WV Civil Rights Lawyer

Police Misconduct, Civil Rights Law

People over “tactics”

I have previously posted about the police’s use of “tactics” and “training” to trump the rights of innocent citizens.  Basically, sometimes when you get pulled over, a cop walks up to your window with his hand on his gun; or yells at you from a distance when he could be talking to you; or orders you out of your vehicle; and pretty much treats you like a criminal.  The reason for this is supposed training and tactics which are meant to protect the officer.  Because everyone knows that a traffic stop is the most dangerous scenario for a police officer.

Well I say, too bad.  If you can’t handle pulling people over, then don’t pull them over.  Or don’t become a police officer in the first place.  98% of us don’t deserve the disrespect and insult of being treated like a criminal.  Take a look at small town police departments.  You rarely see such “tactical” behavior, and yet, you don’t see every other cop getting shot down on the side of the road.  Then, you take these larger departments, and its like pack behavior.  They start behaving with an air of inhumanity, almost like an army, and “protect and serve” becomes just “protect”.  For instance, you get pulled over for speeding, and then you get questions like, “do you have any weapons?”  This gets asked at pretty much every stop now.  And without some type of reasonable articulable suspicion, or probable cause to ask it, it’s just plain old harassment.  And the correct answer is, its none of your business if I have any weapons.  Its a free country.  Though that might just invite the officer to remove you from the vehicle and possibly arrest you.  If you really piss them off, they arrest you for “obstruction of an officer”, i.e., “contempt of cop.”  Or maybe assault of an officer – saying you somehow threatened them.  Then try and prove them wrong – prove yourself innocent.

There was an interesting article in the Charleston Gazette this morning, about a lecture which was given to the Charleston Police Department recently by Alex D. Huskey, superintendent of the Indiana State Excise Police.

Huskey asked the 16 officers at the class why the approach they have to many situations was tactical.

“It’s because of what you might encounter,” one officer said.

“Safety reasons. Everyone you run into is a potential threat,” another said.

Huskey agreed that officer safety is one of the most important things an officer must focus on, but he said that police across the country spend the least amount of time focusing on what makes people tick because they are too busy focusing on how to protect their own lives.

We are not enemy combatants.  We are free American citizens, and the situation should be rare where a government employee with a gun points it at you and issues commands.  But unfortunately, in the name of “officer safety,” we allow it to happen everyday.  A bank robbery suspect?  Fine.  But innocent motorists?  If they were speeding, give them a ticket.  But quit harassing people.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney.

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October 6, 2009 - Posted by | Police, Police Misconduct

1 Comment »

  1. Having never been pulled over with myself behind the wheel, I have none the less been a passenger in NUMEROUS vehicles and been pulled over. The ONLY time I did not find a clear cut case of harassment was NOT in the state of WV.

    I have, during all these traffic stops, seen just about every trick in the book. Pulled over for things like “left of center” when you had on your left turn signal and were turning left… Or “no turn signal” when you DID use it and it works just fine, thanks. I have seen the driver tricked into emptying his pockets by being asked “what’s in your pockets?”, then told after the fact “You realize I didn’t ASK you to empty your pockets, you did that voluntarily…” I also know someone who was pulled over for “defective equipment” and when pressured to tell exactly WHAT he found defective, the officer grabbed the lisence plate light bulb, jerked it out, and tossed it up into the ding weeds.

    In one years time the vehicle I was riding in got pulled over 12 times. One evening twice in 10 minutes. Why? Don’t know. They could never find any problem. “Random” check…

    During that year, we happened to be going to a friend’s house for dinner and saw a State Trooper pass going the opposite direction. So, we pulled over at the next wide spot and waited to see what would happen. Sure enough, he turned around and came back, pulled in behind us and turned on his lights. Seems it bothered him that we pulled over, so he “pulled us over” and demanded to know why we had pulled over. I told him we were pretty sure he was going to pull us over so we just saved him the trouble…. Made him mad.

    Comment by calhoununderground | October 6, 2009 | Reply


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