 AM   #4
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Nice write up Bruce. I have to add that you should never admit to speeding after being stopped. By law, your admission is a "guilty" plea. If you go to court to fight the ticket all the cop has to recall is that you said, "yes, I was probably going to fast". Or whatever.

Three big don't; Don't be a smartass, don't be smug, don't be disrespectful.
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Old 03-18-07, 06:59 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boxer
Nice write up Bruce. I have to add that you should never admit to speeding after being stopped. By law, your admission is a "guilty" plea. If you go to court to fight the ticket all the cop has to recall is that you said, "yes, I was probably going to fast".
i did make that point, boxer, but it never hurts to make it again.
(how come your avatar isn't showing up for me?)
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Old 03-18-07, 07:02 AM   #6
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Very informative, but my only discrepancy is the part about not having your paper work ready ever. You seem like you know way more then I do so im not going argue or anything like that, but i live in a college town, and i get pulled over on a regular basis at night just because of my type of car. I never get a ticket cause im not usually breaking the law, but the cops seem to appreciate the fact that everything is ready by the time they walk up. and while they are reading it over and asking me questions i brown-nose a bit. Always seems to work for me... None the less... good thread.
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Old 03-18-07, 07:10 AM   #7
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is it safe to tell him my gun is under the seat... should I own a gun lol
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Old 03-18-07, 07:14 AM   #8
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Nice right up...


I have three cops in my family and when I get pulled over I do what was told to me by them... everything you said is on the money...

But I know some are very insecure, when getting pulled over by an unmark police cars... these days anyone can put police lights and sirens on there personal cars.. In New Jersey, the state police drive in the highway in unmark ford crown vics...

There's often people, buying used police cars and using the car to pull people over and rob them at that point... some of these thieves can be in plain clothes, others in police uniforms... If you are unsure if the person behind you is a cop or not, you have the right to continue driving to a safe location... but you have to let he/she know you know that their there and put your hazards on... if you cannot find a safe area than continue on driving with your hazards on until you see a mark police car behind you...

I have done this a lot and it works... but get ready to get b.s from the cop in the unmark... but hey you have the right to do so to yourself safe... once you explain it to them... they will understand...

Oh by the way, turn off the car and take your keys out of the ignition and put it on the dash, they like when you do that it insure them that you won't run...

Hope that also helps...
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Old 03-18-07, 07:14 AM   #9
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Great post and I can say from experience it works for the one time I have been pulled over in the STI.

Quote:
when you do pull over:
- turn off your v1
- turn the interior lights on
- turn the music off
- roll down the front windows on both sides. some cops prefer to approach from the passenger side. when he's got a partner, they always approach from both sides with the second officer slightly behind and covering.
- have both hands on the steering wheel long before he approaches the window.
I would also add turn off the engine to that list. But doing these things and being polite and respectful will greatly increase your chances of walking or getting a reduced ticket. I think this is sticky material as well..
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Old 03-18-07, 07:29 AM   #10
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Awesome write-up. When I get pulled over, my mind goes blank, and I handle the situation like a naive, and uninformed 10 year old. Now I know how to handle it in an intelligent way. Thanks.
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