|RESPECT MY AUTHORITAH!|
From the time I was 14, when I was inducted into a life of crime, I've had many opportunities to interact with the uniformed officers of the Honolulu Police Department. I was an outlaw, a scofflaw of the most mediocre and common sorts. A juvenile delinquent who managed to avoid an overnight stay in a jail cell simply because of the judgement calls exercised by the HPD officers that apprehended me while I was in the act of defying the local laws and ordinances of my State.
As a Gen X'er, breaking curfew (10pm) to drink alcohol in the community parks and at the beaches with my pal's was a rite of passage. Everyone who "partied" in high school did it. Including most of the Cops who upon reaching adulthood and their chosen vocation, now found themselves breaking up the kinds of parties they themselves attended when they were growing up.
Most of these officers were cool. "Alright kids, dump out your beers, pick up your rubbish and get out of here."
Most times, we kids complied with no back talk and showed respect. We knew they could arrest us if they chose to, and that they were cutting us a break. But we heard tales of other kids who showed no respect, and found out exactly what HPD could do if they so chose to when they caught kids drinking. One kid in my school got beat up by the cops after swearing at the cops for breaking up their after-hours party at the beach park. He then got arrested, resulting in the cops finding the drugs in his pocket. He eventually ended up in Juvie-hall, and eventually got taken out of his home by social services and had to live in a State half-way house until he was 18.
But most times, HPD was cool.
When I was a little older, I got my first car....but I did not have my driver's license yet. I got pulled over in a neighboring town with 3 of my friends in the car. We had been drinking a little beer (but not drunk). None of us had a license. (Told you I'm a scofflaw!)
As I was under 21, even .01% blood alcohol content is considered a DUI/DWI in Hawaii. Not only did I not have my driver's license, neither did any of my friends. No registration or insurance either. The cop that pulled me over could have literally changed my life dramatically at that point with an arrest and DUI charge. Instead, he told me to pull my car over onto the side of the road, and told me he'd drive us all home and that I could come back with a licensed driver the next day to get my car.
This is what the cops were like back in the late 80's and early 90's in Hawaii. It was much like small town Sheriffs in the old days. They exercised discretion and treated the citizenry like people. They realized that the law was excessively draconian if it were to be applied with zero tolerance or consideration of each situation.
Those where the good old days, when I had respect for most Law Enforcement Officers I encountered.
Things are different now.
Several months ago, I got caught breaking the law. I was using my cell phone while stopped at a red light. I didn't see the cop car behind me, and they turned on their lights and beeped their siren to catch my attention.
In the State of Hawaii, it's a $149 ticket for using your cell phone while operating a motor vehicle.
But, hey, the cops are just doing their job right?
Except things have changed. I've gotten pulled over before for speeding. Running a red light. Failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign...hey, I already told you I've been an outlaw since I was 14!
Sometimes I got a ticket. Other times, I got a warning and let go. In all cases, the cop usually treated me with respect and didn't condescendingly belittle me or act like an asshole on a powertrip.
But THIS time, for the unconscionable crime of using teh cell phone while driving, I had TWO officers approach my vehicle in a hostile and aggressive manner. While one officer came to my driver's side window and demanded my license and paperwork in a condescending and demeaning tone and manner, his partner stood on the passenger side, with his hand on his gun, ready to draw, as he intently scanned my car with a hostile look on his face, looking for any possible reason to arrest me.
For the first time, the officer looking at my paperwork and interrogating me, began to ask me potentially self-incriminating questions in a manner as if I were a defendant on the witness stand being cross-examined by a Prosecutor. Did I have a firearm in my car? Did I have any illegal drugs? Open containers? Where was I going to?
This sort of traffic stop is something I recognized from the standard operating procedure as depicted on the Tell-A-Vision in locales like the inner city ghettos and major Metropolitan areas of the country.
First time I ever saw that here in Hawaii.
After I got my ticket and was on my way, I talked to some HPD officers that I know personally, asking about this new procedure, and if in fact the cops were actively looking for any reason to arrest me?
Yes, this is the new normal here in Hawaii. No longer are the cops given much leeway in using their own judgement. They are trained to ENFORCE THE LAW, instead of the formerly common practice of maintaining law and order in the community by policing with judgement and discretion. Cops can now get in trouble for letting people go with just a warning.
There is a difference in the two approaches. With things progressing like that here in Hawaii (the land of Aloha!), I can only imagine how much worse it is getting in other areas of our Brave New World Order.
With this new understanding of the new normal of law enforcement here in Hawaii, I found this post from Eric Peter's Autos blog timely and an important reminder to all of us Sheeple, beholden to teh Authoritah of those who carry a gun and a badge and a tax collecting "ticket" book. These are things you should always remember when you get stopped by an officer OF THE LAW:
* Never forget: Cops are not your friend; they are not there to “help” you. They are there to bust you. Don’t make it easier for them. Make it harder for them.
* Never forget that cops are legally permitted to lie to you. Take nothing they tell you at face value. Assume their intentions are malignant.
* Never forget that a cop is a law enforcer. He is there to enforce the law – any law, every law. It doesn’t matter whether the law is reasonable – or whether you’re a nice guy who doesn’t “deserve” to be hassled. Cops are paid to enforce the law. Period.
* If stopped, keep your window rolled up almost all the way; leave just enough of a gap to allow you to hand the cop your license/documents. If he “asks” you to roll it down, politely decline. Whenever a cop “asks,” it means you do not have to comply. If they order you to do something, then you must do it. But force them to make it clear you are being ordered to comply – “Is that an order?” – and are only complying under duress and not of your own free will.
* Be civil – not slavish. A cop is not “sir.” By so addressing him, you feed his inner bully and Rule Number One for dealing effectively with bullies is to not let them think you are a pussy. Simple – and curt – “yes” and “no” answers will get the point across without being directly confrontational.
* Never make the mistake of responding directly to a cop’s purposefully leading questions – which means, all of his questions. If the cop says, “Do you know why I stopped you?” You tell him, “I suppose you will tell me your reason.” If he says, “Do you know how fast you were going?” You say, “I’m sure you have an opinion.” If he asks whether you’ve been drinking, you remain silent.
* Never concede anything that could be construed – will be construed in court – as evidence in support of whatever charges are leveled at you.
* Never admit to anything – ever.
*Never attempt to excuse anything you may have done. Be silent. Shrug. But do not make excuses. Do not offer an explanation. If you do, you’ve just handed the cop exactly what he wants most – a tacit admission of guilt, which in court will become the basis for establishing your legal guilt.
* You have to give them your ID and insurance info – if you are operating a motor vehicle on “public” roads. It is “the law.” But you do not – yet – have to tell them where you’re going, where you’ve been – or anything else. If asked, shrug. State – politely, calmly – that you won’t be answering any questions.
* Ask – repeatedly – whether you are free to go. It’s an excellent stock answer to cop questions.
* If you have a concealed carry permit, the cop probably already knows – having run your license plate info through the computer in his car. Still, it is good policy to tell him, even if you are not legally obligated to do so (it varies, state to state). This is a psychological tactic which shows you (in the cop’s eyes) to be “cooperative” without your actually having complied with anything that’s against your interests. It may help defuse the situation – important when guns are involved.
* Never consent to a search. If a cop asks for permission, he is asking permission. It means he hasn’t got legal probable cause – yet. Do not give it to him. Politely tell him, “I do not consent to any searches.” Repeat as necessary. If he searches you/your vehicle anyway, you may have a legal basis for challenging the admissibility of anything found. But if you gave your consent to the search – and not objecting is the same as consenting – then anything found as a result of that search can and will be used against you in court.
* Record the interaction. Higher courts have consistently ruled it is legal to do so, irrespective of what the cop tells you (see point made above about cops lying). There is no expectation of privacy in public. He can record you – you can record him. Use audio and video. If the cop “asks” you to turn off the equipment, politely decline. Merely state you are recording the interaction in the interests of everyone’s safety.
Just like they do to us.
All of these are excellent suggestions. The only thing I would add, would be to temper any of these with your personal situation. If you're pulled over in a public location with plenty of witnesses, all of these forms of compliance without self incrimination are probably safe and may get you out of the stop without even a ticket.
But if you get stopped by a cop in a deserted area with no witnesses around, it would probably be best to cooperate to some extent with the cop in order to avoid getting them angry and provoking them into acting above the law, protected by the thin blue line.
You never know which kind of cop just pulled you over. Some are law abiding, respectful and well intentioned. Others...not so much.