I generally refrain from commenting on the specific actions of fellow law enforcement officers, as I found early on that doing so usually always has a downside and rarely results in positive feedback. If I support the officer, I hear claims of the “blue wall” at work and if I find fault with the officer I hear complaints that I am not supporting a fellow LEO. So you see it’s a no win situation. For those reasons I will not be analyzing the Texas traffic stop of Sandra Bland, which led to her being jailed for several days, during which time she apparently hanged herself. But I would like to address another “expert’s” comments on the subject.
In the days following Bland’s death, the radio talk shows were inundated with experts willing to provide their own interpretation of the stop itself, the legality of the arrest and with whom responsibility for her death lies. During one such segment, a gentlemen introduced as “a lawyer and former police officer” claimed that Ms. Bland was guilty of nothing more than “contempt of cop,” meaning being belligerent to or questioning the officer’s authority, and that this means the stop was illegal. Therefore, the DOJ should be called upon to investigate this as a possible civil rights violation.
If you’ve read my earlier columns, you properly understand how I feel about DOJ civil rights investigations (AKA witch hunts) especially under their current leadership. But let’s leave that for another day, after such an investigation actually takes place. Let’s instead discuss this “contempt of cop” defense.
Yes, one of the reasons Ms. Bland found herself in handcuffs and later a jail cell instead of driving off with a warning was contempt of cop. No, this is not an actual violation that exists in any penal code nor is it valid grounds for an arrest. But it is a blatant show of disrespect and grounds for an officer, such as the trooper with Ms. Bland, to reexamine an earlier decision to issue a warning and instead issue a citation or make an otherwise legal arrest. FYI – traffic violations are arrest-able offenses in many jurisdictions, including Texas.
Many critics look at this “contempt of cop” as a citizen being penalized for exercising their rights. That depends on your point of view. Those critics, and it appears it’s a growing number of citizens, believe it is their right to treat officers in any manner they deem fit and that those officers have no choice but to put up with it because “it’s their job.” The officer’s viewpoint is a bit different. Every citizen has the absolute freedom to exercise their rights and sometimes that includes using cursed language toward an officer. That officer is expected to take a great deal of verbal abuse without recourse. But this only goes so far and is not a blank check.
Every citizen stopped by the police, whether for running a red light or murdering their neighbor, is hoping for some degree of leniency from law enforcement. In most cases, officers are more than willing to grant that leniency to those who are deserving of it and the first sign of being deserving is to NOT attack the officer for stopping you in the first place! A warning is never a right and is always a favor you are hoping the officer will grant to you. Just as with any favor, the first step in getting that favor is asking in a polite and appropriate manner.
The moral of this rant is simple. When stopped by the police, you have ceased to be in control. Accepting that fact is not being a sheep, it is accepting the situation as it is. If you wish to leave the encounter with a warning or reduced charge, then ASK for it but do not demand it. Chances are, you will be surprised how different this stop ends compared to others you may have had.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.
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