How To Interact With the Police When You're Pulled Over or Stopped on the Street
You're Being Pulled Over and You're Not Sure if the Person Pulling you Over is Actually a Real Police Officer: What to do When You're Not Sure
Things you can do if you're not sure whether the person pulling you over is actually a cop or notGetting pulled over can be a very stressful situation even if you haven*t done anything wrong. There is something unsettling about a police officer pulling you over or stopping you on the street. Even someone who hasn*t done anything legally wrong can feel a sudden sense of fear or discomfort.
The question that I often encounter from clients, friends and family is *what do I do if I*m pulled over or stopped by a police officer?* *How do I interact with the police officer?*
I will be doing a series of articles on various situations that you may encounter and how you may deal with those situations so that you*re educated about the dos and donts of police interactions and what the law says about your legal rights. Moreover, I not only want you to know your rights, I want your interactions with police to be less stressful so that you feel safe, the officer feels safe and everyone can get home to their loved ones as quickly as possible. And if there is an arrest, I want to educate you about what you can do in those situations as well.
SCENARIO ONE (I*M NOT SURE IF THE PERSON PULLING ME OVER IS ACTUALLY A POLICE OFFICER: WHAT TO DO WHImagine you*re driving along and suddenly, you see lights flashing and you hear sirens behind you. You quickly realize that you*re being pulled over. You start to panic and think, *ok, what do I do next?* But then there*s another issue of concern. You look in your mirror and notice that the vehicle that*s pulling you over is not a marked police car. Instead, the vehicle is what*s referred to as an unmarked vehicle. In other words, it doesn*t have any outside markings of being a police vehicle other than the lights and sirens. Now you start to worry if the person that actually pulled you over is even a police officer. You*re gripped with fear of stories you*ve heard about individuals impersonating police and you*re not sure what to do. So what can you do in this situation?
First, you may attempt to pull over somewhere well lit and hopefully well populated. If someone is pulling you over in an area where there are plenty of people and it*s well lit, there*s a high probability that the person who pulled you over is in fact a police officer and there may not be any danger or need to worry.But what if you*re on the highway and it*s late, dark and there are very few cars around? In this situation, you may lock your doors, crack open your window slightly so that you can speak to the person who pulled you over and immediately call 911. If the individual who has pulled you over approaches your window while you*re on the phone with 911, you may very politely advise him or her that you*re on the phone with police and you want to confirm his or her identity for your safety. If they*re wearing a police uniform, it*s obviously likely that he or she is an actual officer and there is no need to confirm his or her identity. However, it*s still your right to do so. As a side note, I recognize that many officers will not appreciate being made to wait for you to confirm their identity particularly if it*s cold out and/or raining or snowing, but you have the right to be safe and to make sure you*re being pulled over by an actual police officer.
The 911 operator should radio call the officer who has pulled your over and confirm the stop, license plate etc* of your vehicle and advise you that the individual who has pulled you over is in fact a police officer. As another side note, you should consider memorizing your license plate so that you can recite it to the 911 operator or at least have your registration handy so that you can read it off to the 911 operator so that the 911 operator can have it handy to confirm the stop with the person who pulled you over. It*s a good idea to always have your registration, insurance and inspection proof readily available so that you can show it to an officer upon request.