Cops Behaving Badly

BY Herschel Smith
3 years, 5 months ago

On July 20 Glenn Reynolds linked a report about a respectful police officer conducting a stop to investigate an instance of open carry.  I won’t link the video, but you should stop by and view it.  Everyone is lauding the respectfulness and professionalism with which the cop conducted himself.  Even http://www.reddit.com/r/guns/ had good things to say.

Very well.  I’m willing to accept this, but there is something I want to highlight, something that still bothers me about this good stop, and compare it to this bad stop.  In both instances there is one commonality.  Both officers stated that they needed identification because, in their own words, “I don’t know who you are.”

I have been open carrying during walking my dog in the afternoons now for several months.  Police officers drive right by without so much as slowing down.  No one runs for cover, no one panics, and everyone wants to come up and chat and pet my dog (interesting, because she is a 74 pound Doberman).  I haven’t been asked about carrying by any officers.  Frankly, I can’t seem to get anyone very interested in the fact that I am openly carrying a weapon.  I’m okay with that.  I’d just as soon they not care.

But when I do get asked, my speech is ready.  If I am asked, the officer doesn’t need to know who I am.  That’s irrelevant.  I am not engaged in any illegality or criminal behavior, so my name doesn’t matter.  Said another way, the legitimacy of the exercise of my constitutional rights isn’t contingent upon a law enforcement officer knowing my name or other personal information.  I’ll be happy to show them my CHP, but only after I get agreement to my proposition.  That’s the point that the open carrier in the video was pressing home.  Fortunately, the officer accepted the proposition, but still, the notion that the officer needs to identify the carrier is ubiquitous among law enforcement officers.  And it’s wrong.

Next, to cops behaving badly.

A police officer’s dash cam in Canton, OH caught a disturbing exchange last month between a cop and a driver during a traffic stop. In it, the cop can be heard (and seen) berating a man for not telling the officer immediately that he had a concealed carry permit and thus a concealed weapon, even saying that he should have killed him. But there’s just one problem: the man tried several times but the officer cut him off.

That’s a problem. In Ohio (as in many states), the law requires concealed carry gun owners to immediately inform law enforcement if they have a weapon when they are pulled over. So when the man, named William, was not allowed to do so immediately, and the cop eventually found out, that created an issue.

“I could blast you in the mouth right now!” the officer says in the video after finding out about the man’s gun. “I’m so close to caving in your Godda**ed head,” he adds. “You fu** with me! You’re just a stupid human being!”

He continues: “Fu**ing talking to me with a Godd***ed gun! You want me to pull mine and stick it to your head? … I tell you what I should have done. As soon as I saw your gun I should have taken two steps back, pulled my Glock 40 and put ten bullets in your ass and let you drop.”

“And I wouldn’t have lost any sleep!” he screams.

Here is the video if you’re interested.  This is the other end of the spectrum.  The instance that Glenn cites is a respectful and professional officer, albeit still caught up in the notion that he needs to identify people behaving legally.  The officer in Canton is an uneducated jerk and a menace to society.  The police department would do well to cut ties with this asshole as soon as possible, before he gets himself and the department into legal trouble.

As a final note, it should be pointed out that it’s cops like this who give credence to the notion (some people preach) that the police are simply another gang we cut loose to terrorize the gangs we don’t like.  I would observe that frankly, we don’t need any gangs at all.  They can all go home.



  • Jim March

    Well there’s two issues:

    One is the “stop and identify” laws in most states, including Nevada and Ohio that I know of specifically. These are fundamentally bad laws. They give cops an excuse to make contact with somebody and intimidate them – “we’re going to check you out” doesn’t sound good to *anybody*, let alone minorities. The Hibel case at the USSC allowed these laws and it was a really bad decision. And this is part of what went wrong in the Ohio case – the stop and ID laws let the cop get up in those people’s faces in the first place.

    In Arizona and California among others, there’s no “stop and ID law” unless the police have probable cause. I carry openly in AZ near-daily in one of the more liberal areas (Tucson) and have had zero challenges by cops of any sort – they simply know they can’t just “mess with somebody”. I’ve had cops express friendly curiousity over my homebrew leatherwork but I don’t consider that a problem :). (Granted, it probably helps that I’m white and when OCing, dress at least somewhat “upscale”/”business casual”.)

    The issue in California with the “good cop” (and I actually agree, he mostly was) is that in Cali you can open-carry an unloaded gun only. People do so as a protest against the FUBAR carry permit system (mainly sheriffs selling them to their cronies). Under the developing California case law and statutes, cops can stop you to check the loaded state of your gun ONLY. They don’t have “PC” (in this case, “probable cause”) to do anything else, such as run your ID or gun serial numbers.

    In the “good cop” case, the only actual mistake the cop made was to try to get their ID. He was properly rebuffed and amazingly didn’t blow his stack over it – he backed down. I would call that a pretty minor mistake and I wouldn’t want to see him punished over it. Told informally that this was wrong, sure, but no more.

  • Clint

    Jim, you bring up a good point and great explanation. I too live in Tucson and have lived in Phoenix, and one thing I would like to add is that I have noticed a different attitude to firearms out here than other states. California is one of the strictest states for guns, and this is not only reflected by the legislature but through the attitudes of the police and citizens about them. Police in Arizona seem to not only respect your right to carry (OC, concealed, whatever you want) but fully support it and the laws and ideas behind it. That to me makes all the difference. An officer may have to allow you to carry, but he can sure make your life a hellish nightmare if he wants to, which seems to be the case in states where gun laws are restrictive or especially where gun laws are waning towards less restrictive. If I know I can open carry, but cops are going to be a complete mini-hell-on-earth for me, then I’m not going to carry. In AZ, I know the cops won’t do that to me, so I feel free to do it. It’s a sad situation because I feel many cops are inserting their political bias into the way they deal with people in order to intimidate them. Anyways, just my opinion. Always good to here from other AZ carriers though.

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    N.C. (where I live) doesn’t have a stop and identify statute.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_and_identify_statutes

    The states that do should work on repeal of said statutes.

  • http://Q Warbucks

    This is the reality of the town in which I live. I do not have the same need to carry a gun when I walk my dog because I’m in a populated park in early or late day in an suburban area of the SF Bay Area. If I had a need or felt a need, I might move to a town where I felt differently. That’s just me. I support both open and conceal carry. But only conceal carry works in urbanized areas of California. Anything else will get you into a hassle. Attitudes are often hardened against open carry in the urban centers.

    In my town if you strap on your open carry gun, the cops will monitor you very closely. Here the situation is complicated. Guys that strap on weapons get assaulted verbally, not by police but some of the other citizens. Many shops will not allow you to enter. The police would be called immediately if you did enter. It will soon turn into a fiasco.

    There are very active Rod & Gun Clubs here. Their annual BBQ is a real political must-do if you are a politician.

    If you drive 25 miles north east and strap on a gun, in say Richmond, CA inside the Iron Triangle chances are you will draw unwanted gang attention down upon you. It would literally seem to be a stupid-provocative act to commit, i.e. a display of force to draw out the adversary, like a military sweep. You would very probably draw a response if you were on foot and visible. Depending upon how long you stayed, you would likely be in a gun fight before night fall.

    Coming back to my own little town. In the late 40′s and early 50′s it was not uncommon to see kids with rifles on truck mounted gun racks parked in the high school parking lot. While that is not legal now, from time to time we still see farmers with gun racks and once in a while a rifle on the gun rack.

    In my area, the only affordable way currently to protect yourself if you really feel you and your family may be at risk is to simply conceal carry regardless of the permit status. It may not be wise but it is the only solution that works 99.999999% of the time and affordable.

    The only proponent of gun and weapon training is from our former Mayor, a Jewish scientist, who clearly brings to the discussion war-zone life which is a whole other influence, most families have not had to live under.

  • http://www.captainsjournal.com/ Herschel Smith

    Well, Rich, I probably have MUCH less of a need to carry in my neighborhood than do you in any of those areas. Mine is extremely safe, but I have made a personal policy decision to carry regardless of the circumstances and thus jettison the decision-making as to risk level. In other words, become accustomed to carrying. And I figured that if I do that, then my IWB holster, which was becoming highly annoying on long walks in the heat with sweat pouring all over my weapon, had to go.

    It’s just a personal and tactical decision.

  • John A

    In re the Cali stop, no doubt the officer was constrained by “procedure” and paperwork rules to ask for a name. He did NOT actually back down when refused, he made a point of his own: that “Jeremy” could make up any name he wanted, i.e. the officer felt it was silly to have to ask if there was not even a whiff of possible (arrest, ticket, etc) action. He also implied if he did not get even a fake name he would probably make one up himself.

  • Bill

    I watched the good officer video myself the other night and I couldn’t help but wonder if he’d have behaved differently if he was not aware of being videotaped.

    I couldn’t even stomach watching the bad cop video after reading the description and transcription of what he said. He is a criminal and needs to be taken off the street and disarmed immeadiately.

    If all officers behaved as the one in the former video, rather than the latter, I’d feel much better about my country and LEO in general. Truth be told, I’m terrified of the police here. They want me disarmed and loathe being videotaped.

    Any sort of citizen carry is outlawed in my area of residence (LI, NY) and my discussion with the county rep via twitter shows that they’re in love with this idea and have no interest in changing it whatsoever, much less talking about it.

    I’d vote with my feet, but it’s not an option, unfortunately. I envy other states citizens where they respect and even support your civil rights, rather than see you as another adversary.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Police and was published July 21st, 2011 by Herschel Smith.

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