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(171,137 posts)
Tue Jul 12, 2016, 10:16 AM Jul 2016

I was a cop but I still don't know how to survive a police stop [View all]

I was a cop – but I still don't know how to survive a police stop
Michael A Wood, Jr

Philando Castile did nothing that should have jeopardized his life, and still he died. Here’s how policing needs to change if we want to escape the nightmare

Monday 11 July 2016 14.46 EDT

I am often asked: how can I make sure I get home safe after I am pulled over by the police? Following the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, I feel I should know the answer to that question – but I don’t.

You might think I’m the ideal person to answer: I served four years in the US Marine corps’ version of Swat, and 11 years as a Baltimore police officer, detective, sergeant and shift commander. I’ve participated in innumerable car stops, 400-plus arrests and every training event that I could. And yet, I have no idea how to respond to that basic question.

Following Castile’s death, my friend, Frank MacArthur tweeted: “Brother got gunned down for no reason. He had a burned out tail light. Complied. Did EVERYTHING cop asked. STILL not good enough. For America.” He is right. Based on what we know from available reports, Mr Castile did nothing that could have jeopardized his life. There is nothing he could have done differently.

It is frustrating that I cannot offer foolproof advice on how to stay safe from taxpayer-funded state-sanctioned violence. You can run, or not run. Make eye contact, or avoid eye contact. Assert civil rights, or be submissive. There simply is no rule on how to stay alive when you interact with the police. And that is a problem.

Police legitimacy is built upon trust from the community and is what enables the rule of law. The very fabric of our society depends on all of us caring about the victimization of others. That is why I cannot answer the question of what the oppressed should do when engaged by the police to ensure they do not get killed. The question is irrational. It is up to the privileged and the oppressors to ensure the question is never asked.

The thin blue line is supposed to be what holds society together, but it has become what divides us. The country needs the good cops to make a stand. They swore, just like I did, to protect and serve. But too many fail to do that.



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This needs repeated. puffy socks Jul 2016 #1
True malthaussen Jul 2016 #2
Cops never miss the opportunity to let you know katsy Jul 2016 #28
And police officers are far down from the top in terms of dangerous professions. maddiemom Jul 2016 #42
Not to denigrate at ALL the police that do their job.. BobTheSubgenius Jul 2016 #51
Some years ago, locally, a well-known character who wandered around town ((white) was shot dead in maddiemom Jul 2016 #55
obvious answer: Gabi Hayes Jul 2016 #3
When 9 good cops cover for 1 bad cop, Mendocino Jul 2016 #4
So true ... and it would only take a couple of instances of firing all 10 ... 1StrongBlackMan Jul 2016 #7
Bingo Hekate Jul 2016 #21
exactly! Thanks for sharing. eom LittleGirl Jul 2016 #23
Sadly, I don't see this happening in my lifetime. Exilednight Jul 2016 #24
The police "unions" would oppose such a policy, tooth and nail ... 1StrongBlackMan Jul 2016 #31
My bigger problem is why put the onus on the public. The public doesn't need to change, the Exilednight Jul 2016 #46
I'm not sure how that is putting the onus on the public; but, ... 1StrongBlackMan Jul 2016 #47
It may be tougher than that. You know what happened to Frank Serpico? tclambert Jul 2016 #29
Yes. That is the threat that keeps the cover up culture thriving ... 1StrongBlackMan Jul 2016 #32
Yep, and police unions are rife with that cover-up culture. geardaddy Jul 2016 #12
That's a terrible truth to swallow, but I sadly agree with you. nt LanternWaste Jul 2016 #40
True and it's not as hard as it looks gwheezie Jul 2016 #53
I have had an issue on one traffic stop, pretty serious but still show respect on other stops Thinkingabout Jul 2016 #5
I have an intermittent license plate light short that only happens when police want to stop me uppityperson Jul 2016 #30
oddly enough I used to have the same problem 8 track mind Jul 2016 #36
this must have been discussed at some point: given the insanely dangerous nature Gabi Hayes Jul 2016 #6
Recent tragedies aside... Salviati Jul 2016 #10
understood, and I probably should have mentioned that...btw, the most life-threatening job Gabi Hayes Jul 2016 #14
I grew up on a farm and worked there as a teen most summers. Jerry442 Jul 2016 #39
I think you'd be shocked at how many cab drivers are murdered in a year Nevernose Jul 2016 #49
But how dangerous is it, really? bullsnarfle Jul 2016 #15
your last sentences hit the nail on the head. I don't know what sort of pysch screening Gabi Hayes Jul 2016 #18
I think it's relevant to differentiate the origins of the danger. LanternWaste Jul 2016 #43
Lots of cops in lots of countries Nevernose Jul 2016 #50
Shorten it to American culture. the_sly_pig Jul 2016 #52
that this individual heaven05 Jul 2016 #8
Why do we have to go the Guardian out of the UK to read this article??? NoMoreRepugs Jul 2016 #9
Why malaise Jul 2016 #19
Because the American Media doesn't want us to know these things. eom LittleGirl Jul 2016 #25
^^^AMEN to this!^^^ Surya Gayatri Jul 2016 #11
I was just getting ready to quote that exact same passage! Moostache Jul 2016 #22
They choose to protect each other over protecting us, the citizens lostnfound Jul 2016 #48
You can't control or predict someone else's fears IronLionZion Jul 2016 #13
step a WAY from the placard! on your knees! hands behind your head! BANG! Gabi Hayes Jul 2016 #17
NBC News: "Blacks in Blue: African-American Cops React to Violence Towards and From Police" Night Watchman Jul 2016 #16
thoughts on what being a good cop entails, from the cops themselves: Gabi Hayes Jul 2016 #20
I would recommend walking and driving only while white. guillaumeb Jul 2016 #26
Here's what I find interesting; the majority of the recent spree killers have all been wanna-be underahedgerow Jul 2016 #27
How many cops are veterans with PTSD? WHEN CRABS ROAR Jul 2016 #41
As actors good or bad will tell you, the costume changes and hardens the hearts and mindset. ancianita Jul 2016 #33
kick Angry Dragon Jul 2016 #34
The truth! nt MrScorpio Jul 2016 #35
Did the cop in the Castile soothing get charged? frankieallen Jul 2016 #37
No and that's my biggest issue; there's going to be mistakes but when they happen the leadership ... uponit7771 Jul 2016 #38
Did you watch Dr Brian Williams yesterday at the hospital press conference malaise Jul 2016 #44
advice I got from a cop friend jtunes Jul 2016 #45
I was a cop too Curtis Jul 2016 #54
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