I’m writing this article in response to seeing a video clip of the arrest of Sandra Bland, which was immediately followed by people saying they were “nauseated” by the officer’s behavior. The purpose of this article is not to place blame on either party; as is the case in most conflicts, both people could have probably handled the situation better. The purpose of this article is to tell you how to avoid becoming the next news story. The police are working on getting their end cleaned up. Why don’t we work on ours?
I think everyone is forgetting about all of the police officers that have been killed in the news lately, as opposed to the stories of police brutality. So
here’s a general rule of thumb to avoid being the star of a Youtube video and the newest social hot button issue. If a police officer tells you to do something, just do it.
Sandra Bland wasn’t complying with a single thing the officer told her to do. There are so many people today who feel the need to give police a hard time about everything they do because of a few bad eggs that have been featured in the news. You have to remember that they are human beings, with families they want to return to at the end of their shift. They put their lives on the line every single day to try to protect the people of the towns in which they live.
If someone is combative with them, it’s usually because they are the ones breaking laws; and they are also usually the ones who are going to perpetrate violent acts against the police. If they haven’t broken the law then why is there a need to be combative or argumentative? Let the officer do his/her job and then go on your merry way. Think about this: If you choose to disobey a command by the officer than the police officer is left in an impossible position where he is either risking his life by not acting with enough aggression to control an escalating situation before it reaches a point of violence, or he looks like a bully on some dash cam. He asked her to put out a cigarette; that’s not an unreasonable request. In fact it’s common sense and common etiquette when pulled over.
Furthermore, while to her this may seem like a stupid request, for the police officer it is one that could save his life. Because if he can’t see her clearly, and his eyes are watery from getting smoke in them, he can’t react fast enough if she is reaching for a gun. Also, the police officer needs to ensure your hands are free and nothing distracts their attention or focus. These are two just two reasons for why a command or request is made. The police officer doesn’t need to inform you of why a request or command is made and for good reason too. Just add two or three argumentative people into the mix and imagine how difficult it is for an officer to stay focused on a task when someone is creating more tension.
Civilians don’t have to think about that stuff, but police officers have to think about all of that if they want to make it home to their wife and kids every day. I know it from days spent as a gunner, being the primary one responsible for the security of my team in Iraq. I know it from years spent training as a martial artist; where this is one of the first lessons any good instructor will give you. The lesson is that you use the force required to prevent a situation from escalating to the point of violence. Because often times the ones who don’t do so, out of fear of looking like a bully on some dashcam Youtube video, are the ones who don’t make it home to their wives, husbands, moms, dads, and kids at night.
So if you’re pulled over, try just being polite and complying with what they say. It’ll probably work wonders. I know I’ve never had a problem with any officer, provided that I gave them the respect they deserve. Please remember, if you got pulled over, it’s probably because you were breaking the law. And if an officer tells you to do something, do it. While you may not understand the request, it is probably meant for his safety and yours. They don’t want to have a situation escalate any more than you do, and they have no idea whether or not you are armed.
If police officers handle themselves in an unprofessional manner despite your compliance, the way to deal with it is through the proper channels, after the fact. While the situation is going on, just do what they say. This keeps both you and the officer safe, and out of the news.