Monthly Archives: January 2011

Tips on What to Do When You Are Pulled Over

Blue lights behind you can be very intimidating, or even scary. Even the best of us will not pay attention every now and then and someone else will notice. And I’ll admit, that was me this morning in Vandalia. 47 in a 35. I know better, and most times I won’t speed like that (because I know what speed does, but another story for another time). I’ve been in a police cruiser 11 times now, but was quite shaken this morning. I was given a verbal warning and sent on my way. So that inspired me to do a “public service” message.

Being stopped is nerve wracking. But it doesn’t have to ruin your day…or theirs. Here’s a couple tips I’ve found that may help you.

1. Pull over in a safe place – for you AND the officer.

The most important rule to follow is to pull over in a SAFE area, as soon as it is reasonable and safe to do so. Avoid narrow left shoulders. If you are in a left lane , signal to get over. Use your hazard lights. Make sure you are NOT in a lane of traffic. That will risk your safety as well as theirs.

2. Don’t coast.

“If you just keep coasting, the cop is going to think, ‘What is this guy doing?’ He may think you’re stalling because you’re trying to stash something,” warns a police officer. “If you pass a few safe places to pull over, the officer is definitely going to think you’re up to something, and that raises suspicion.”

3. Keep your engine running

Officers generally didn’t like the citizen to turn off their engines, because if if it doesn’t start again then you’re in a situation where you have to wait for a buddy or a wrecker, and in most situations they wait too. Then you’re mad because they stopped you, and it’s just a bad scenario.

4. Keep your hands on the wheel.

Here is one place I slipped up, and realized it later. Once stopped. I’m reaching in my wallet to get my license and insurance. If they think you might be reaching for something, they HAVE to assume it may be a weapon. It’s best to wait the few seconds. And NEVER reach into a glove box or under a seat unless you specifically get an OK from the officer. If you have a “Concealed Carry” permit, it shows up on screen if you are the registered owner. If not, KEEP YOUR HANDS VISABLE and let them know if you have a weapon.

5. Do NOT get out of the car

Sometimes this is common sense (why get out if you’re on I-75???), but sometimes in a safe place it may seem like a good idea. It’s NOT. Only get out of the car if/when the officer asks you to do so. Anything else could be seen as threatening, and that will go very bad, very fast. For everyone’s safety (and sanity) stay in the car.

6. Watch your mouth

That’s advice our parents gave us, and it’s good advice for a traffic stop. Keep in mind, the officer is DOING HIS JOB. He has not circled the streets looking for you. Really. When he approaches the car, don’t get angry because you assume you are getting a ticket, or you’re late, etc. You committed the traffic offence. Whether it was out of ignorance, carelessness, or even intentional, you were caught. Own up to it. Stay calm and do not get over emotional. Speak in a calm and normal tone. No yelling, cursing, or accusations. If you don’t think it’s valid, that’s why there is court. And BE HONEST. Don’t make up an excuse. Don’t lie or give wrong information. They will find out, and that will be ALL BAD.

7. Don’t be in a hurry

Don’t hurry the officer. And when you leave, don’t see how fast you can get from 0 to 60. Turn your signal on, and safely get into traffic.

Now as a bonus, here are some of the things the officer is thinking about. Some of you will not care. Pity.

1. Am I safe?
Is the location where you stopped at safe for them to attempt to talk to you?

2. Are THEY is a safe place?
Are you in any kind of danger because of where you stopped? In traffic, on a narrow shoulder, etc

3. Who are they?
An officer will “run your plates”, but this only turns up CAR INFORMATION and the REGISTERED OWNER. If you are driving someone else’s car, they do not know until they have your license. So, if you are driving your wife’s car, that may be OK. If you borrowed a buddy’s truck who has warrants or expired tags, it may start out interesting. It is unavoidable, but the officer needs to make sure they can go home to their family tonight. Here’s a key: Officers are TRAINED to assume that a traffic stop could be fatal. You could have weapons, could be drunk or high, could have just robbed a bank. And YOU have to prove otherwise. Be civil.Be calm. Be truthful.

Cops are human, just like you. They get dressed like you. They go to work like you. They want to see their families again, just like you. Just like you don’t want to get yelled at or harassed at work, neither do they. Keep these tips in mind. You may still get a ticket, but it was likely deserved. But it doesn’t have to end up with you in jail or disorderly charges.

My thoughts on the war declared against Police Officers

As I write this, there have been 14 officers slain in the line of duty, 9 from gunfire (plus 1 accidental). Once Officer David Moore is “official”, it becomes 15/10. In the last 24 hours, 11 police officers have been shot at (that we know of, likely numerous others). Deputies, officers, campus police, federal agents. What they all hold in common is “the thin blue line”.

Their job is ” not just protecting and serving. It’s preserving that buffer that exists in the space between what you think the world is, and what the world really is.” (I quoted that here) I’ve heard that death “is just part of their job” when it was remarked about another officer who GAVE their lives (they did not lose it, they intentionally gave it to protect their citizens). No one says that to tellers, convenient store clerks, or soldiers when they die. So why with officers? Is it because we do not care? Is it because we are so angry with the speeding ticket that we don’t feel we deserved that we can callously ignore the death of an officer? I really want to think I live in a better world. But it’s gradually proving me faulty to hope in humanity’s decency.

I’ve needed cops before. When I had a car stolen in 1996 in Moraine, they came out. When I panicked and could not remember my alarm code fast enough in Dayton in 2000, they came out then too. When my grandmother’s house was broken into all those years ago, the KSP came out. And the list goes on. I hope I never need them again. But they are there when life goes bad. And they are there for us all. They are the ones who have to inform you that a loved one was in an accident…and didn’t make it. They are the ones who have to investigate why someone hit a tree at 70 MPH and try to find the missing body parts. They are the ones who have to go to the crime scene and figure out that the drive did not see the pedestrian because they were going too fast because they were 5 minutes late. They are the ones who start CPR until the paramedics arrive (and I have SEEN that happen). They are the ones who have to calmly explain your ticket and explain that 52 in a 35 is speeding no matter how good the excuse, maybe after just getting shot at. They try to cram lunch/dinner and typing up endless reports and redundant paperwork into a 30 minute lunch (which they can NOT take if it is busy). They are the ones who are suffering with PTSD (its estimated that 15-20%) and feel it every time the computer sends them on a call. And they are the ones who have the horror they’ve seen haunt them in their dreams.

I don’t say this to make you feel sorry for them. As Officer Mark Bruns told me once, “Don’t feel sorry for us. We chose this life”. I tell you this to make you FEEL.

I’m setting my profile picture to the thin blue line. Not because I am a cop. I do it to honor the dead, as well as the living.

Also, for those of you who are Christians and believe in the power of prayer, here are some prayer points I posted last spring.

Funeral of Deputy Sheriff Suzanne Hopper

I just wanted to write a note about today’s events. I know it’s long, but it’s worth the read.It was an exhausting day, physically but more so emotionally.

I arrived at the Miami Township Police Department and was greeted my Major DiPietro. I went to the mall with Sgt. Nienhaus and we gathered there as a group before leaving. Met up with Mike Siney over there. We had somewhere around 75 cars there from various departments all over. I was already starting to feel honored just being in these people’s presence. A group of cops grieving and doing a mission of honor for a sister, and I was allowed to come along for the ride.

When we met up at the Navistar plant, only then did I realize the enormity of the support among her brothers and sisters in blue, most of who she never met or knew. Cops from all over the state. Later I’d find out, all over the country. We left there at 9:45 and took over an hour to get to the church, just a few miles away. Here is where the community support began to be noticed. Small children waving from car windows parked along the route. Businesses “Closed to Honor Deputy Hopper”. Veterans standing at attention saluting the procession. And hundreds of people waving at us from the side of the road.

Once we arrived at the church, to see the sea of officers in support of Deputy Hopper. Here is where I saw officers from the Chicago Police, Yonkers NY Police, Maryland and the Kentucky State police. The enormity of the moment began to set in on me. The first tears came here. Sheriff Kelly spoke magnificently, and did her son, and husband.

We waited outside to begin out journey to the cemetery. I talked to some of the guys from Huber Heights and Trotwood. Good to see familiar faces at such an event. Sitting in the parking lot in a sea of cars with lights flashing as the casket was brought out and as we followed one by one was a very moving experience. I can’t explain it to you. Watching the video won’t even give you the full affect. It took more than 2 hours to get to the cemetery. The route was lined with all sorts of folks out in the cold and snow holding up signs of support for the officers. The most moving part is the graveside ceremony. I was surrounded by a sea of blue.And felt the shot from the guns on the salute. And cried as the bagpipes played amazing grace.

I never knew (or met as far as I know) Deputy Hopper.But she knew about me. You know that from my previous note. But this was closer to me. She was one of my officers. Her loss caused some pain to me. Not like that experienced by family or the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. I can’t explain it to you. I can’t tell you how it feels. But these guys are my guys. And alot of the officers in the crowd had read emails from me. They wouldn’t recognize me, but they are my officers too. Pastor Pat has talked about Ministry in such a way that you have ownership over a city. That you feel it’s pain and that you hear it cry to you at night. These officers are that to me. I see them, hear them and feel the pain and sometimes frustration they feel. And when you stand and walk among them, it’s an indescribable feeling.

So I was taken back by the awesomeness of what I saw and felt today. It was good to see the support of a community, but why can’t they see that everyday, without the grief and loss? I also pray that I will never have to see it again. Their jobs are painful enough at times. Lets pray that they be spared form the grief again.

My thoughts – Clark County LOD – Deputy Sheriff Suzanne Hopper

Today is a dark day in the Miami Valley, particularly for Clark County. The CCSO had not lost an officer in the Line of Duty (LOD) since 1978. And this one was shot while TAKING A PICTURE OF A FOOTPRINT. I did not know her. Some of you reading this note may have. I’ve heard it say that she was a fine person, and a fine officer. Now, we have another taken from us. Officers across the Miami Valley (and Nationwide) are grieving tonight. Taken, doing what she loved, and taken protecting the citizens of Clark County. I’ve never been a cop. So I can’t tell you how it feels to have someone you know and talk to cut down in their prime my someone who doesn’t have the decency to fight fair, but shoots her in the back.

I’ve seen the Thin Blue Line in action…and closer than alot of people. I’ve heard the complaints, and witnessed what some of you do at traffic stops. And I’ve watched how they sometimes vent to (or sometimes at) each other. What the patrol thinks about “the brass”. I’ve seen why that officer in the rain looks angry as you try to drive around her patrol car. You may hear/seen that too. But I also know some of the WHY. Why do they think that way? Why is that cop so mad when you try to go around her car? The bottom line…they just want to go home safe. They just want to see their spouse, kids or parents after a long shift. They just want to make it through the day without having the hassle of giving you a ticket. And NO, they really do not want to give you a ticket. They would much rather you drive safely.

She died with no one there who loved her. No one in the last few minutes to utter her last words to. And it happens alot more than it should (161 deaths in 2010).

But this one is especially close to me. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office was one of the first local agencies to believe in me and my mission to support officers and firefighters. I did not know her, but she kew something about me. She read my note on the holidays. She knew that Dr. Mike was there. And that someone gave a darn that she was out there. On the holidays, in the rain, in the snow, in the cold, in the hot summer sun, after tornadoes. In court on days off, working odd shifts to cover for sick co-workers. Someone cared that she was giving up time with her family to protect countless other families.

So I stand up for them. That’s what I do. And I’ll do it until the day that I die. And if that’s not acceptable to you, then you can feel free to ignore, avoid or unfriend me. That’s your choice. But I’m going to stand up for them.