Sunday, December 24, 2006

Lecture 4: Police and Public Control ('Men In Blue')

Lecture 4: Police and Public Control ('Men In Blue')
Deviant Survival Guide
Copyright 2006 by drewkitty

[Author's Comment: May I add that I'm very gratified to see the responses I've gotten from people . . . ego-boo is good for the kitty.]

The predominant agent of formal social control is the police officer.

To quote my father, "The streets are owned by young arrogant men with weapons. In an anarchy, they are barbarians. In a feudalism, they are warriors. In a monarchy, they are soldiers. In a democracy, they are police."

The (mostly) young and (nearly all) arrogant young (mostly men) with weapons in this discussion think of themselves very differently from how they are perceived by others.

As I touched on in my last lecture, you see a cop and you see power with a capital P. A handgun on the hip. The Motorola radio with the direct link to anything the cop thinks he needs -- a warrant check, backup, paramedics, a tow truck, the SWAT team, the National Guard . . . whatever.

To quote "Monster" Shakur, "We knew that the average pigmobile carried two guys with .38 revolvers and a shotgun. We had more firepower than that under our beds, for God's sake. But when the red and blue lit up, we rolled over and showed our backs like scared dogs."

But what you don't see -- and what is carefully concealed from the average person -- is that the beat cop is a harried peon, hands tied by rules and procedures and clever sergeants who were beat cops once and know all the tricks.

In any predator vs. prey confrontation (and never forget that to a police officer, a deviant is prey), the predator is running for his dinner, while the prey is running for its life. This means that believe it or not, you always have the edge. As long as the cop stays bored, you have the edge.

But if he gets a "hard-on" (the phrase often used by police officers to describe a hunch that he's dealing with a criminal), all Hell is out for noon. You are now in the position of disadvantage.

I would hasten to add that anyone silly enough to engage a police officer on the level of physical force is quite literally taking their life in their hands. You will lose. You may be seriously injured. You may be killed. And it will all be 100% legal as breathing. A police officer is trained to assert physical dominance and control over what s/he perceives as a potentially deadly situation. That means that they will -- in fact, must -- resort to a overwhelming barrage of physical and psychological coercion techniques to overcome any resistance. This sounds fine until you reflect that it very well may mean a cut on the inside of your right ear from the front sight of the officer's handgun.

You should only literally run from the police under one condition -- if you genuinely believe that if you are caught, you will be seriously injured or killed. This is an extremely rare and difficult situation, and you should consult with legal counsel as soon as you can to arrange for your prompt and proper surrender with witnesses and/or cameras running. Your odds of escape are not good. I am not teaching people how to run from the police; police pursuit shows do a good job of that. A suspect has a small chance of breaking contact if the physical description is poor, the officer is slow off the mark calling for help, the dispatcher is having a bad day and the air unit(s) are unavailable. Otherwise, the suspect is properly described as the arrested party -- with additional charges pending.

There are several excellent guides on how to behave yourself in an interaction with the police. I will not link to them here. Basically, it all comes down to the following two basics:

1) the cop is scared of you, and by relieving his fears, you avoid the possibility of violence

2) the cop is never your friend, and by trusting him, you guarantee that you will go to jail

The implication of (1) is that you should do everything you can to show that you are being polite, thoughtful and civilized. When you are pulled over, pull over as far right as you can, roll down driver's and passenger's windows, turn on the interior light, turn off the engine and headlights (turn on hazards if you are on the freeway), and put your hands in plain sight on the steering wheel. This creates the perfect traffic stop, puts the officer in a good mood, and makes it more likely that you will skate. Apply similar thoughtfulness if the officer is on foot, if you call out for an officer's help, etc.

The implication of (2) is that you should shut your Goddamn mouth!!! You may be the best bullshit artist since Jesus H. Christ walked the earth over two millenia ago, but you do not know the law as well as a cop does, nor do you have the practice at detecting lies that he does. Be civil, answer questions briefly but honestly, do not volunteer anything, and last but not least, if he asks you for permission to do anything, say something this:

"My buddy, who's a cop, told me that I should always say no, and that you'd understand."

Now if he does it anyway, that's fine. Let him. Never resist police actions of any kind. Say out loud, "I don't consent to this. You do not have my permission." but do not resist physically in any way, even slightly, unless you like the taste of blood mixed with asphalt.

If the traffic stop / consensual encounter / field interview / etc seems to not be going well, you can always ask if you're free to leave. If you are, shut up and leave. You win.

If you are not, you are either detained or arrested. Either way, shut up. If you're detained, the officer doesn't have probable cause for an arrest yet. Anything you say or do, including nothing, could justify that PC and end up in your arrest. So do and say nothing if you want to sleep in your own bed tonight. You are losing.

If you are arrested, you have said the last word you will say other than such trivia as "Excuse me, these cuffs are too tight, could you loosen them just a little?" You will not talk your way out of your arrest. Your lawyer will, at several hundred dollars per additional word that you say. So say nothing at all until the custody officer hands you the phone to make your three phone calls. You have lost.

If you are being asked questions after you are arrested, you will say the magic words.

The magic words are "I will not answer questions without my attorney present."

You will only say the magic words.

I am not kidding in any way.

A police detective is a person who has demonstrated bullshit skills that are impressive to fellow cops. You will not attempt to talk to a police detective unless you are looking forward to a long stay in prison. Are we clear on this? If there is one thing I want you to take from this lecture series, it is the magic words.

Now that we've covered the worst case scenarios, we can focus on what causes cops to get that hard-on I discussed earlier:

  • real or perceived threats to their own safety (!)
  • weapons, drugs, other illicit items
  • behavior that does not fit the neighborhood
  • evidence that you are a potential danger to yourself or others
  • behaviors that interfere with other people's rights or lawful business
  • unusual clothing, demeanor or oddities of style
  • bad attitudes, rude language, "mad dog" behaviors
  • excessive fear or trembling
  • a pretended casual attitude

These are the same indicators taught in police academies. So if you can avoid any of these, and you are not commiting any crimes, you are probably going to walk. Do I need to mention such trivia as current license registration, valid driver's license, no weapons or alcohol in the passenger compartment, etc??? I hope not.

I am assuming for this lecture series that your deviance is lawful in nature. If your deviance necessarily involves criminal acts, I strongly suggest that you either find a lawful way to get your kicks, or a safer hobby.

That said, you are going to want to have a mundane excuse prepared for any unusual behavior.

Scenario: you and a group of weird friends are going to night-hike up a canyon. You are stopped by the sheriff at the turn-off road.

Which excuse do you think will fly:

1) we're just out for the night air

2) my buddy wants to test his new night-vision glasses out

3) none of your business, we're just exercising our rights

4) we're visiting some friends

5) well, to be honest, we're out looking for ghosts

1) is a challenge to the deputy's ego. You know it's a lie, and you don't respect him enough to tell him a plausible lie.

2) is a more plausible lie, until you think about it for ten seconds. Why not test it out at home? Why do you need night vision gear? What are you, peeping toms? This stinks of falsehood.

3) Hope you like the taste of asphalt. 'Nuff said. The Constitution is a wonderful idea, but it will not save your ass at 3 AM. You are challenging the deputy's ego and implying that you're going to be non-compliant. Just who do you think is writing the arrest report? You?

4) works only if it's true. What are your friend's names? Where exactly do they live? Mind if I give them a call?

5) sounds crazy. But in the field, I used it and it worked. Because it was in fact the truth. Said in a slightly embarrassed way, "I know this is weird, but . . ." if it's true, it has the ring of truth. And if it's lawful, it may just fly. But be ready to back it up with facts and details (preferably without compromising OpSec.)

By the way, many police officers are fellow deviants. I loved the scene in that Presidents movie where the President is thanking the Secret Service sniper who saved his life, and saying what an honor it is to meet him. The sniper coughs discreetly and says, "Sir, we met before. Um, over the rainbow." (I.e. at the gay pride rally they hid in earlier in the movie.)

As long as you keep it within the law, cops have a great deal of tolerance for strangeness of all kinds. Some of them are weirdness magnets themselves. Most of them have seen everything. The occasional cop with an issue typically gets an attitude adjustment from their FTO or sergeant. If you are really having a problem with an officer, and you're sure it's an "-ism" issue, ask him to call for back-up and/or his sergeant. This itself may bring him to his senses.

Last but not least, what do you think the police do for a living?

They are society's clean up crew, social workers with guns. If the problem needs to be fixed, is making a mess, people are screaming or blood has been spilled, it's a cop problem. And they will act to fix it, just as much as it needs to be fixed. 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

People live for this job. People die for it, too. When you pick up a phone and dial three digits, highly trained and very brave people come running to help total strangers who mostly hate their guts.

Do you really think that the average cop doesn't have anything better to do than harass some mall rat or punk? Of course s/he does. But you're there, and you look like a safe, helpless target for a little aggression.

Far, far better to take the snide comment and slide on by than to end up in jail. But if you really want to get jiggy with it, you can do the whole police complaint, lawyer, media thing. And Goddess bless you if you do, but don't ask me for help. Go look at instead.

Don't be a cop problem. Live your life. Stay under their radar. Respect other people's rights.

Be respectful to authority but be who you are.

"Speak truth to power." Just not too much of it.

In the next lecture, we talk about the agents of social control who really run your life. Hint: you call them "boss."

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