The first and most important rule is to remain calm.
The problem is, police encounters are often tense for everyone involved. Adrenaline flows, people become nervous and sometimes are not thinking clearly.
Take a couple deep breaths and stay focused on the Officer.
A sudden movement, even for the most innocent of reasons (reaching inside your jacket to retrieve your wallet, for example) can be interpreted as a threatening move by a police officer, unless you ask them first.
“Officer, I need to reach into my jacket for my wallet” or “My registration is in the glove box”.
By not communicating what you are doing, it’s possible you could be reaching for a weapon, or hiding something, which is probable cause for the Officer to investigate further, or even fear for their safety. And it can easily escalate a situation that may have started as a minor traffic stop, but ends up with a felony charge, or worse.
If an officer is approaching with their weapon drawn, it is, at least to them, an incredibly serious situation. It is absolutely imperative to remain calm, keeping your hands in plain sight and making no sudden movements.
In any police encounter, always speak clearly and respectfully, and follow their instructions. The minute the yelling, the outrage, the ‘my rights’ speech starts, all bets are off. No one likes to be told how to do their job, especially someone with a badge and a gun.
An encounter with the police is not a courtroom, unless you make it one. And, I’m sad to say that the cops become Judge, Jury, and yes, sometimes even Executioner in the Court of the Street. It’s a fight you will not win, and should do everything possible to avoid. It is the job of your Attorney to fight for your rights in court. Make your case there.
Remember, you do have the right to an Attorney before answering any questions if you are arrested, and beyond providing them with identification, say as little as possible, without being disrespectful. “I respectfully invoke my right to consult with my attorney before answering any questions.”
With the appalling sniper attack that left 12 Officers dead in Dallas fresh in the mind of every cop in America, it is imperative to keep in mind they have every reason to be cautious when approaching any situation. Even a routine traffic stop can turn deadly in a heartbeat.
To my friends in Law Enforcement, my sincerest condolences for the loss of your fellow officers. As always, we are all counting on your professionalism, training and selfless dedication to help your communities, your fellow officers, and our country, get through these difficult times.