Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ten Secrets Everyone Should Know: Guest Blogger Amy Black

I have finally convinced my mother to let me guest blog. I’m so excited! But first, I feel like I should introduce myself. As I often say, the criminal record is the window to the soul, so here’s mine:

It all started in fourth grade, when I was sent to the principal’s office for illegal activities on the playground. In fifth grade, I ripped the tag off of a mattress. During sixth and seventh grade I mangled every fashion law ever known to man. Eighth and ninth grade found me riding a Razor scooter without a helmet. In tenth grade I jaywalked in front of the police department. That year I also solicited and bought illegal substances in a bad part of a bad town (and was caught by the cops). In eleventh grade, I went (uninvited) to several alcohol-ridden parties. I also broke into my own house, and went back to the bad part of a bad town to solicit more illegal substances. Despite my extensive criminal record, as of yet I have only spent about four hours in jail. (And it took the toughest SWAT officer in the city to get me there.)

As you can see, my mother has been forced to put up with a little monster over the last seventeen years. Because of my extensive criminal record, I find myself in contact with law enforcement almost constantly. Seems like I can’t go a week without being dragged down to the station for one thing or another. The upside to all of this is that I know all kinds of secrets about dealing with the police. The upper upside is that I am going to share ten of my favorites with you, because frankly, these are the kind of secrets that everyone should know.

Secret #1—Show your hands. Police officers are taught to watch a person’s hands, because hands are what kill. Don’t stick them in your pockets, waistband, or behind your back, because these are places where weapons are kept. You may just be reaching for your I.D., but the officer doesn’t know that. Officers have the authority to order you to remove your hands from where ever you are sticking them, and yes, they will.

Secret #2—Keep your hands to yourself. Don’t poke the officer. Don’t pat the officer on the shoulder. Don’t hug the officer. Don’t shake hands with the officer. Don’t use big hand gestures or wave your arms around to get your point across. Officers don’t like to be touched, because touching is a prelude to physical violence. Because a good percentage of officers that are shot are shot with their own weapon, they are trained in gun retention. If your hands are too near an officer’s firearm, little red flags will go up, and you will go down.

Secret #3—Quotas don’t exist. I know some of you read the previous sentence and let out a gasp reminiscent of when you found out the tooth fairy was really your mother. People seem to have it ingrained in them from birth that the reason cops give tickets is simply to fill quotas. It is true that if a specific officer is only writing 1 ticket for every 18 tickets that the rest of the officers in a department are each writing, there is a problem and the officer will be expected by his supervisors to give more tickets. But cops are not paid per ticket, nor are they given incentives of any kind for writing more tickets. The whole point of pulling people over and writing tickets is to encourage safe driving and to correct dangerous behavior, not to get a new toaster oven.

Secret #4—However hard it may be to put on your penitent face, speak in polite tones, and apologize for doing whatever you are accused of doing, do it. Arguing, being obnoxious, rude, or otherwise offensive are all excellent ways to guarantee a ticket. As I mentioned before, the point of traffic enforcement is to keep the roads safe by correcting dangerous behavior. If you can identify what it is you did wrong, apologize for doing it and promise that it won’t happen again, you are doing the officer’s job for them, and he is less likely to give you a ticket.

Secret #5--Even if you are absolutely positive that you are not guilty of whatever the officer is accusing you of, remember, it’s his opinion that counts, not yours. It’s okay to tell the officer (politely, of course) that you did not think you were speeding, or that you thought you came to a full and complete stop at the stop sign. But don’t press the issue. Apologize for being mistaken and promise to be more careful. If he gives you a ticket and you are still sure you were right, then by all means, fight it in traffic court. But under no circumstances should you fight it on the side of the road (because you won’t win).

Secret #6—If you get pulled over at night, turn on your dome lights, then put your hands back on the steering wheel. This makes it so much easier for an officer to see the interior of your car as well as you.

Secret #7—If you get pulled over, stay in the car. There are virtually no exceptions to this rule. Traffic stops are one of the most dangerous things that a police officer does. They never know who they are pulling over. As Officer Robert Kirby put it, it’s like Russian roulette. They don’t know whether they are pulling over your average soccer mom or some nut job that has vowed to kill the next cop he sees. You jump out of your car and come rocketing towards the officer and you start looking more like the nut job and less like the soccer mom. And that’s not a good situation for either of you. If you get pulled over, stay in your car. You will get your chance to talk to the officer, I promise.

Secret #8—If you are stupid enough to get out of your car, then don’t get back in. Just keep your hands where the officer can see them and stay next to your car.

Secret #9—When you get pulled over, your first inclination may be to get out your driver’s license, registration, and insurance. Don’t. Keep your hands on the steering wheel and wait for the officer to ask for your license, etc. The places that you keep these magical items are also the places where weapons are generally kept (pockets, glove boxes, purses, etc.) and the officer will feel better if he can watch what you are reaching for rather then just seeing you thrash around as he approaches your vehicle.

Secret #10—Never tell a cop you have already been pulled over or ticketed for the same violation. Never. It tells him that you obviously didn’t learn your lesson the first time around and therefore need another ticket to help it stick.

Amy's mother here. As Amy said, she is forever ending up at the police department--but only because she is busy learning about law enforcement and doing volunteer work. And just to clarify, she only encounters illegal substances in the course of her work on the side of good and niceness (but the part about illegal transactions on the playground is still scandalous--she was attempting to sell rocks she picked up off the ground, which didn't sit well with the principal).


At 7/16/2008 12:44 PM, Blogger Melanie Goldmund said...

Amy, you *gasp* removed the tag from a mattress? Stephanie, what kind of Jackie the Ripper are you raising here, anyway? No, seriously now, good blog, and definitely things that everybody should know -- and do. Thanks!

At 7/16/2008 12:59 PM, Blogger Pat said...

The tooth fairy was really my mother?
First, I find out that the star rating system is a farce, then, that Spencer McKay is really a tuba playing Santa Clause, and now this?
This place is just getting too controversial for me - I'm going back to my scrapbook forums...
(stomps away in disillusionment)
hee hee, great blog Amy!

At 7/16/2008 1:01 PM, Blogger Melanie J said...

"The upper upside"? I have to find a way to steal that...

At 7/16/2008 1:42 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

I have personal experience with #1 - I was with my dad in a gas station and the police were asking around about a suspect. It was cold, so I put my hands in my coat pockets and the police drew their guns on me. I think I must have gone into shock, because I don't remember what happened next, except that the situation was probably defused by my dad (a former police officer.) He "counseled" me good on that lesson.

#6: this almost makes it easier for them with 4th amendment laws: more stuff is "in plain sight" right? =)

Excellent blog, Amy! I predice we'll be seeing your name on a book's cover one of these days.

At 7/16/2008 2:42 PM, Blogger bwebster said...

Amy's post reminded me of a much more polite (and less profane) version of Chris Rock's famous video on how not to get arrested (go to YouTube and search on Chris Rock arrested) Be warned that it is quite profane; however, it's also absolutely hilarious. I made a few of my younger kids watch it after they became driving teenagers. They looked at me funny, but they also got the message. ..bruce..

At 7/17/2008 9:01 AM, Blogger Evil HR Lady said...

Amy--you should use the first two paragraphs as the beginning of your college application essays.

I'm so proud of my little evil niece.

At 7/17/2008 12:54 PM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

What a terrific blog, Amy! I was VP of a law enforcement Explorer group in high school. (This was back in the Old West with Wyatt Earp, of course.) It was one of the best things I ever did in life.

Thanks for the tips! I'll be driving four hours home today and have a tendency to drive a little faster than the highway department seems to think is prudent on mountain roads. Your advice may indeed come in handy. :)

You are just all-around awesome, you know that?

At 7/17/2008 1:19 PM, Anonymous Amy Black said...

Thanks for all the nice comments!

Melanie-I did remove a tag from a mattress. I can't really remember why, but I'm assuming I probably did it because it said not to.

Pat-I'm sorry to disillusion you further, but I said the blog was about secrets, right? :-P

Melanie J.-I know, aren't I the wittiest person you ever met?

Jon-Bet you thought twice about sticking in your hands in your pockets with cops around again...

Evil- I'll have to think about that. I bet it would be different than anything they'd ever gotten before.

Kerry-Thanks! Explorers is an awesome program.

At 7/17/2008 5:50 PM, Anonymous mean aunt said...

You were selling rocks you picked up off the playground? Did anyone buy any? Did you try selling them to granddad?

At 7/18/2008 3:24 PM, Anonymous Amy Black said...

Yes. They were rocks I picked up off the playground. And of course people bought them. I was an excellent salesman. I think I had brought in some of Granddad's rocks for Show and Tell, and that made me an expert.

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