From a Police Officer: These Are the Behaviors That Keep Officers — and You — Safe

Interactions with the police have been in the news more and more lately. In the past few years, police have been looked at in a negative light because of these interactions. While most police would admit there are definitely bully cops out there, usually the suspect’s behavior plays the ultimate role. Here, we outlined a few steps (some of them from a police officer) about how to interact appropriately with the police in order to ensure everyone’s safety.

Always be professional

woman pulled over by police

No matter how unjust you feel the situation, being polite may help your case. | bmcent1/iStock/Getty Images

While this may seem like a given, it applies to any situation with the police — even if you’ve already been arrested. Always speak in a proper tone when talking to the cops. Don’t raise your voice, don’t swear excessively, and don’t keep your hands in your pockets if the police are speaking to you. If you’ve done something wrong, keeping the police on your good side could mean they’ll cut you a break. If you haven’t done anything wrong, remaining respectful looks better for you and makes the whole interaction run more smoothly.

Next: It’s all about the tone. 

Don’t argue

Young man handing over identification during a police stop

Don’t give them a reason to get angry or feel threatened. | bluegame/iStock/Getty Images

Arguing with the police only escalates things. In an article published by the Washington Post, a 17-year police veteran wrote about the best way to avoid getting involved in a tussle with the police. He explained that while there are bully cops, and not all cops play by the rules, it’s still always important to listen and do what you’re told. “Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you,” he said. In the moment, it’s best to let the cop explain his reasoning and not argue back. If there is no arguing, many fights — and potential tragedies — can be prevented.

Next: Make sure these are visible. 

Keep your hands out of your pockets

Shadow of person walking with hands in pockets and hood up

It may raise suspicions. | AlexLinch/iStock/Getty Images

If your hands are in your pockets, it immediately raises suspicion. The police are not sure what your pockets could be hiding, or what you could be grabbing for with your hands. Concealing your hands could worry anyone — not just the police. In 2014, police in Michigan released a video of an officer stopping a civilian for having his hands in his pockets. Both remained calm during the interaction, and at the end, the officer ended up giving him a high five. Proper respect during questioning often warrants a more positive outcome.

Next: This could be the worst thing to do. 

Never run

Police car in motion

A police chase is not going to end well. | IMNATURE/iStock/Getty Images

If the police stop you for any reason, never run. If you’re in your car, don’t speed off, and if you’re on foot, don’t head for the hills. Nothing good ever comes from those who run from the police. It makes the entire interaction much harder, plus it immediately creates suspicion that you’ve done something wrong. Also, there’s a chance you could face criminal charges just for running — separate from the charges you’ll face for whatever you were actually doing wrong.

Next: How you present yourself is very important. 

Remain calm

Police writing a speeding ticket

Freaking out in any way will make the situation worse. | Getty Images

If you get worked up around the police, it could increase their suspicions that something is wrong. Plus, having a mental breakdown could make them defensive against you. Since police constantly deal with people with all kinds of attitudes, they know when to worry. If you are questioned by the police, always remain calm, even if you think being questioned is unfair.

Next: … But always know your rights. 

Don’t consent to an illegal search

Female police officer knocking on door

If you don’t consent, they will need probable cause or a search warrant. | RussDuparcq/iStock/Getty Images

If the police knock on your door and ask to search your home, or pull you over and ask to search your car, you have the right to refuse. Unless the police have a good reason for probable cause, they’ll need to get a warrant in order to search any of your property. You can simply say, “I do not consent to a search.” If an officer smells drugs coming from your home and wants to search it, they might have probable cause. However, if no wrongdoing is apparent, they would need a warrant.

Next: Doing this can cause a tragic turn of events. 

Never resist arrest

Man on the ground after Resisting arrest of police during a protest

Even if it’s not fair, you shouldn’t resist. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

If you are arrested, always comply — regardless of whether or not you think the arrest is unjust. The police are only doing their job. Resisting arrest has led to many dangerous situations. Even something small, like refusing to put your hands behind your back, can turn a situation from harmless to tragic. Usually, resisting arrest is only a misdemeanor. However, it becomes a felony if a police officer is harmed in the process.

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