Cop Tips: Eight Things Cops See & Hear
September 6, 2016 (Fault Lines) – There are many things that police officers see that the general public does not, things that people who are not on the street do not understand. Sure, you can intellectually teach someone these things, but cops understand these things at a gut-level, not as an intellectual exercise, for a good reason.
Some of these things keep cops alive. Some of them are just from doing the job for years. All of them are obvious to cops and not obvious to the public.
Let’s look at some of these.
- Cops get real nervous when someone “blades” away from them when the cop starts to talk to them. Blading away means that you are turning one side of your body away from the cop, normally your right side. It is what cops are trained to do to protect their gun from people, to put their body in between it and a potential threat. So when someone does it to them, instead of the normal face-to-face conversational style of most people, cops get nervous. It is also an indicator of fight or flight response, meaning you may be fighting or chasing the individual in the next few minutes. Most cops dislike either of those options.
- Red lights and siren means that the cop is trying to get somewhere, fast. It may be to help another officer, or to try to get to a domestic violence victim before her insane ex‑boyfriend beats her to death, but he needs to get there fast. Slamming on your breaks in the middle of the road is not helpful, and merely makes you an obstacle. Yes, most cops have been through an emergency driving course but that doesn’t mean that they want to exercise those skills because you decided to stop in the middle of the road. Pull over to the side. It’ll make the cop happy and possibly save both of your lives.
- No, you didn’t only have “two beers.” When you say “two beers,” this is what cops immediately see in their mind. Your driving did not indicate that it was likely you only had two beers, your performance on the field sobriety tests confirm that, and your breath or blood test is going to show a much higher alcohol content than is possible from two beers. Besides, why answer the question of how much you’ve had to drink? The cop is not going to use it to help you, he’s going to use it to try and put you in jail. Keep your mouth shut and don’t answer questions.
- Speaking of shutting up and various other constitutional rights, you really don’t know them as well as you think you do, and some things you believe to be right are absolutely wrong. For example, no, I did not read you any Miranda rights, tell you about your right to remain silent, or to have a lawyer present during questioning, etcetera. There is a simple reason for that. I personally saw you commit the offense you are being arrested for, and I’m not asking you any questions about that offense. That means I don’t have to advise you of your rights, because I’m not going to ask you any questions, and yet I know you’ll continue to talk. On video. About the offense.
- No, I really don’t need a warrant to search your car. Why? Because when you rolled the window down and the marijuana smoke pours out like a Cheech and Chong movie, when there’s a blunt in the ashtray and a one‑hitter in the center console, that provides what we cops know as probable cause and the Carroll case provides the exception to the warrant requirement. The rolled up joint tucked behind your ear is also a clue.
- If you speak English and you do not speak Spanish, but look Hispanic, don’t try the “No hable” It doesn’t work, for a number of reasons. A smart-ass high school student tried it on me one time, and as soon as he got the words out of his mouth, I responded:
Usted ha violado una ley de tránsito. Dame tu licencia y tarjeta de seguro, por favor.
The dumb look you gave me at that point, combined with the hysterical laughing of your girlfriend, pretty much tells me that you really didn’t think this through all the way. At least she didn’t have any unpaid tickets that had gone to warrant. And she has a license, and now she has your car…
- If a cop is directing traffic at a special event, the road ahead of you has barricades, or cones, or is otherwise blocked off, and he is directing you to turn, just do so. Asking him if you can go straight, past the barricades, or telling him that you “need” to go straight, isn’t going to convince him that you need to go that way. It’s just going to convince him that you’re an idiot. He’s not going to want to discuss it with you either, and after several hours of standing on hot pavement breathing exhaust fumes, he’s going to be rude. Just go where he tells you to go, they have really thought this out and they do have a plan to get you to the event.
- Finally, if you are driving a stolen car, we really can figure it out. If the rear license plate has a bunch of bug splatter on it, we know it is a stolen front plate. The towel that you have draped over the broken steering column is also a clue, as is the large flathead screwdriver in the center console. The headlights being stuck on highbeam is also a clue. Telling us you borrowed the car from your best bud, Skeeter, when you don’t know his real name, address, or phone number, is just going to dig the hole deeper.
These are just a few of the stories that all cops have. There are plenty more, like faking medical emergencies, who you (or your husband/father/etc.) are, puppy emergencies, or whatever. The cop has likely heard it before. And he believes it about as much as a parent believes their kid telling the parent that they (the kid) didn’t do it. Yeah, right.
 Yes, I know that some of the states use blue lights only.
 It’s not as fun as one would think—a large part of the course involves backing a full-sized cruiser through a course barely wide enough for a Mini Cooper, under a time constraint. Without hitting any cones. Plus, squad cars are made by the low bidder, and things break.
 All of which have happened in front of me.
 Seventeen-year-olds are adults in Texas and subject to adult arrest if they don’t pay their traffic tickets.
 “You have violated a traffic law. Give me your license and insurance card, please.” I don’t speak Spanish, but most officers know some basic phrases, like this one, that they can spit out when necessary.