Language between citizen and police?

Posted on 2015-02-07
Last Modified: 2016-12-02
Language/behavior between citizen and police?

Setting scene. One on one, single member of police vs sole citizen. Confrontation, like squad car pulls over a vehicle, They meet and begin to talk/converse. Where should the line(s) be drawn for each, in terms of language/behavior?

Select any/all to address opinion towards answer:

1) Language that is neutral, proper, appropriate?

3) Language that is clearly over the line?

2) Language that is in between?

For example, among those I confess to have tried:
"What's your problem, officer?"

Optional: What to do when one thinks the other is about to, or has already crossed the line?
Question by:SunBow
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LVL 83

Assisted Solution

by:Dave Baldwin
Dave Baldwin earned 150 total points
ID: 40596576
In the US, the police carry the guns.  Talk to them politely and as little as possible.  They are the police, You are Always the suspect.
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Accepted Solution

leonstryker earned 200 total points
ID: 40599172
As citizens we find ourselves speaking to "criminals" less than 1% of the time. For police officers I would venture to say it is way above 1% of the time in the course of performing their job. By default they consider each encounter as possibly dangerous, until proven otherwise. It is up to a citizen to establish that they are not a threat. Being respectful goes a long way towards that.

I remember something that happened a long time ago when I was in college. I was stopped by an officer at 3 am for going 55 in a 25 mph zone, while on my way home from a friend's house. As he approached my car I saw that his hand was on his holster. I placed my hands through my wheel on the dashboard of my car.  Then the officer saw that, I saw him smile and relax. his hand came away from the holster.  He must have realized that I was not drunk and not a crazy. We spoke and he let me go with a warning.

The point is that I was no longer considered a threat, but a young kid being a young kid. Things could have been quite different if I chose to mouth off.
LVL 38

Assisted Solution

BillDL earned 150 total points
ID: 40767672
There is some great advice in this video, and it's not just intended for non-white citizens:

I would add the following statements to those that should not be used when addressing a police officer, because it simply provides them with the motive to lock you up or kick your ass:

1. I pay your wages.
2. Don't you have anything better to do with your time?
3. There's a strong smell of bacon around here.  <sniff, sniff>
4. Oink, oink.
5. Was the donut shop closed or something?
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LVL 24

Author Comment

ID: 41909381
In response to

 by :Insignificant Volunteer- 2015-05-08

Confessions of earlier youth: from "what's the problem" to "what"s your problem" or something like that. All too easy to tire from frequency of being pulled over.

More recently evoking measure of curiosity: "why so many here" which led to unanticipated response of: "we've nothing better to do"

 by: leonstryker - 2015-02-09

Ditto. Recalling one most likely to have gone awry - beers in the trunk whilst in college. Officer asked we were going, spoke truth, to nearby off the road park. Was let off then to enable some ufo sightings.

 by:Dave Baldwin - 2015-02-08

Agreed. Obey first. Raise objection later.

Although refuted in one case by his fellow officers once he was outnumbered: why not have spoken out? er, sorry there was just something about feeling the cold weapon that had been pressed against the back of the neck....

Three experts on target. Taking now some time to think and find some grubsteak
LVL 24

Author Closing Comment

ID: 41909542
Note this was originally offered at max of 50, retaining the former.

Now done but noticing own redundancy need do another.

Pulled over at midnight:

a) For doing only 35 in a 45, When asked "what's that smell" tried "new car smell?" and got off without either warning or registration.

b) For offering aid to stranded motorist and not responding promptly to "why don't you go home?" got locked up (jailed) for belligerency. No check made of registration which would show it was not my vehicle.

c) Having just left friends place, got followed and pulled over for "evading surveilance" and was let off the hook.

Selecting best as  the more visual of hands. While proper exercise can be different from one locale to another (ex: one may prefer driver to exit vehicle, I tend to remain at wheel inside but would roll down window if possible)

The important thing is to ensure both hands very visible.

Not addressed yet is when/where to pull over.  I tend to first look for a place permitting distance from traffic. So would drive on at reduced speed, likely with emergency lights blinking. Do be aware that many officers and some motorists are run over by other motorists.

Then again twice kept going and got off. First was some vehicle tailing me on major highway with front lights blinking back and forth.  While thinking first fireman? Then unmarked car? Slowing down to maybe 25-30 in a 55-65 made it to exit ramp to pull over, looked and saw had lost my tail.

Once in ignorance made quick left into strip mall. Parked. Began to walk aimlessly as way. Nope, none showed up.

Well, just try do best to get room for both vehicles to get as far off road as possible.

Some will just make stop pronto, remaining on highway.  Not to be recommended.
LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 41909850
Thank you SunBow

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