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View Full Version : Is using an aggressive tone of voice a good tactic for police officers?


pfch1977
April 3, 2008, 12:47 AM
I noticed that the California Highway Patrol makes it a policy to use an aggressive tone of voice with just about everyone they pull over. They are always using a sarcastic tone and their behavior at times is simply downright rude and unprofessional to motorists.

Is using an aggressive posture for every encounter, even minor traffic stops, a good tactic?

For example, if CHP Officer Smith pulls over John Doe and gives him a ticket then John faces stiff fines, penalties from his insurance carrier and maybe even a mandatory court appearance with an aggressive judge. Does it do the officer any good to use an aggressive posture with John adding insult to obvious financial injury?

My opinion is that the CHP is ruining the credibility of local officers with the use of such tactics. It also angers the populace and increases the chance of violence against other officers.

MEDDAC19
April 3, 2008, 05:53 AM
It my understanding is that if you bump or hit their vehicles they go right to weapons and consider that it is a lethal force encounter. While in LA last year I watched footage from a traffic helicopter where a car that was stopped rolled back a few feet on a hill and tapped the patrol car. The LEO immediately drew his gun and fired on the car. I didn't think it should have gone to a shoot based on what I saw.

I think an aggressive tone should be used as the scenario dictates. A compliant subject should be treated as such and the less than cooperative should be handled with more direct instruction.

MLeake
April 3, 2008, 07:24 AM
.... results may vary.

Contrast in two police officer friends.

Both are soft-spoken by default, but can turn on the tone of voice if necessary.

One is very slightly built, and looks sort of like Ric Ocasek. One of the nicest guys you'd meet, but he has one of the highest rates of resisting arrest or assault on an officer in his department. He doesn't provoke people, but he doesn't look intimidating. B/G takes one look, thinks he has odds in his favor, and fails to realize he's dealing with a former state champion wrestler (145lb class) who is also the top shot in local department shooting competitions...

He might be better served by being more aggressive, earlier on. Hard to say.

The other officer is built like a bear, 6'2" and 240. Holds black belt rank in TKD and aikido. Country boy, worked ranches, fishing boats, etc. Very tough. Lowest rate of resisting arrest or assault on an officer in his department. He's arrested guys who ALWAYS resist without any trouble, by saying things like, "you know you'll be out in a few hours after you call your lawyer if you come in quietly, and I don't think either of us need to get hurt."

Low key works well for him.

Two cases don't make valid statistics. Anecdotally, though, if the officer is big and imposing, then speaking softly works just fine. If he isn't, then...

Cheers,

M

Spade Cooley
April 3, 2008, 07:51 AM
The voice and demeanor should be flexable and change with the situation. During my 25 years in law enforcement, I believed in the friendly, business like approach during traffic stops of Citizens. I believed in allowing all parents to save face in front of children, not chewing them out in front of the kids but talking to them privately. Even when you must take them to jail, go easy because of the kids. Some of them will not allow it and insist on going the hard way. Laugh people to jail whenever you can. Its much easier than fighting and saves wear and tear on the uniform.

Using the same causual technique with a felon when you are alone and giving him/her a false sense of security while you wait on a back up is also a good idea. Make them think they are getting away with it and will be let go.

But I once arrested a bank robber in a bar while I was alone. The pistol was put to his head and I told him I would blow his F*&$#@* head off if he moved. He didn't. The voice should fit the situation and the intimidation factor you want to put across. Also remember that the uniform in itself is an intimidation factor and can ease or set off a person.

AirForceShooter
April 3, 2008, 08:31 AM
The LEO on the initial encounter should be very agressive in order to control the situation. The message sent is "your in trouble, I'm in charge and Dpn't think about it".
The officer can easily "lighten up" as soon as it's determined this stop isn't going to present any danger. It's almost impossible to regain control if it wasn't there at the very beginning.
I don't blame the LEO's one bit. Traffic stops are scary.

AFS

jhansman
April 3, 2008, 10:46 AM
I live in CA (please, save the comments) and I have yet to have an encounter with the CHP where they were not polite and/or professional. I'm not saying you are wrong, only that to generalize about the field officers as a whole is unfair and inaccurate, at least from my experience. If I had to guess, it would be that they get more grief from motorists than the other way round. Just my $.02.

TwoXForr
April 3, 2008, 11:09 AM
Had an encounter with a CHP last year, I was speeding and he was professional and courteous and tone was moderate. (I did get out of it by letting my badge flip out when I was getting my Drivers lic, but that was after the intial approach)

Please quote your source. a policy to use an aggressive tone of voice with just about everyone they pull over. . Have you seen thier policy or been involved with thier training?

Or is this just your opinion. They are always using a sarcastic tone and their behavior at times is simply downright rude and unprofessional to motorists.

The Tourist
April 3, 2008, 11:14 AM
Not to me.

I've seen the best and worst in LEOs and FBI agents in my life. The bluff and bluster mean nothing to me.

For example, a cop who once arrested me was one of the most professional and polite officers I had ever met.

I was a collection manager for a local long-distance reseller a few years later, and part of my job was plant security. I wanted to consult with a professional who had "seen the elephant" and I went looking for a mentor. By that time my arresting officer had retired.

I hired him to act as my consultant.

Yankee Doodle
April 3, 2008, 11:16 AM
We were taught to be "civil" to all, "polite" to none. If you start out loud, you have no place to go after that except force. I would always speak softly enough that they had to pay attention to hear me. You can then escalate to volume, before force. If you appear confident enough that you don't have to start out agressive, folks usually realize who is really in charge. Sure, there are times where you know right away that you have a "problem" stop on your hands, but these are few and far between. Additionally, who the heck need civil complaints filed because you came on like gangbusters to some honest dude that was simply driving too fast.
Spade Cooley has it right.

grymster2007
April 3, 2008, 11:49 AM
I don't think starting aggressive is necessarily good policy and my experiences (though long ago) have not indicated that is in fact the CHP's policy.

As a young man, I had more than one encounter with the CHP. Most officers acted professionally and courteously, without coming off as aggressive. I think for the most part, they'll treat you fine if you return the favor. When pulled over, turn the car off, roll down the window, place your hands on the steering wheel, wait for the officer to address you and don't argue, it won't help.

The "keep your hands on the steering wheel" part is important. I had a rookie CHP draw on me when I reached for my wallet as he was walking up to the car.:eek: I won't make that mistake again.

BTW: I have only been stopped once in the last 25 years.

SDC
April 3, 2008, 11:57 AM
Voice and demeanour are the first stage in the continuum of force, and some officers use that as a "default" whenever they deal with anyone, because they think it'll head off anything physical before it gets to that point. Plenty of other officers think there's no reason whatsoever to be a dick unless the person you're dealing with gives you a reason to be a dick.

Mannlicher
April 3, 2008, 06:12 PM
I don't see where acting even more authoritarian and confrontational than usual will make a lot of difference in how things go during the 'interface' between cop and Citizen. Most folks fear and dislike the police anyway.

tlm225
April 3, 2008, 08:03 PM
When I first joined the force a "veteran" officer had these words of advice for us rookies. "On a traffic stop either take their money or their pride, but not both". Strange, I have spend a great deal of time studying my job and have never found anything that says one of my responsibilities is to take someones pride. (BTY, this officer later committed perjury in federal court and was forced to leave law enforcement for life. Personally I think he should have gone to prison.)

I believe in and instruct my officers to treat everyone one with as much dignity and respect as they allow you to. That said, a firm but professional initial contact establishes the officers position without antagonizing the citizen. How the contact goes from there is determined by the citizen's words and actions.

Needless to say that this suffices for the vast majority of situations but bear in mind that the officers initial demeanor will be very different for a high risk contact.

Spade Cooley
April 3, 2008, 08:15 PM
Let me tell you a true story.

In my younger days I was assigned to work a two man drunk wagon in the skid row of a major city. We fought drunks on a daily basis. Some were cooperative and some were combatave. We performed our duties with no slack and in a very agressive manner. One day we decided to try an experiment. We would change our M/O and treat all the drunks with utmost dignity. When we would arrest one of them we would make a formal introduction of ourselves and assist the gentleman into the wagon. As we picked up more drunks we would have formal introductions with all the other winos in the wagon remembering all of their names. They loved it and we didn't have a fight all day.

ATW525
April 3, 2008, 10:05 PM
Cops are human just like anybody else and there's going to be a bad apple or two. Even the good ones can have a bad day. However, I have to say that while I have no experience with the CHP, I have had aquaintences with similiar things to say about the cops out this way. I tend to believe that in most cases when a particular person has unpleasent encounters with a large numbers of LEOs, that the problem likely isn't with the officers.

Erik
April 3, 2008, 11:18 PM
"Is using an aggressive tone of voice a good tactic for police officers?"

Yes. Not using an aggressive tone of voice is another successful one. Somewhere in between is where most officers choose to pitch their initial contact dialogue.

Hook686
April 4, 2008, 02:53 AM
hmmmmm the few times I've been stopped by the CHP they have typically been cautious (one even put his hand on his revolver as he approached my car ... I was not real quick in stopping for his red light in his judgement), courtious, and calmly gave me a ticket. CHP officers might be overly cautious because of the 1970 loss of 4 officers concerning a traffic stop.

http://www.chp.ca.gov/html/newhall.html

I read quite frequently on these boards that it is better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6. Maybe CHP officers have a similar attitude. Why fault them for what is praised here ?

predator86
April 4, 2008, 05:22 AM
if you come up to me and the first words out of your mouth ar in a tone that is not nessacary/required.......i am going to look down on you, look down on WHATEVER uniform you are wearing and when you leave i will make some remark about what an ass that guy was and i hope he does not reproduce because this world does not need any more like him, i am a human being, treat me like one, there is no need for aggressive behavior or a smartass tone unless i am provoking the situation......

Mr. James
April 4, 2008, 08:39 AM
Spade Cooley,

I love that story. Simply brilliant!

I have been the source of law enforcement's tender affections more often than I care to admit. I have a couple of "horror" stories that were really nothing of the sort - just a cop putting the fear of God - and jail - into a snot-nosed punk running wild.

In my adult encounters, not all of them pleasant, the officers acted professionally and civilly - with the exception of one disgrace with the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C.

Even there, stop the s******ing, please, I met up with some really fine officers, including one who rapidly defused a rather ridiculous situation that could have gone very, very badly for me.

That officer, Robert Remington, was later murdered by a suspect while responding to a burglary of a business in Georgetown. Requiescat in pace.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/11171-officer-robert-remington

IdahoG36
April 4, 2008, 09:21 AM
For me, it's a respect thing. If I deal with a police officer that is nice and friendly, I am friendly in return. But when an officer acts like an a**, and is condecending, they will get it right back in return.

Capt Charlie
April 4, 2008, 12:11 PM
Voice and demeanour are the first stage in the continuum of force, and some officers use that as a "default" whenever they deal with anyone, because they think it'll head off anything physical before it gets to that point. Plenty of other officers think there's no reason whatsoever to be a dick unless the person you're dealing with gives you a reason to be a dick.

I view an aggressive tone of voice as a minor escalation in the use of force continuum, and depending on the situation, we don't necessarily start out at the bottom of the continuum.

There are certain areas of the city where a "sir", "please" and "thank you" are both effective and appropriate. There are other areas where those terms would be viewed as a sign of weakness. "When in Rome", so to speak ;).

But when dealing with the average joe on a traffic stop, I see absolutely no reason to start out aggressively in any manor.

As far as effectiveness, however, it's been my experience that an aggressive tone of voice takes a back seat to a confident tone. An air of self-confidence usually makes a customer step back and think before doing something stupid, and it works with people from all walks of life.

We've all heard the phrase, "don't look like a victim". We probably should add to that, "don't sound like a victim, either". ;)

bluedog
April 4, 2008, 12:32 PM
I am not LEO but like most I have had a few encounters with some in the past. There have been very few instances where the LEO I have encountered have not been professional and, for the most part, respectful and polite....I have always appreciated and admired this in LEO. Even though I certainly do not appreciate someone acting agressively towards me for no apparent reason, in the case of LEO I will always try to be polite and respectful to them regardless of their individual demeanor. I figure anyone can have a bad day and I have no desire to make their day any worse. I work for the military and in my duties as well as my personal life I have traveled to a few foreign Countries and have witnessed some foreign Police activities...there is no doubt that our LEO are vastly superior in terms of how they treat and respect their fellow citizens, as it should be....as it must be!

Redneckrepairs
April 4, 2008, 12:44 PM
The LEO on the initial encounter should be very agressive in order to control the situation. The message sent is "your in trouble, I'm in charge and Dpn't think about it".
The officer can easily "lighten up" as soon as it's determined this stop isn't going to present any danger. It's almost impossible to regain control if it wasn't there at the very beginning.

Absolutely backwards , one should start low key and escalate the force continuum as needed to keep control . Once you set a level of force you cannot go back down the ladder so to speak . An officer should be direct and courteous on contact , not loud and abusive . Spade said it best thusfar on the thread imho .

Erik
April 4, 2008, 04:13 PM
Several definitions of aggressive:

"having or showing determination and energetic pursuit of your ends"
"assertive, bold, and energetic"
"vigorously energetic"
"boldly assertive and forward"

A police officer may be all of those things while acting appropriately.

There are other, inherently negative ones, of course.

The answers of some, and the difference between them, should be viewed through that prism.

Redneckrepairs
April 4, 2008, 04:23 PM
Several definitions of aggressive:

"having or showing determination and energetic pursuit of your ends"
"assertive, bold, and energetic"
"vigorously energetic"
"boldly assertive and forward"

A police officer may be all of those things while acting appropriately.

There are other, inherently negative ones, of course.

The answers of some, and the difference between them, should be viewed through that prism.

Ok toto i am ready to go home now .....

Le should never be " aggressive " on an initial contact unless they are serving a court order ( warrant ) . Yes LE must be firm , Yes they must control the contact , this however does not mean a license to be an idiot at any time much less if one should be contacted for say a traffic violation or other minor infraction . IMHO its best to start out treating all with respect and only hand on a " tude " to the ones who make it necessary.

KMO
April 4, 2008, 04:26 PM
An officer's initial approach to nearly every law enforcement encounter should be to de-escalate, not to make a bad situation worse by their own trigger-happy demeanor. Professionalism has traditionally included the ability to gain compliance through a level-headed thoughtful approach, not through a "Barney Fife" badge-heavy approach.

Granted, our officers are dealing with a greater number of meatheads in today's society, and a steady diet of rough incidents is bound to have an effect on one's disposition on the job. Nevertheless, that's no excuse; dealing with difficult situations is a part of that job. If an officer is unable to handle the difficulties of the job without losing control of his own emotions, he should not be in a law enforcement career.

The Tourist
April 4, 2008, 04:49 PM
"Barney Fife"...without losing control of his own emotions, he should not be in a law enforcement career.

It's funny you should mention Barney.

During the early 1970's my club rode quite a bit all over south central Wisconsin. We were well known, in fact, many local law enforcement agencies knew us as individuals.

Sometimes a LEO might say to our president, "Look, I can tell by the sound that none of you guys even know what a 'baffle' is or does, so no burn outs on the main street. Don't do anything I have to react to."

Then we would go into a friendly tavern and make the bar-keep a wealthy man.

Other guys would come down at the first sparkle of chrome like it was D-Day. We called these guys "Barney Fifes."

When our club was organizing bikers to fight the helmet law, we rode pretty much throughout the state. A club from their city would organize a party, we'd go and watch the girls dance and have a few Mountain Dews. We'd build some alliances and talk about the helmet vote.

Before sundown, Officer Fife came blazing into the campground in his cruiser and he was immediately showered with over 500 bottle rockets. A clear showing of disrespect. What was he going to do, handcuff all 1,200 of us?

One of his offciers talked to my president and told the prez that he had a little Harley Sportster. Our club officers asked him what time his shift ended and he informed us around 11:00PM.

We gave the nice cop a "visitor's button" and welcomed him back a few hours later.

All you have to do is ask...

ClassicSWC
April 4, 2008, 04:58 PM
In a situation with a known violent felon, maybe there is a place for an "aggressive tone" right off the bat. But absolutely not with John Q. Citizen who only offense was slow rolling a stop sign or not knowing he had a blinker out. Sometimes leo's forget that they are there for us not IN SPITE of us. Having a "bad day" doesn't cut it either. Gee, if I had a bad day, would that get me off of a speeding ticket? Kinda doubt it. In some professions you just cannot have a "bad day".

To the good ones out there putting their lives on the line, a tip of the cap, a raise of the glass and a sincere, heartfelt "thank you". To the bad ones on ego trips, well they can go scat in their hat.

The Tourist
April 4, 2008, 05:36 PM
Some of my LEO friends tell me that there is noticeble "line" and it shows when it gets' crossed.

When a officer only has LEO friends, when all citizens are "potential felons" and perps and there is the increased use of tobacco and alcohol, you've got a guy that needs to be on the rubber gun squad for a bit.

While everyone seems to know this, domestic policing is being a "peace officer," not the military shock troops.

Some folks may think this is simply "tree hugging," but our former chiefs Couper and Williams stressed "community policing." And guess what? The animousity dropped, even in tough neighborhoods. As much as I would dearly love to see a gang-banger selling drugs in a school yard get his brain ventilated, I know that the singular act would close down comminication. Other work will undoubtedly suffer.

I call the police in my little town often for info and to report on our neighborhood watch program. They are not the enemy, and we all live more securely.

workinwifdakids
April 6, 2008, 01:37 AM
There's a reason CHP is known by other law enforcement as "The Auto Club with Guns." The ones I've run into have all been bullies with a badge and a gun: arrogant, rude, demeaning, and condescending. BTW, I've never been pulled over by the CHP. They have a very poor reputation, and deservedly so.

armedandsafe
April 6, 2008, 01:02 PM
There's a reason CHP is known by other law enforcement as "The Auto Club with Guns." The ones I've run into have all been bullies with a badge and a gun: arrogant, rude, demeaning, and condescending. BTW, I've never been pulled over by the CHP. They have a very poor reputation, and deservedly so.

I lived in San Diego for twenty years, rode a bike, carried every day, drove all over the southern counties with rifles strapped to the sides of the bikes and met many of the CHP officers and Sheriff's deputies. My experience with them is much different from those mentioned in the above quote.

Most of the officers I met were people. Professional, polite and doing their job. After doing their job, or, when met off the clock, they were fine folks. I did meet two Sheriff's deputies who were (*)holes, but they were such off the job, also. As I said, police officers are people.

Pops

pfch1977
April 6, 2008, 04:54 PM
The theory behind the "command voice" is to utilize a forth-right aggressive tone in a situation where someone has a weapon or when the person your dealing with is under considerable stress. The person who has a weapon wont usually hear soft-spoken words because of the stress involved so a "command voice" is needed so they can actually hear you.

Think about it. When you have a weapon or are under considerable stress, you can't really hear or are not paying attention to the people around you. So someone needs to yell at you in an aggressive tone to get their point across. When soldiers are in battle and engaged in a firefight, it usually takes several aggressive shouts from commanders to stop them from firing.

However, in routine traffic stops, where the officer is acting as the tax collector for the state and levying fines then a softer approach is probably the better approach.

Does the fire inspector go into the local bodyshop acting very aggressively shouting at the staff when a fine needs to be levied because the paint was lieing out in the back? In the same way, the officer should probably just collect the tax for the state, do their job and take off without emotion or circumstance.

I believe that the state patrols in many of these states such as South Carolina and California are too aggressive and bring a bad reputation on the hard-working locals who make every attempt to community police. The state patrols make it hard for a local officer to really build a reputation in their own community.

TwoXForr
April 7, 2008, 07:54 AM
Please answer the questions I posted earlier pfch1977

Please quote your source.
Quote:
a policy to use an aggressive tone of voice with just about everyone they pull over.

. Have you seen thier policy or been involved with thier training?

Or is this just your opinion.
Quote:
They are always using a sarcastic tone and their behavior at times is simply downright rude and unprofessional to motorists.

__________________


And you statement:
The state patrols make it hard for a local officer to really build a reputation in their own community.


And you give very little credit to the local population who are not able to tell the difference in uniform, vehicle and maybe even facial recognition of a local police officer. And in the same breath you show how little you think for a local police officer that the people he interacts with everyday will not be able to sway his own community by an attempted pleasent and neigbhorly manner.


And I dont know where this thread took a turn onto this subject after discussing intial approach and then it leaps to "command voice". I am not following your progression. Command voice is something utlitzed in high stress and potenially dangerous situations that demmand immeadiate action, not walking up and asking someone for the license and registration.

pfch1977
April 8, 2008, 11:36 PM
Policy is sometimes not in written form due to administrators not wanting or needing the liability of civil torts. There are certain forms of policy that are communicated verbally and informally by department trainers and higher ranking officers.

For example, the policy of racial profiling is not a written one along the NYC-Florida highway corridor, however, it is very much still in use.

You can tell when there is an unwritten informally communicated policy when all of the officers seem to act and deal with a certain situation in a similiar manner.

Therefore, when the Chief takes the stand, then he can say that he had no knowledge of the policy and the plaintiff attorney will not be able to produce a manual which states such a policy.

However, just because a policy is not in a manual or in written form does not mean it does not exist.

JohnKSa
April 9, 2008, 12:38 AM
You can tell when there is an unwritten informally communicated policy when all of the officers seem to act and deal with a certain situation in a similiar manner.Indeed you can, that is well stated.

However there is something missing.

How many officers in the pertinent jurisdiction act in the manner you describe, and what source did you use to determine this percentage/proportion/number?

TwoXForr
April 9, 2008, 08:00 AM
I agree with you the "enviroment" of an organization is highly important in how certian members will react to typical and even atypical situations.

But the larger the oganization such as the California Highway Patrol the policy usually sets the tone more than the local enviroment of each station or precient. Otherwise there would be widespread chaos as to what the standards are and how they are met. In smaller to medium size departments the informal method of letting persons know what is expected is much more prevelant.

But a smart attorney trying to win a case against a police department for not following thier own policy would not have to dig that deep to find other examples of the department violating its own policy. (usually in the most aggregous manner such as use of force)

An example. Policy states that once a person is placed in cuffs a certian form must be filled out indicating the offense of the arrest. But the enviroment is such that cops put kids in cuffs all the time and just transport them home. Well one day a cop gets sued because during one of these transports a kid was hurt.
The Lawyers come and the lawsuit begins.
When questioned on the stand the officer says the policy says one thing but everyone knows that the standard is something else. And he can name at least one officer (or two or three) who have violated the policy as well.

Now the agency can do one of two things: Admitt the actual standard is different then the policy, or hang the officers out to dry in some way shape or form.

Whatever happens this is going to be an agency that has greater problems then just this one incident.


But anyways, where is your proof that this is the "standard" of the CHP or is this just your opinion.

The Tourist
April 9, 2008, 12:38 PM
I disagree.

To me it's not the environment or the situation. It's the guy hearing the command.

After all of these years, I've had my belly fully of loudmouths, employers who haven't got a clue, drunks, Barney Fife's and idiots who act up public social functions. To me, the guttural tone is the mark of a man out of control.

It is the mark of a man who dearly needs to get his azz kicked.

Again, a domestic policeman is a "peace officer." A man who is so poorly trained and observant that he endangers the staff at his side is simply no man with whom I want to work.

A mouthy Fife who wades into a crowd of drunks, rioters or angry bikers because he is a Judge Dredd needs to be winnowed from the staff of professionals.

Put yourself in the mix. Imagine if it was your job to contain a large group of partying Mongols or Pagans with small town staff and a limited budget. The state police are fifteen minutes away and your area is too small for a Med-Flight style abulance service. It's just you and your partner, sent with the assignment to contain 75 bikers whose collective rapsheets exceed all of the arrests of the citizens in your jurisdiction.

Your partner decides to use a command voice. "Alright you thugs, I want a quiet, straight orderly line to form up right now, and everyone is going to stand still, shut up, and turn their pockets inside out. If I find anything, you are under arrest as of this second..."

At that moment, one of the bikers grins and says, "...I get the fat one..."

Well, truth is, I've heard worse. And remember, you are the one standing next to him.

Professionalism, professionalism, professionalism. I've also seen a cop wander into a bigger group and get smiles and compliance.

Erik
April 9, 2008, 02:32 PM
Nice scenario you've got there; quite the everyman standard. :rolleyes:

I agree though that it might be the person hearing things in addition, and even in lieu, of other factors.

Which is not to say that all interactions between LEOs and the general population go as they should, or that a given LEO handles every situation well, every time. Of course not.

But these kind of all LEOs or LEOs in a given agency treat people badly every time by policy statements are often times made by folks who'd be shocked to find out that many, if not most, people might not agree with them.

"How many officers in the pertinent jurisdiction act in the manner you describe, and what source did you use to determine this percentage/proportion/number?"

Also how many people encountered in the pertinent jurisdiction would agree or not, and what source did you use to determine this percentage/proprtion/number?

The "they always treat me and people I know poorly" argument is as much of an indictment of you and people you know as the officer or agency, after all.

Shadow walker1
April 9, 2008, 06:13 PM
I don't know how it is in LE agencies in general (and hate to generalize anyhow), but I do think what was taught to the SOs in my company is likely more common in LEAs than the opposite. I say this because our trainers (and most of our management staff) are LEOs or former LEOs from many departments nation-wide. My branch manager is a retired city police Chief of 30 years and our direct branch trainer is a former NYC detective and retired FBI agent.

Their training stresses the fact that initial contact between Officer and citizen(s) determines in part the direction the encounter will take, and that in their experience the majority of those encounters that turn bad do so because the Officer allows it to.

The recommended attitude by their training is one of confidence and authority of presence with-out being aggressive or confrontational. Politeness isn't a recommmended policy, it is insisted upon. Rude or arrogant behavior from the get-go is the surest way to defeat yourself. These folks even design our basic SO uniforms so color and appearance project trust and authority while downplaying force and aggression. Both force and aggressive posture are taught and used, but only when the situation dictates and no other alternative is available. They are NEVER considered first contact options though.

It's my personal opinion that the automatically aggressive, rude LEO is a stereotype promoted and projected by hollywood and mass media and based on the exception minority rather than the rule. Over-broad generalized statements like the original posters serve to perpetuate that myth until it in fact becomes what is expected by the general public.

These myths seldom play out in RL; the Dirty Harry/ Andy Sipowicz detective, the Barney Fife PO, the 'gun nut' NRA members who desire only violence and wanton killing......

TwoXForr
April 10, 2008, 07:02 AM
But at the same time Erik, there will always be a group that says that "they always treat me and people I know poorly". That is the nature of the job, anytime someone has unpleasent consquences for thier behavior, (a speeding ticket with fine for driving too fast).

Because lets face it, not all people are as mature as you and I and take a speeding ticket for what it is, punishment for breaking a law we knew about.

So the best law enforcement can do is keep that number as low as possible, and keep the ones who say "the cops are a bunch of thugs" to a minimun with polite, professional and respectful tones during less than ideal circumstances.

The Tourist
April 10, 2008, 10:09 AM
How many officers in the pertinent jurisdiction act in the manner you describe

Wisconsin is one of those areas where if you drive ten or fifteen minutes outside of Madison or Milwaukee you are in farm country. In fact, if I drive a short stretch of Hwy 19 to get to the four/six lane highway leading to a big Harley dealer in Sauk City, the entire drive is rural.

Some little burgs have found it easier to simply disband their city police forces and use county sheriffs.

Old Sportster gas tanks held 2.2 gallons of fuel. Before they needed a refill, you could actually be in towns like Mayberry and see cops that make Barney Fife look like a Quantico graduate. Not every jurisdiction has all of the toys and personnel of a CSI television show.

Stumbling across these idiots is simply a fact of life.

About a year ago we had a nineteen year old sheriff shoot and kill several of his friends at a party over some childish teenage fit of pique. Trust me, the Fife family lives on.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/worldnews.html?in_article_id=486260&in_page_id=1811

scorpiusdeus
April 11, 2008, 11:24 AM
Every contact is different. Every officer is different. Every shift is different.

No hard and fast rule covers all here.

I find it odd that you specifically mention the CHP. I've had at least 3 contacts with CHP during my years of driving, I've received a total of one citation, but deserved far more.

I've always found the CHP officers I've dealt with to be among the most professional officers I've ever met. Always polite, always smiled.

Is it possible you are not passing the "attitude test"?

Here's a few simple tips.

Pull over immediately, don't keep going hoping it's someone else.

When stopped, don't fidget. Keep your hands on the wheel and look straight ahead.

Roll down all the windows in your car to give the approaching officer a good view of the interior. If at night, turn all inside lights on.

Be polite and answer all questions honestly. Don't cop a negative attitude or argue.

Don't BS. They've heard it all.

I have had some bad contacts with officers form local departments. Still, I don't give them any guff. For all I know they just had to scrape a little kid off the road and notify the parents.

Unless there is outright abuse of authority and or a violation of my rights, I don't beef them. I've had bad days too and I've been a jerk when it wasn't warranted.

In all my years I've never had a contact with a LEO that was any worse than the little prick that ****** me off at Blockbuster yesterday.

The Tourist
April 11, 2008, 11:39 AM
Every contact if different. Every officer is different. Every shift is different. No hard and fast rule covers all here.

Sure it does. My enumerated rights trump your badge, your attitude, your "feelings" or the rough day your wife gave you.

I am a citizen of the USA, and frankly, I could give a crap about your ego and "command voice."

Give me the ticket, I'll sign it. But save the windmill fuel for somebody who cares.

As for "BS," I've heard it all before, myself. I've heard it on Adam-12, Hawaii 5-0, Full Metal Jacket, CSI...

My "job" as a citizen is not to make the tresspass on my rights an easy job for your shift. Your job is to make community policing conform to the statutues and enumerated rights as written. Unless you have a specially drafted Writ of Mandamus in your BDUs, signed by a judge, giving you magical powers to circumvent The Constitution, save me from the dinner theater.

Treat me with respect, state the charges, give me the ticket to sign.

You will be amazed that I will say "Thank you." I will tell my friends you are a decent cop and you will have built more bridges within the community than twenty Rambos.

scorpiusdeus
April 11, 2008, 11:59 AM
Well tourist, you can have a very bad contact with a law enforcement officer and never have your rights violated. It happens every day.

See, I'm speaking to folks who might just have forgotten to fasten their seatbelt, or maybe they were unaware they were 7 miles over the speed limit. Decent people who just made a little mistake. Many officer will just remind you of the law and send you on your way. No citation, all rights in tact.

Then there is the guy who cops an attitude, the officer might, as you say, have had his wife treat him like crap. Maybe he doesn't smile and maybe he's a little firm with you. You decide he's being a jerk and treat him like a jerk. all within your rights. The officer, with in his rights in in keeping with his job description decided to cite you for the seatbelt, the driving in excess of the posted speed limit and the missing rear view mirror that fell off a week ago while YOU were having a bad day. He gives you your citation, you get to pay it or fight it after taking a day off work only to loose in court, but boy you showed him. Didn't put up with his unfriendly behavior did you. Everyone leaves, rights in tact.

Yes, you have your rights, and the officer has his.

Knock yourself out.

I'm trying to give some folks what I think is good advice. If you disagree you can give that little speech the every officer, deputy, and patrolman you encounter. No skin off my nose.

You have a fine day sir. :D

The Tourist
April 11, 2008, 12:17 PM
Well tourist, you can have a very bad contact with a law enforcement officer and never have your rights violated.

Oh, I agree with every word you have written. This debate centers on the issue of a "command voice," a totally worthless idea that might get somebody killed.

Professional officers never use it. They don't have to. Period.

Let me demonstrate this. Turn-about.

Let's say you come to our Harley dealership on a Saturday. The place will be packed.

In your visit, you meet a guy drenched in leather, swaggering, smartin' off to the girls, dazzling about his mileage, his friends in The Angels, and the tremendous speeds he has driven a bike.

Do you think you have met me?

Of course not. Mileage. Pfffp. Dig up my oil-change invoices, I don't have to brag about anything.

As usual, I'm in the breakroom, dining on free tube-steaks, laughing with the other graybeards because we've had decades of fun and we all know it.

In fact, if you buy a new Sportster, it will be one of us who walks out into the parking lot and gives you a few suggestions. It's not going to be one of us who uses our "command voice" and berates you for being a newb or a poser. (We save those epithets for the guy drenched in leather.)

And how will you treat us? How will you relate this story to your wife when you get home?

You'll say to her, "Hey, I met some bikers today..."

Same with me. When I get home, I do the same thing, I tell my wife about my day.

"Hey, dear, I was a cruisin' a bit fast today on the bike, and I got a ticket. Met a cop I've never seen before. He was a nice guy...

Aquanewt
April 11, 2008, 07:58 PM
You can always escalate your tone or volume, but it is hard to go backwards. If you start out with a lot of 'bluster' you are stuck with it. There are times however that you start out with the "Command Voice" at top volume and let everyone know who is in charge.

Covert Mission
April 11, 2008, 08:01 PM
"Be polite, professional, and have a plan to kill everyone in front of you."

So it's been said, and there's truth there.

I'm only a lowly reserve LEO, but I want everyone to understand, through verbal and non-verbal communication, that I/we are in charge, make no mistake about it. The person stopped or being FI'd gets to choose, by their actions or demeanor, where things go. Easy begets easy, hard begets harder. Stern voice and words are part of the force continuum, and it goes up from there. My $.02

Dear Tourist,

About a year ago we had a nineteen year old sheriff shoot and kill several of his friends at a party over some childish teenage fit of pique. Trust me, the Fife family lives on.

A very unfortunate incident, to be sure. As I recall, and it's been a few months since reading, they didn't do a good job screening that kid for emotional stability. Though we let kids be soldiers at 18 or 19, I believe it's too young to be a cop...not enough direct supervision. The scientific evidence is that the frontal lobes of males don't finish developing until the age of 21-22, iirc, meaning "men" under that age are mentally underdeveloped, literally.

PunchPaper
April 11, 2008, 08:32 PM
I don't think I have had any contact with the police in well over 10 years.

I had a new work vehicle and I guess he thought I was going a little fast.
Kind of funny considering how fast people drive on I-95 in South Florida.

I behaved in a very non-threatening way and was treated politely.

Some encounters for traffic offenses in my teens and early 20's weren't as
pleasant but my attitude could have contributed to it.

(One in Philly had me looking down the business end of a gun!)
I was cut off by a cop and I pulled off and away. All of a sudden his unmarked car started aggressively following me. Not knowing he was a cop, I took
evasive measures to get away, thinking he was a nut. The very second he hit the lights, I pulled over, stopped and had my hands in plain sight on the steering wheel.
He comes up to the car with his gun pointed at me! (A 1st for me!)

I explained that I did not realize he was a police officer.
He made a big production and took my license and told me to follow him to the main police station (strange). He got another call, gave me my license back and went on his way.

I think that usually, if you, as a citizen, act courteously and non-threatening, it will be returned.

BTW, one of my neighbors is a retired cop. He is one of the most soft spoken
people I have met. He is not tall, just kind of solid.

He told me his ability to verbally defuse situations was good enough that
he never had to shoot or Taser anyone in his career.

Then there are people in my community (as seen on Cops!) who
continue to talk on the cel phone when a police officer has repeatedly issued her an order
to put the phone down and exit the vehicle.

If you are not going to comply and show the police respect, you better be ready for the consequences. In her case, several requests to put the
cell phone down were ignored and she got Tasered.

Just be cool and treat the police with respect and you will be fine, IMHO.

scorpiusdeus
April 11, 2008, 11:10 PM
Oh, I agree with every word you have written. This debate centers on the issue of a "command voice," a totally worthless idea that might get somebody killed.

Professional officers never use it. They don't have to. Period.

Sir, you are simply wrong. Well, maybe if you ARE from Mayberry that might apply, but if I pull down an ally at 01:00 hours and come upon 5 MS13 bangers stripping a BMW, I can assure you the first words out of my mouth are not going to be "hey fellas, what's up, may I please see some I.D."?

Some of these guys have done a nickel or more up at the gladiator academy and are using every second to determine if they can 1) run 2) overpower me or 3) drawn down and fire on me.

I can assure you that the Mr Rogers approach will only encourage them to make a move faster than being drawn down on and being told in my best drill instructor voice that they need to get on their knees, cross their legs, hands on their heads facing away from me until backup arrives.

In MANY situations your idea might apply, but to say "never" shows a certain Utopian naiveté

As I read you are a bike rider, I can sort of understand your point of view. I'm very aware of the propensity for various LEOs to immediately assume anyone on a Harley is a felon on probation. A large number of motorcycle riders in an area is immediately seen as a biker gang blowing into town.

I don't see that much around here. Most of our "biker gangs" consist of teachers, lawyers, doctors, business owners just enjoying the freedom of cruising down the road with the wind in their face. The vast majority of LEOs here understand that. Even the occasional HA or Mongol doesn't kick up much fuss in these parts.

The Tourist
April 12, 2008, 12:40 AM
Even the occasional HA or Mongol doesn't kick up much fuss in these parts.

Corner one of them and insult them in your best "command voice."

Let us know how it all works out.

JB Books
April 12, 2008, 01:07 AM
Having represented some of these "lads in motorcycle clubs," I second what Tourist says. I'll look for your answer in 6-8 month after your broken bones heal and your jaw is unwired.

Having said that, I have represented Mongols, Outlaws, and Bandidos for wrecks, they or family members, were involved in. Contrary to the A&E specials that seem to air every week, I found them to be great clients. They are respectful of my legal assistants and support staff, show up for appointments, and usually are a pleasure to represent. The fact they tend to be repeat clients and seem to go out of their way to refer friends and family members is an added bonus.

nemoaz
April 12, 2008, 07:41 AM
So they are respectful murderous, rapist, drug dealers, thieves and burglars?

You are apparently very naive, counselor. There's a reason that Angels, Mongols, Outlaws, and Bandidos kill the people who attempt to leave. But, all's well so long as you get your cut, right?

The Tourist
April 12, 2008, 12:02 PM
They are respectful of my legal assistants and support staff

And there's an obvious reason for that. We are "just guys" who ride motorcycles. We react as treated. We don't suffer fools.

Besides, the guys who are drenched in leather are not much of a concern. They're nothing to worry about, they're playing dress-up.

And you want to know the dirty little secret? They are dressing up in the manner in which I dressed in the 1960's. They believe our clothes and ideals are frozen in time.

To make my point in this debate, let me relate a common occurance. Let's say I'm out for dinner with my wife in a cage. A friend of mine might see a bike and what to look and schmooze with the rider. Sometimes they express caution.

I take them over to the bike, introduce myself and tell the guy I'd like info on the bike. What follows is about ten minutes of friendly conversation. One time the biker and I showed each other pictures of our lap dogs.

Now apply that idea to this debate.

Unless the biker is doing something like pitching a juke-box through a plate glass window (yeah, it happens) he's probably sitting on his keester having a brew and chatting up a delightful young lady.

If he's rioting, then arrest him. If he's hustling a girl then your "command voice" makes you a Fife.

Our culture might be different, but our needs and wants under our enumerate rights are identical and your job description as a sworn officer does not change.

JB Books
April 12, 2008, 12:16 PM
Nemoaz are you using your commanding voice now?

Oh yes, I am Pollyana. The world is a bright and sunny place.

What I was referring to was my own experience with some of these folks while representing them for personal injury cases. I have no illusions they are choir boys and some may very well have been convicted of a crime. I don't care, if they are the victims of an accident caused by someone else's negligence, they have the same right to seek legal redress as anyone else.
Not my place to set myself up to think I am better or worse than anyone else unless either I have specific knowledge or experience about an individual. Also, my job is not to be anyone's moral compass.

Quite frankly, some of these guys and their families are a hell of a lot easier to deal with than some so-called religious people who praise Jesus on their answering machines, only to cuss at my staff and malingerer thinking that their wreck is a lottery ticket. I actually had one Bible college grad tell me Jesus told her she would get rich through her wreck. She later called one of my legal assistants an obscene name because we refused to put the arm on a doctor to write her a script more more pain meds.

And yes, all is well as long as I get my cut. The bigger, the better.

Covert Mission
April 13, 2008, 12:29 PM
Some of these guys have done a nickel or more up at the gladiator academy and are using every second to determine if they can 1) run 2) overpower me or 3) drawn down and fire on me.

Interesting point, sir. Anyone who's spent time on the street in hardcore gang territory knows this. Of course, the libs will accusing you of "profiling" when instead, it's good police work and knowing your "clientele". While you can't assume someone you stop, who looks like John or Mary Q. Citizen, isn't instead a bankrobber, or just murdered their spouse or whatever, you can often identify the hardcore BGs immediately. The "wannabes" and lookalikes have to prove themselves otherwise, but are treated with extreme caution until then, a choice they've made for themselves by mode of dress and demeanor.

The best cops I've known exude self-confidence without being cocky, authority without being authoritarian, strength through strong presence, and tell their contacts "I am in charge now. We can take this to any level you choose" and maintain control and prevail, using the appropriate level of force and be totally professional the whole time. The people who accuse them of being "jackbooted thugs" have issues...some people just hate any kind of authority, no matter how professional. That's a hard way to go through life.

Covert Mission
April 13, 2008, 12:46 PM
Having said that, I have represented Mongols, Outlaws, and Bandidos for wrecks, they or family members, were involved in.

Even criminal have rights, of course. I just don't like outlaw bikers, period. The biggest organized crime group in Canada, for example, is the Hell's Angels. The Bandidos and Mongols, et al, are what they are...criminal gangs, no debate. Maybe your clients have been polite and well-paying, but in the end they are still criminal scumbags, and I couldn't be a defense lawyer or represent them for that reason. My personal blind spot. I don't like criminals, great clients or not, though I do understand they have the right to redress if wronged. Someone else would have to represent them other than me, I think.

I do hear you, re: your other examples of bad clients. I'm sorry some of them call themselves "Christian" when they behave like that; they are not. Christians--and I call myself one--are never perfect, but there are too many hypocrites in the world, and too many Christians among them. Of course, we are commanded to "love our neighbor" even if they are Hell's Angels...no easy task. Hate the sin, love the sinner. They will he judged by a higher authority than Man's Law, I believe, and I wouldn't want to be them. Those who work in prison ministry have my admiration, working with the worst of the worst.

JohnKSa
April 13, 2008, 01:03 PM
Ok, this one is now officially off topic.