Ask a Cop: Citizens have rights, but follow orders made by an officer
Published 9:18 am Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Eddie from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine, I read your article regularly and I found last week’s article on “How to respond if approached by a Police Officer” very confusing. Now, I do understand we have a need for Law Enforcement protection in this society that we live in, but to ask someone to comply to a police officer’s requests at ALL times seems to stretch reality a bit too far.
Officer Antoine, if I didn’t mistake last week’s article, are you suggesting that if I am stopped by a police officer, whatever the police officer tells me is right? If I am in my car that I paid for and a police officer approaches me and tells me to “GET OUT,” and I know I haven’t done anything, WHY do I have to get out? I haven’t done anything wrong! We citizens have rights too, Officer Antoine, and I think police officers should be more understanding when dealing with people in the community! What do you think, Officer Antoine?
Answer: Good question, Eddie! First, Eddie, I would invite you to go back and reread last week’s article carefully and read with understanding. You asked, “What do I think?” WOW! On this issue I’m sure “The News” cannot provide me with enough space to say ALL that I need to say on this subject (Smile). But I will say this: yes, citizens have rights.
But if a police officer asks you to get out of the car you paid for, do it. Yes, I’m sure police officers could be more in touch with the communities they protect and serve, Eddie, but keep in mind that police officers are humans, not machines or robots. We experience many different contacts with citizens on a daily basis.
For example, we encounter people such as someone who is upset because of speeders on their street, a child not listening to his parents, someone stealing out of a business, someone seriously hurt in a traffic crash because they failed to wear their seat belts, someone whose vehicle was burglarized, someone that returns home to find their front/back door is kicked in not knowing if someone is still inside, a husband and wife fighting over infidelity, neighbors arguing because someone put a bag in their trash can, someone trespassing, someone grabbing a purse from an elderly lady and she fell to the ground and is injured, or someone shooting a friend over a card game.
Eddie, last week we saw it all, even in the place where we go to for peace and serenity to experience God’s presence. We respond to disturbances, fights, shootings at churches, and the ultimate responding to a fellow officer needing assistance where someone has resisted and been injured, or God forbid, killed a police officer. These types of calls are received and responded to daily by police officers all over this country.
So Eddie, if a police officer orders you out of your vehicle, my answer hasn’t changed. COMPLY! Eddie, I’m a police officer, and if a police officer approaches my car or even my home and orders me out of my car/home, orders me to lay on the ground on my stomach with my hands in plain view, even though I know all too well I haven’t done anything, guess what? Officer Antoine will do it. I’m going to come out of my car/house and lay on the ground with my hands in view.
Eddie, even if you believe your rights are being violated, the place and time to fight those allegations is NOT when the police officer is seeking compliance from you! Wait until the process is over and if you feel you have been wrongfully treated, then you can call his/her supervisor and file an official complaint. Keep in mind, if a police officer orders you out of your vehicle, they have a reason for doing so and chances are the order will not be rescinded especially if you are non-compliant to the orders.
Eddie, I invite you and other citizens of Port Arthur to come to the Port Arthur Police Department and fill out a request form for a chance to experience a program called “Citizens Ride-Along.” All applicants approved by the Chief of Police will be allowed to ride with a police officer of their choice or any officer available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and 7 days a week because the Port Arthur Police Department NEVER closes our doors or stops answering the phone. We are always here for our citizens’ needs. Eddie, don’t put all the responsibility on a police officer to present themselves accordingly during any contact with a police officer.
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 want 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 zone lights until the new school year in August. Thanks for making our roads safer, Molly!
Nikki from Nederland asks: Officer Antoine, my boyfriend has a big truck with four wheels on the rear, two on each side. He recently bought the truck but it didn’t have mud flaps on the rear wheels, and he doesn’t believe you need the mud flaps because it’s a personal vehicle. I remember my Dad always fussing about getting new mud flaps for his big truck also. We are weekly readers of your column. He said he would believe it if he sees it in the column or hears it from you. Do you need mud flaps for a personal vehicle with four wheels on the rear?
Answer: Good question, Nikki! Yes, Nikki, you are correct about the flaps. State law requires any vehicle with at least four tires on the rear most axle to have safety guards or flaps that hang no higher than eight inches from the road. Nikki, you should cut out this article and frame it for his constant remembrance of who is right! (Smile). He should be grateful you didn’t steer him wrong.
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