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Do you agree if pulled over you should tell the officer you're packing?

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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Do you agree with this Officer?

FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS POLL..ASSUME YOU LIVE IN A STATE THAT DOES NOT REQUIRE DISCLOSURE....



Pulled Over While Carrying...
By J. Peters

I am a cop.
I stop you for a violation of motor vehicle code or law.
You have a weapon.
You have a concealed weapons permit.

What happens now?

I am writing this article as a cop. I am and have been that armed citizen, but that is not what I want to focus on. I am writing this article as a guide to dealing with us cops. Now, everyone has a story about cops. A large majority of those stories may not be what one could describe as "the most wonderful and joyous occasion in recent memory".

Realizing that we are always judged as a group, I try not to be "one of those cops". I have a background in the Marine Corps and grew up shooting and hunting from my earliest memories. My part time job (most cops have some other gig) is working in a local gun shop selling firearms.

I do not question the armed citizen's reasons behind carrying a gun. I understand and promote the concept of an armed and educated citizenry. There are differences in how you and I carry and employ weapons and how we may be involved in a deadly force encounter, but that isn't what I want to focus on either.

My goal here is to provide food for thought when dealing with a police encounter on the street or in your vehicle, while you are armed. I want to do this from my prospective as it may help you to understand it better. Sometimes in order to see things clearly, we have to see it from the reverse angle.

Where I work and live, in Michigan, folks who have a concealed pistol license are required to inform the officer stopping them that they have a weapon with/on them. They can be subject to a civil infraction fine if they do not disclose this information. When not carrying the weapon, they need not do this.

I realize that other states may not require this disclosure to be made. Some people may say that it is none of my business whether or not you have your weapon on you or in your car. To a certain extent, I can understand this. It seems intrusive when you are stopped and detained on a traffic offense. It certainly seems intrusive when you get a ticket right?

My question is why not tell the officer? What do you have to lose by telling me that you have your weapon on you?

Are you lawfully carrying your weapon? Yes.

Is that the reason I stopped you? No.

What are the ramifications of the officer knowing that you have your weapon on you (lawfully)? Well, I have heard many stories about cops doing things such as taking possession of the weapon during the course of the traffic stop. I have heard of officers who may instruct the weapon to be placed in a visible spot in the vehicle until the stop is concluded.

I have heard all sorts of stories about the cops that don't even know how to unload a different weapon than the one that they carry. I do not do any of these things, and I would not recommend these practices to other officers.

Truth be told, I very rarely come into contact with concealed pistol licensees in general. Why? CCW people just don't break the law that much. Upon occasion, I have stopped those with weapons permits in my jurisdiction.

My concerns when approaching the vehicle are primarily the occupants of the car. Traffic is always a secondary concern as is the rest of the environment of the stop, but that is my problem, not necessarily yours.

What I look for may be the positioning of the hands. What I like to see is both hands visible. A good place for the driver is on the wheel, 10 and 2 if you will. It is easy for me to see this as I approach from either side of the vehicle.

Passengers in a vehicle who may be armed can place their hands in their laps if possible. This may seem somewhat remedial, but you would not believe how many people start digging in their vehicle like they were mining for gold.

Picture yourself in my situation; just clearing an intensive domestic assault call or stand off with a suicidal subject and my first traffic stop afterwards is searching frantically around the car for god knows what.

1. Don't dig around...

Don't dig around looking for your paperwork, that French fry you dropped when the lights came on or your kid's pacifier. I do not enjoy putting you at gunpoint. It is stressful for both of us. We can avoid this problem by staying put and keep our hands comfortably visible.

I say 'stay put'; I mean stay in the vehicle. I realize that some jurisdictions may ask you to step from the vehicle. Do so when asked. Again, this may seem remedial, but someone who exits a car, without being asked, on a traffic stop gives an impression that he is either going to do us harm or run from us.

2. Eye Contact...

Make eye contact with the officer. Nothing says "I'm crazy" or "I have something to hide" like the 1000 yard stare down the roadway. This behavior has led to several searches, arrests, and some altercations upon further investigation.

3. Smile!

Like Mr. Rourke of Fantasy Island was fond of saying "Smiles everybody, smiles!" Make eye contact and smile. It will let the officer know that he can communicate with you.

4. Keep it hidden...

If you have the gun lying on the seat next to you or in plain sight, plan on having that muzzle related talk mentioned earlier. We know that an action beats a reaction almost every time. A visible weapon is an accessible weapon to a suspect. Concealed Carry means CONCEALED. Unless regulated by statute, I do not want to see your weapon. It would seem obvious, but even if you know this officer, this is no time to play a prank or joke.

I don't come to your work area and play practical jokes on you, do not do it to me. Your motives may be playful but the results could be devastating to you and the officer. I have had people do this before. For the life of me I do not know why and the resulting opinion is that the officer is a jerk for not getting the joke.

5. Take it easy...

No sudden movements to see if he is paying attention. No furtive movements to joke around.This may not be a potential lethal force encounter to you. It is to us, all of the time.

6. When do you tell him?

The time to inform the officer is upon his greeting. Do not say "I have a gun". Never utter this phrase. Never utter any variation of this phrase. There is no good that can come from that phrase when said to an officer. All we hear is "have a gun" and the rest is implied. The highway can be a noisy place and we may not hear everything you said.

7. How do you tell him?

Greet him and tell him you have a concealed weapons permit and the weapon is on your person/in the car.

8. Hand your permit...

Hand him your permit with your operator's license and any required paperwork like your registration and proof of insurance. The officer will likely ask where the weapon is. Tell him. There is no reason not to as long as you are abiding by local and state laws. Do not reach for the weapon unless asked to do so. Most officers, me included will not tell you to do this.

9. Then what?

The officer will most likely tell you very specifically to stay put or give further instructions based on training, experience, and departmental guidelines or operating procedures. Bear in mind that some agencies may have procedures and some may not. If you feel that action was taken that was unnecessary or infringed on your rights, check into the existence of a guideline or policy in the department involved.

If you are polite and proper, you may just even get out of a citation. You may not agree with the citation. This is not the time for that discussion. There are hearings for that. Even if you get a citation, thank the officer and be on your way. Take him to court to air your grievances.

Remember that you are a representative of all the concealed weapons permit holders out there, just as we are all the same cops. You have a responsibility to your fellow armed citizens to act in a manner that reflects well on your peers.

A bad incident involving a permit holder will resound with all the power that the media can muster. Your good behavior will not make headlines on a regular basis what so ever, but you may save the day once in your life.

In that respect, we are a lot alike.

J. Peters is a Law Enforcement Officer with over 10 years experience as certified officer, and was in the USMC Reserves from 1989-1998.
 

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Wow. That was a good read. Thanks. I do agree with most of what he said there. I'm not a cop, but most of his guidelines reflect how I believe the situation should be handled from my end, and I can respect his and other cops' reasoning behind this. No need to make a tense situation.
 

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Good article.

I believe in Ohio you must inform the officer if you are a CCW permit holder and are armed. But even if it weren't (like the poll says), if it were me I'd probably tell the officer every time.

I know many people will disagree, but I would rather get it out of the way quickly instead of the officer finding out if and when I have to step out of the vehicle and I accidentally "print" or whatever. Not telling the officer and then he/she discovers you're carrying (even legally)...I'm guessing the officer would become very nervous and/or agitated. Who wants that?!

Plus there's no way you're getting out of that ticket then, lol.
 

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Thanks for helping people to understand. I feel for the honest LEOs out there. I call a few my friend. You guys have a really tough job.
I have had a tough outlook on LEOs on this site. I don't mean to cast a shadow on you all. I've worked with, around and know a lot of you (LEOs) in this area. Lots of opinions; despite my big mouth, most are not voiced.
I love the corps and surely you're setting the example where you work.
 

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Darn tootin I agree.

When I was in high school I worked at a Sohio station off an exit on the Ohio Turnpike. Since it was station policy to always have a pot of coffee brewing for any of the troopers needing a break I got to spend a lot of time chatting with the local cops and state troopers. One night a seargent with the OHP told me a sure fired method for getting off with a warning instead of a citation. That tip was to put yourself in his place and show him some consideration. At night, turn the dome lights on, roll the window down, and put your hands at 10 and 2. Then be nice to the officer and admit it if you knew your were speeding. The side of a busy highway isn't the place for an argument, or debate. If you weren't paying attention to your speed, admit it and except the consequences.

You know what, that advice has probably saved me at least 1000 dollars in over 35 years of driving. Because I just got a warning instead of a citation most of the time. The last time that I was actually cited was for making a left turn during posted hours. When I was stopped I tiold the officer that I just wasn't paying attention to the traffic signage, I was trying to figure out a solution for a problem at work. When I went to court I told the judge the same thing and apologized for my inattention. The judge then asked the officer about my demeanor and he told the judge that I had told him the exact same thing when he stopped me. The result, my fine was cut in half, got no points on my license or record of the infraction, and the judge thanked me for being the first honest person she had seen that day.

The simple fact is the most police officers are hard working honest people with a difficult and often thankless job. If you make just a bit of effort and show them some consideration you'll find out that they are not ogres, they are actually good people.

BTW, I'm not a cop, just someone who has never been mistreated in any way by a cop. The simple fact is that if you treat them with respect, they respond in kind.
 

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Ah, Another USCCA member I see... Great Article, I thought about posting it, but never did. Thank you for Posting it.

As always, Stay Safe.
 

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Thank you for your service and the great post.
 

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Great post. In NC, we have a lawful duty to inform.
 

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i was recently pulled over, and aside from it being law, it also made a world of difference in trust.
 

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Everytime I have had an encounter with an officer, I got more respect with him knowing I was a CCW holder then I did before I became one.
 

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I vote no. Legally armed citizens aren't the threat. Its not like a two-time felon is gonna alert the officer to the duct taped .38 under his front seat. An officer should assume everyone is armed anyway. He/she cant count on the luxury of some one informing them.

Besides, here in Ohio and I assume in most states, it comes up anyway when they run your license. So what difference does it make if you tell them or not. We must however inform the officer in In Ohio. It doesn't really bother me, its just pointless in my opinion. As I said, a criminal is not gonna inform you.
 

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Thanks for posting this article.

I know of one county in California where the issuing authority (County Sheriff) has that as a condition of issuance. Granted it is only required in that county, but I think it is wise, for the safety of the LEO as well as the citizen. I'd rather have it known up front instead of something discovered by the partner on the other side of the car when I reach for my wallet and hear "GUN!" and then find myself looking down the barrell of a service pistol and asked to slowly exit the vehicle.
 

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Absolutely the same advice given by the LEO that taught my CCW class in Ohio...Also as a note...in Ohio any vehicle registered in your name has attached to it that you are a CCW holder...Best to get the carryng or not out of the way up front...Take the high road and be respectful of the officer...If there is a confrontation you did not start it!
 

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I too agree to a point. If the officer verifies that you can legally carry a weapon, don't ask us to get out of the car, take our weapon, unload it and treat us as if we were infected. If we're confirmed to be legal, forget about the weapon, it is not intended for you!! There is only a few cases where the permit holder was pissed about this, but it does seem childish if an LEO KNOWS we're legal to carry and then treats us like an idiot. LEOs need to realize that a majority of the permit holders have more weapon experience than the LEOs do. Here is Oregon we are not required to inform the LEO, but we do out of respect.
 

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If we're confirmed to be legal, forget about the weapon, it is not intended for you!! There is only a few cases where the permit holder was pissed about this, but it does seem childish if an LEO KNOWS we're legal to carry and then treats us like an idiot. LEOs need to realize that a majority of the permit holders have more weapon experience than the LEOs do. Here is Oregon we are not required to inform the LEO, but we do out of respect.
+1.

If you do, for some reason, feel the need to take it "for your safety" and forget to ask before you reach for it, you'll quickly get a "what the **** are you doing?" from me...4th Amendment anyone?
 

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To add; "Keep your hands on the steering wheel!" wait for instructions BEFORE moving.. You will find keeping the LEO happy, you'll be happy!!
 
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