What to do when encountering a police officer- some general guidelines.
While it is almost impossible to discuss all the different ways you can come into contact with a police officer, there are some very general guidelines to follow when you find yourself face-to-face with an officer. 1. First and foremost, stay calm. Take some deep breaths and relax (although I know this is easier said than done). 2. Second, no matter what is going on, try to be polite and respectful to the officer. This is just common courtesy and common sense, especially in a situation where the police are involved. 3. Third, remember that the police officer will want to be (and needs to be) in charge of the situation. Emotions run high sometimes, and the officer is trained to deal with and is used to stressful situations. Follow the officer’s instructions. Most times, his instructions are meant to ensure his safety as well as the safety of you and others. 4. Do not make any sudden moves, and do not put your hands where the officer cannot see them. While YOU know what your intentions are, the officer does not. Sudden movements or hands that are concealed can be the beginning of a dangerous situation for the officer, and he will have no choice but to react accordingly. If you must do something (reach for your wallet, open a glove box to get paperwork, etc.), you are better off announcing what you want to do and asking the officer for permission to make your moves. This is especially true if you are lawfully carrying a concealed weapon. Tell the officer what you have, where it is, and ask what he wants you to do next. Put yourself in the officer’s shoes at the moment he catches a glimpse of the handgun in your waistband or in your center console. That moment will be just the beginning of a very bad situation for all involved. 5. Never approach an officer from the rear. Like sudden moves and concealed hands, approaching an officer from the rear, especially quickly, will automatically put the officer in a defensive mode. If you are coming up from behind, try to announce your presence as you approach, so the officer knows you are coming. Try, “Excuse me, Officer,” or some other verbal announcement to clearly indicate where you are and that you are trying to get the officer’s attention. 6. Finally, never, ever under any circumstances put your hands on a police officer. Florida Statute 784.07(2)(b) makes it a 3rd degree felony to commit a Battery on a law enforcement officer (and certain, other special classes of people too). Many people think a Battery is a punch, slap or kick, but a Battery can be as simple as touching another person without that person’s permission, whether or not you cause bodily harm. What’s one of the quickest ways to get yourself handcuffed and taken to jail? Touch a law enforcement officer. As the old saying goes, keep your hands to yourself. As I said above, there is no way I could address all of the different ways that you could come in contact with a police officer. What I have tried to do here is give you some general guidelines on how to conduct yourself- what to do and what not to do- when you find yourself face-to-face with a law enforcement officer. Please feel free to comment on my suggestions and to make your own suggestions about how we should conduct ourselves when dealing with a police officer. Matt