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Ask a cop: What to do if confronted by police officer

Golden from Houston asks: Thank you for contributing to the Port Arthur News and answering questions from citizens about the law. Your column is excellent!  You answer questions using explanations that are easy to understand.  Given the events in Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore, Maryland; and McKinney, Texas, please explain to citizens what they should and should not do when a Police Officer makes a traffic stop or stops someone in a public place.  Using plain English, explain to citizens the right and wrong things to say and do when confronted with a Police Officer who is doing his/her job and making a lawful stop.  Thanks.

Answer: Very good, timely question/request Golden! It seems like you can’t turn on a television set without seeing some type of physical confrontation between a police officer and the citizens they are sworn to protect. From a law enforcement perspective, these types of incidents are NOT new to us, because there have always verbal, physical, and deadly confrontations between police officers and citizens almost on a daily basis.

What the difference is now, you may ask? Well, the answer is SOCIAL MEDIA! With everyone armed with a video camera via cell phone, and postings on Facebook and other social outlets, several incidents have gathered the attention of persons of great authority and power like the President of the United States of America. Several of these incidents instantly became national news where normally it would have been local news.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying the public shouldn’t be aware of every physical or deadly incident involving a police officer against a citizen, or physical force involving a citizen against a police officer.  Most people believe the police officers need to be better trained to deal with citizens. Well, on that note, I’m NEVER against additional training. But if you ask me what do I believe the core of the problem is, I will confidently tell you that citizens need to be trained/taught how to conduct themselves when confronted by a police officer.

Golden, if I can sum up what a citizen should do if confronted by a Police Officer, it’s this: COMPLY! For those of you who are regular readers of “Ask A Cop,” you will remember not long ago I put out an article of the 25 things you should do if stopped by a Police Officer. Well, I narrowed the list in half Golden, and it’s now “The top 10 things you should do if you are stopped by a Police Officer!” These 10 instructions will apply if you are on foot or in a vehicle:

1st REMAIN CALM, and if there are others with you ask them to remain quiet and cooperative to the Officer’s requests.

2nd, AVOID instantly thinking that the stop was based purely on your race, gender or religion. These type of stops are a violation of your federal civil rights and believe me, police officers know that!

3rd, Keep your hands in plain view, don’t reach into your glove box, under your seat, purse or pants pocket until asked to do so by a police officer.

4th, we understand no one likes to be stopped by the polic, but give the police Officer an opportunity to explain why you are being stopped.

5th, don’t argue with the Police Officer while the investigation is ongoing. If you don’t approve with his/her actions, you are more than welcome to call their supervisor or the judge LATER. The Police Officer knows the level of his/her authority, so even if you don’t like or approve of the Officer, RESPECT their authority.

6th, don’t trip or freak out if another Police car or Officer arrives to assist. This is routinely done in law enforcement.  It doesn’t mean you are in greater trouble, they are there for the police officer’s and your protection.

7th, let the police officer know early during the stop if you are in possession of a properly concealed weapon.

8th, NEVER attempt to run away from a police officer or pretend as though you don’t hear them ordering you to STOP!

9th, carry proper identification on you at all times.

10th, parents, teach your children to respect police officers. STOP using the Police Officers as a threat to keep your kids in line. I hear parents all the time tell their kids “there’s a Police Officer, I’m going to get him to arrest you if you don’t…….”! Parents, PLEASE cease this communication to your kids because this instills a frightened behavior between children and Police Officers. Please keep in mind they don’t stay kids forever. So, we end up with adults that don’t like the POLICE because their Mom/Dad made them afraid of them as kids.

I know this is real because growing up my mother was and still is deafly afraid of heights, and TODAY so am I. So what you say and do in front of your kids can have lifetime effects – Thanks Mom!

Golden, most people don’t know that well over 100 police officers nationwide die in the line of duty annually. At the end of the day police officers just want to go home the same way they left — in ONE piece. Police Officers don’t leave home just to beat, shoot, or kill someone. So let’s make it easier on yourself and the Police Officers and just COMPLY!

Molly from Port Arthur asks: Is it the law to obey the flashing school zone light during summer time? I am aware that some schools are still in session during the summer, so is it the driver’s responsibility to still abide by the school zone speed limit or can it be ignored? I constantly see vehicles still traveling 25 and 35 mph on stadium and 9th Avenue respectively. Help me! I don’t really know and I surely don’t won’t to be stopped breaking the school zone speed law.

Answer: Good question Molly! Once the last day of regular school session is over the school zone speed zones are NOT enforceable, meaning, you are not required to obey the school zone flashing lights and speed zone. Hopefully, the city electricians will deactivate all the school zones until the new school year in August. Thanks for making our roads safer, Molly!

Join Officer Antoine for “Ask A Cop” live, on KSAP 96.9 FM, “The Breeze,” every Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. You can also tune in via internet at www.ksapthebreeze.org. Feel free to call in and ask your question live to Officer Antoine at 409-982-0247.