This topic has always bothered me to a certain extent, but more so recently after I found myself in an alley, gun drawn and on a suspect. The reason my gun came out that night was due to the fact that the suspect simply would not comply with my verbal commands. There were other circumstances that led to my gun being drawn such as the fact that there was a victim bleeding on the ground and the suspect was wearing loose-fitting clothing and I was unsure whether or not he had a weapon. However, that is beside the fact that he was not complying with my verbal commands.
I am baffled that, when approached by three officers who were giving loud, clear and authoritative commands to “get on the ground”, he refused three separate times to follow our direction, leading to us falling back on a lethal force option. What the public needs to understand is that this is NOT the time to ask questions of the police. It is not the time to refuse commands and it is not the time to plead your case. We will eventually get to that point with you. Innocent, guilty, or suspected of a crime, if we tell you to do something, you DO IT. For all you know, our suspect may not be you, but may be standing behind you. We may be ordering you to the ground for your safety. We may be ordering you to the ground because we are trying to see or advance past you to the person we really want. We may be ordering you to the ground because you fit the description of the suspect. Trust me when I say that we are trained, we know what we are doing, we are not telling you to do something because we have no cause for it. If you want to remain safe while interacting with police officers, all you simply need to do is comply. If your own personal safety is your main concern in these instances, then do the smart thing and do as we say. You are at a significantly lower risk of having force used against you if you simply comply.
Many will argue that police are infringing on 4th Amendment rights to a higher extent in today’s environment. I will submit to you that we are responding to a small percent of the public’s noted increase in aggression towards the police. We are ensuring your safety, along with ours. We do not know you, as you do not know us. However, you know more about us than we know about you. You know we are the police. You know that we have been trained. I ensure you that we have been trained. We do not wish harm upon you. We do not want to hit you, we do not want to tase you, we do not want to mace you, and we do NOT want to shoot you. That is why we simply ask for compliance.
I am not sure what is being taught in schools, society or by parents today that leads to individuals refusing to comply with commands of the police. I was always taught to listen to the police. I was always taught to treat everyone with respect. As a police officer, I still hold onto these virtues. I still make every attempt to treat everyone with respect and I still, even as a police officer, listen to the police when being told to do something. If you are guilty and you have been caught, “man up” and take responsibility for what you have done. You claim to be a man of integrity and honor; prove it.
The public is not our enemy, nor do we see it that way. The public is our ally. We wish to keep it this way. Compliance comes in many different forms. It may be in the form of cooperating as a witness and it may come in the form of doing as we ask in an emergency situation. It is understandable that you may be scared when approached by the police. I can remember when I was scared every time I saw a police car driving behind me. Yet, I never had a thought of non-compliance. Understand that we are scared too. We are human, just as well as you are. If you think it is fun to pull out a gun, think again. We are left with a range of emotions that we must deal with after a high intensity situation. A range of emotions that a normal person need not deal with. A range of emotions that often lead us into personal turmoil.
If you want to guarantee your safety during an interaction with the police, then simply comply, it’s just that easy.