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Anyone who’s manned the counter at a fast food restaurant or worked in any kind of retail establishment can tell you how difficult it can be dealing with the public.  And they’re just slinging hash or selling shoes.  Throw in drugs, alcohol, stupidity and the potential for a night (or more) in jail and the intensity can quickly get turned up to eleven.  We have some (richly deserved) fun at the expense of police officers here from time to time. But my guess is the vast majority of TTAG regulars have a healthy respect LEOs and the job they do. So put yourself in the average cop’s shoes, trying to guess if the guy he’s dealing with is armed . . .

Police officers  – the smart ones, at least – have always assumed anyone they deal with is armed.  With gun rights moving in the right direction nationwide, more of the people cops come in contact with are now law abiding CCW holders.

Ron Avery, former police officer and owner of the Practical Shooting Academy, is very much pro-CCW. Avery [above] offers some suggestions for guys on the beat, helping them recognize and deal with legal pistol packers.

The fun part: some of the clues he uses to separate legal carriers from the ne’er do wells.  In addition to some of the obvious demeanor characteristics (courtesy, eye contact),  some tip-offs he looks for among the good guys are:

– Tactical clothing (5.11 or similar cargo pants)
– Tactical carry vests  – or what RF likes to call ‘shoot-me-first’ vests
– A good folding knife, flashlight or both
– Oakley shades
– Outerwear in hot weather
– A holster (someone please tell Plaxico Burress)
– Gun not concealed in hood of a sweatshirt (!)
– Pants pulled up – always a nice touch

Is it just me or do you feel like you’ve been watched, too? Avery makes the point that CCW carriers see themselves as the good guys. They don’t expect to be spread-eagled – or as he calls it “proned out” – and tend to get a little miffed when they are.

You probably heard this in your CCW qualifying class, but there are some common sense things you’ll want to do if you have a lead food and are stopped by the local constabulary. 1) Turn the car off 2) Put your wallet or ID and CCW license on the dash (so you don’t need to reach behind you) and 3) keep your hands on the wheel where the LEO can see them at all times.

Why not make your life (and the cop’s) a lot less stressful? Unless you enjoy being proned out in the breakdown lane at gunpoint.

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  1. Don’t forget:
    -Roll all the windows down, or least the driver side ones, if they are tinted
    -Make sure you passengers keep their hands in laps
    (These first 2 got my step-dad out of ticket in his Tahoe. The officer personally thanked my wife for rolling the back driver side window down.)
    -Make sure your passengers aren’t moving around like a wombat

    My personal preference has been to keep my hands resting on the window sill in a relaxed manner with all my paper/IDs. IMO, it conveys a sense of respect by making threat assessment easier for the officer.

  2. A couple of years ago, I was doing 65 in 55 zone.

    Spotted the CHP officer in a group of cars going the opposite direction. Started to hit the brakes and thought: “Who are you kidding?”

    I watched the rearview and as soon as I saw the CHP flip a U, I hit the shoulder, stopped, got out appropriate paperwork and waited, hands in plain sight.

    I admitted I was doing 65, was polite, smiled and fully intended on smiling as I signed my ticket.

    I was let off with a warning….shocking me to no end. As a side note, I did exactly as I’d planned. I didn’t expect to get pulled over, but had a plan in place, just in case.

    I think about various shooting scenarios all the time and try to plan accordingly. I hope I never have to find out if my plans are any good.

    • I think that’s a really good point. Think through the process before it happens to you. That way, when you have a plan, you’re less nervous when it happens. When you’re less nervous, officer O’Leary is less nervous. Better for everyone concerned.

    • Wait a minute … CHP pulled you over from going 65 in a 55? Wow … This obviously wasn’t between Barstow and Las Vegas. 95mph was commonplace on that stretch of I-15.

  3. Another helpful hint when on the street, hands out of pocket and palms slanted in direction of LEO’s or security personnel.
    I made this novice mistake of waiting for my dad at the entrance of a friend’s gun store. The other patrons didn’t know I was a family friend and they only saw an unshaven teenager eyeing the store with hands stuck deep inside a baggy leather jacket. Tension dissolved when I the owner cracked a huge smile a welcomed me in. When I left an old timer leaned over and filled me in on everything I did wrong. I then understood why they were all talking about gun store shootings when I walked in.

  4. In the last year, I must have read 25 articles that could have been titled: “How Not to Get Shot by the Cops While Exercising Your Second Amendment Right Pursuant to Lawful Permit That You Paid and Trained For.” Excuse me for ending a sentence with a preposition, but this is a sad sign of the times.

  5. Ralph, these articles are needed.

    Not so much because of carry permits but to educate the masses on how one should behave when pulled over. You have a friend who is a LEO. Ask him/her what percentage of their pulls react correctly. I doubt if it breaks five percent. The article is dead on right. Police headache number one is the people who have to dig through their trashy vehicle looking for their insurance and registration. Keep your papers in an envelope tucked into your visor – very, very handy. Windows down, ignition off, look directly at the officer (without sunglasses on, he wants to see your eyes and he is checking for the smell of booze and/or dope). Keeping hands on the top of the steering wheel is essential. And of course, a good attitude goes a long way. Show respect with at least one “yes Sir”.

    One evening a decade ago I was pulled over by a Tennessee Highway Patrolman for doing 15 over. I got a warning and when he handed it to me he said he wouldn’t give me a ticket for anything because I showed more respect for a Trooper than anyone he had ever pulled over.

    Teach your kids this stuff. It should not be so rare. PS Keep a twenty in the envelope so your daughter doesn’t get caught needing gas, just don’t hand it to the cop.

  6. Thanks. I’m a CPL carrier 5 months. The more I can learn to prevent an unplesant episode the happier I will be. Thanks again.

  7. Assume the “officer” is a dumb ass and has been trained to believe, that everyone not wearing the uniform is the enemy, until proven otherwise. You, to save your life and other injuries to both your pride, body and wallet, must be absolutely patient with the “officer.” In most case unfortunately, they don’t know more than you do about anything other than the law and this includes their college education in many instances.

    They are in condition red and are primed to shoot you and that will happen if you do anything to exacerbate the situation. You must be patient and very direct. Slow things down by slowing yourself down. Talk to the officer directly with good eye contact and explain anything and everything that you are doing especially if they are pointing a gun at you. Yeah, there may be Constitutional issues involved and the officer may not be acting appropriately or within the scope of their powers but those facts won’t save you, only you can save you. When matters are concluded, obtain all pertinent information regarding the stop and find legal counsel.

    Do not badger or provoke the officers in any way or you may end up in jail and or the hospital. They sometime do this if they know you know, they have acted wrongly and are going to pursue the matter. Don’t let that cat out of the bag and control your anger because it really isn’t their fault in most instances, they’ve been taught to react this way. Always remember that little wood carver in Seattle who was shot 4 times by an SPD officer who is still totally convinced that he was right to shoot. He was trained that way and was obviously not trained to use judgment. He responded to his training, murdered an innocent man according to that training, was fired, allowed to escape any charges but the wood carver is still dead.

    Don’t be the wood carver.

  8. Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a country where you could be assured of treatment in keeping with the law, and not one where getting a ticket, or not (or possibly being shot) depended on your willingness to massage the officer’s ego?

    Although I agree that many TTAG readers probably have “a healthy respect [for] LEOs and the job they do”, I hope readers are paying attention so that attitude is changing. I would love to see things change to where I could have respect for law enforcement in America again, but I’m afraid we’re headed in the opposite direction. The unwarranted lionization of the LEO post-911, as if every rural country sheriff’s deputy was a member of NYPD at Ground Zero or is somehow a key player in the GWOT, has created a class of LEOs who demand, and receive, excessive “respect” (read: “asskissing”) from the “civilians” they encounter, and who enforce their perceived superiority at gunpoint. It makes me a little ill.

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