The recent deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City have placed police tactics under the media spotlight. It is a sad truth that innocent people die at the hands of police every year in this country. Since 2000, law enforcement officers have killed nearly 600 people in Los Angeles County alone, which amounts to roughly one death per week.1
There is no denying that there are police officers that enjoy the violent aspects of their work, but it is far more common that officers we encounter are just trying to do their job. While no one has yet put forward a good solution to the problem of violent cops, there are some steps you can take to avoid making your dealings with the police more peaceful.
The Police Mindset
The first thing to do is understand the mindset of a police officer. Men and women in law enforcement are trained that every person they approach could be the person that ends their life. Therefore, they are trained to recognize life-threatening movements and verbal threats. If you make a sudden, unprompted move to the pocket on the inside of your jacket or to the waistband of your pants, you could find yourself staring down the barrel of the officer’s gun.
Keep your hands visible, and if you have to make a move to your pocket, tell the officer that you are going to do so. Explain why you need to get into your pocket, and do so slowly.