5 Things You Never Say To A Cop
By Joe Klare
Many of us have been there. You are out driving your car and you have some weed on you. Maybe you’re going to a friend’s house to blaze up. A friendly thing to do. But things are derailed a bit when you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror.
First things first, don’t panic. Whatever happens, DO NOT hit the gas and try to outrun the police. Cops have helicopters now, as do a lot of news stations. The odds of you getting away are slim to none. Besides, you don’t have a body in the trunk, right? Right?
My point is, having weed isn’t the end of the world, and most traffic stops go by without searches being involved.
Pull over where you can and stop. Be patient, cops will take forever during traffic stops. You are on their time now so you might as well accept it. This is a good time to think of what traffic law you might have broke, and possibly a plausible excuse. Most cops don’t care about excuses, but it’s a handy thing to have.
Now the officer is coming up to your window. It’s go-time. Here are some things to avoid:
1) Never say “What’s up, dude?” This person is not your homie. Always address the police as “officer,” or “sheriff,” if it applies. Being a smart-mouth or acting like this traffic stop is anything less than very important will awaken a cop’s ticket-writing instincts. He will then be looking for any reason to screw up your day – which includes a lengthy search of your vehicle. “Sir” and “ma’am” are also good to throw in where applicable.
2) If the officer asks you if you know what you did wrong, don’t ask “Isn’t that your job?” This again falls into the smart-mouth category, and once the cop thinks of you as the “smart-ass,” things will deteriorate quickly. A friend of mine was once pulled over for having a loud muffler; when the cop asked if he had a muffler on the car, my friend said, “yeah, look, it’s right there,” and pointed to the bottom of the car. The cop found my friend’s weed after a quick search. Cops can be sarcastic, not you.
3) If the officer asks you to get out of the vehicle, don’t say “no.” In fact, the only time you should say no to a cop is when they ask you if you were aware of an illegality on your part or if they can search the car. At all other times try to be a cooperative as possible. And always be polite.
4) If a cop asks if they can search your car, don’t say, “my so-and-so is a lawyer and he said I don’t have to allow that.” The police don’t care who you know; they know they cannot search your car without probable cause or your permission. Never give your permission. Be polite. If they say they are calling a K-9 unit, call their bluff and let them. Many cops don’t want to put in that kind of time if they don’t have a reason to. This means if they see you as a polite, cooperative person, they’ll drop it. And if they do call the dogs, at least you didn’t mouth off and give them reason too.
5) In the event that your stash if found by the police and it is illegal for you to posses it, never say…anything.
“Citizens shouldn’t be engaging in any conversations with police during these encounters beyond asserting their fourth amendment rights to not consent to a search of their vehicle, and asking: “Am I under arrest officer; am I free to go?” says Paul Armentano of NORML. This is solid advice; when in doubt, say nothing. And once the officer thinks he has cause enough to search your vehicle, clamp your mouth shut.
Most police officers are looking to give you a ticket for your speeding or stop sign-running. Unless you are driving recklessly, they have no reason to want to put the time into a search that – odds are – will produce nothing but wasted time.
Always remember: be polite and respectful, even if the officer isn’t. Let them give you your ticket and be on their way. Don’t give them any reason to prolong your encounter. There is no reason that contact between you and the police shouldn’t be quick and rare in occurrence.
A note for those of you who tend to be “chatty” in real life: Be someone else when talking to police during a traffic stop. The less you talk the less chance there is of you landing upon a subject that rubs the officer the wrong way. A traffic stop isn’t a cocktail party or a video game session in your friend’s basement. The less said the better, and if you follow the tips above, you should come out of most law enforcement encounters unscathed.