Q&A

We are inundated with questions from all of you.  We will answer each and every entry.  Continue to check back as we answer questions as quick as humanly possible.

(Scroll to the bottom of this page to submit your own question or comment)

Q: Anonymous asked – “Don’t know if you are taught how to keep control when in the field? If not how do you do it when a large group of protesters are chanting something about “dead cops”. And trying to stay under control when they are inches away from your face. I’d able to control my temper pretty well but I don’t think that I could be calm on the outside and boiling on the inside.”

A: Self-control is a huge part of being a police officer.  Many of us, including myself, have been on the receiving end of an irate or pissed off citizen.  You’re right! They get within inches of our face to tell us how they feel.  We are trained to always keep a certain distance, and the more steps they take towards us, the more you’ll see a cop stepping backwards.  It works in a perfect world, but not always.

We are trained numerous hours in communications.  We used to call it “verbal judo”.  I’ve had people tell me that they’re going to find me and kill me.  I’ve had numerous people threaten my family.  I even had one citizen find out where I lived and made several false accusations and tried to set me up…which didn’t wok by the way.  We are taught early on that we will face these kinds of abuse, and any type of negative reaction could cost us our career.  Unfortunately, some cops can’t refrain from reacting.

I know many cops use comedy to get through the situations you mentioned above.  While someone is chanting “dirty copy” we’ll say quietly “blame my wife for not doing my laundry last night”.  We practice self-control through many aspects of policing, and eventually we’re able to block out the accusations.  I will not say it’s easy…

 

Q: Carl Zurhost (NY) asked – I think the only thing I really want to know is if there’s really a quota. I realize the answer may change depending on the region and area the cop works.

A: I get this question all the time.  I work for a larger city and we do not have quotas.  I know several officers all over the country, and it does change from agency to agency.  I know the NYPD do have quotas, but it isn’t the same across the board.  I believe supervisors can institute their own type of “quota system” for the squad they are managing.

Most departments allow the immediate supervisor to generate goals and objectives.  One supervisor may want tickets, the other may want positive community contacts.  Unless you work for a five or twenty person agency, most officers are expected to perform some type of self-initiated activity when the radio isn’t busy.  Do you want your tax dollars paying for a cop just to sit in his car behind a building?  The more the community see’s an officer or his vehicle, the more they’ll second guess breaking into that house or robbing that pedestrian and that’s a fact!

 

Q: Anonymous askedPeople often talk about how many shots are fired by police in situations where deadly force is required could you take us through the protocol in these instances?

A: This is also a question that is asked over and over.  Every time there is a high profile case, the amount of times an officer fires his gun is always challenged by the public.  You know what?  I don’t blame you one bit, it’s a great question.  I will simplify the law so this isn’t a five page answer.  If an officer’s or citizen’s life is in immediate danger, we are allowed to utilize deadly force.  That’s the simple version.

My recent shooting allows me to talk about this from a perspective that many others cannot.  First, you must understand that all police officers are trained to shoot until the threat has been eliminated.  The word “trained” is crucial here because that’s what officers rely on under extreme pressure.  During my shooting, I don’t remember pulling out my gun, and I had no idea how many shots I fired.  If I had to guess, I would’ve said eight before I viewed my video.

An officer is only as good as his/her training.  I know that sounds cliche, but it’s very true.  If you talk to any officer who has been involved in such an incident, he will most likely say “I don’t remember much once my training took over.”  We are trained to shoot until we, or someone else, is no longer in danger.   So why are some people shot ten, twenty, even fifty times?

I want you to picture this scenario.  Seriously, close your eyes and play this out in your head.  You are a cop.  You’re focused on a man who’s erratic, screaming, and has a shotgun in his hand.  He won’t let you within thirty feet of his porch where he is pacing back and forth.  You and five of your fellow officers are all barricaded behind your patrol cars.  You are trying to talk this crazy person out of shooting someone inside the same house.  He’s also been screaming about shooting us for two hours, and has been screaming about how he can’t take it anymore.  All of a sudden, he turns towards your direction and points his shotgun at you.  I’m sure you can imagine what happens next!  All you hear is a bunch of shots being fired.  You fire your gun, and so do your fellow officers to protect you and whoever else he pointed the gun at.  You fired five shots, which is about the average.  Your fellow officers did the same thing.  Do the math and that suspect got shot twenty-five times in about three seconds.  The media doesn’t care about these facts.  The media reports “suspect shot twenty-five times” and society reacts.

We can’t wait to see what our partner or fellow officers are going to do.  If they hesitate, and you wait, you’re dead.  Like I said, officers have to be selfish sometimes to go home at night.

Again, we shoot until the threat is eliminated.  As mentioned above, I thought I fired my pistol eight times, but it was in-fact only five.  I don’t even remember pulling the trigger.  My training took over.  All those days in the heat, on the firing range, sweating and reaching the point of exhaustion, were worth it for those five seconds.

 

Q: Anonymous asked – do you feel like racism is any more prevalent in the police force than in any other profession?”

A: Unfortunately, I think racism exists anywhere and everywhere.  The problem, in my opinion, is it’s a “go to” when people don’t agree with someones actions or language.  The word “racism” is not a powerful word anymore.  It is tossed around so much that it lacks the punch it once had.  That said, there are racist cops out there.  There are also racist bankers, plumbers, and CEO’s.  My point is that you will never be able to completely remove it from law enforcement and it exists in every field.  Police have great power and if that power is used against someone purely based on their skin color, it’s dead wrong.  I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as the media or society makes it out to be…not even remotely close.

I would love to hear from a Black, Hispanic, or any minority individual who had a positive or negative encounter with police.  I think they would be able to answer your question better than I could (reach out to us below, on Facebook, or PolicingBlackandWhite@yahoo.com).  Allow us to learn from YOUR experiences!

 

Q: Chris Kempey (NJ) asked: Have PDs across the country received the proper tools (i.e. non lethal weapons, body and dash cameras, etc.), as well as the proper training to handle any situation?

A:  Thanks for the question Chris.  I worked for a fairly large department.  Larger departments usually have bigger budgets, but they may not apply the money the way you would like.  I was lucky enough to receive exceptional training, up-to-date equipment, and body cameras.

The thing to remember is that no matter how much we train, no matter how much we play out scenarios both physically and mentally, we can’t prepare for every situation.  Every deadly force incident is unique.  Actually, almost every single call is unique in it’s own way if you think about it.  I never went on a call where the facts were the same.

I know surrounding departments that don’t have computers in their car.  I know several departments that don’t have Tasers.  I laugh when I hear that there are numerous departments still drawing crash diagrams by hand.  Those officers realize that we all have the same goals, we just reach them a little differently due to technology.

I don’t think people understand that every state has an annual recertification process.  Laws are constantly changing, as well as the philosophy on how to handle a certain group or situation.  One year the topics may be “How to Handle Juveniles” and “Gang Violence”, and the next year the topics could be “Driving” and “Mental Health Subjects”.  There is such a wide variety of topics that must be covered.   The downfall to all this education is officers are in a classroom, not on the streets.  Many citizens are yelling for more education, but that means a squad may go out at only 50 percent.

When the nation is in a budget crisis, you can bet that almost all law enforcement agencies are as well.  My department used to issue socks to every officer, and that was recently cut out.  We used to receive a flashlight called a “Stinger” but that was cut out as well.  Police departments suffer greatly when budgets are cut and they will cut anything that isn’t a necessity, including officers.  I would love to answer your question with “Yes, most officers have what they need to perform their job” but it simply isn’t true.  Anyone out there have a suggestion or idea?

 

Q: Anonymous asked: I work in a bar and a section of the bar was closed for a police officer birthday party. A song about “hating cops” was played over the stereo and the cops stated in a really pissed off way “I need to find the person that played this” and appeared really angry. Why do cops act this way? Can anything be done at that moment or later on?

A: Most citizens call law enforcement a pedestal career.  In other words, we are held to a higher standard and people look up to us.  The hard part is we are never truly “off-duty”.  If you’re a salesman or a banker, and you get into a bar fight or receive a speeding ticket, it may anger your bosses, but you probably won’t loose your job.

I received a speeding ticket on the way to pickup something for a charity event that I was hosting.  The state trooper clocked me at 78 mph in a 55 mph zone.  Five minutes later I had a ticket in my hand (even though according to society we let each other get away with anything).  I had to write a memo to my command staff notifying them of the ticket.  I had to submit another memo explaining why I was driving so fast.  I then had to complete a third memo with the results from my day in court.  During that time period, I had many sleepless nights wondering if I still had a job.  Is this something you have to deal with at our job?

I’m telling you this because I think the officer you mentioned in your question may have been in the wrong.  I also think it’s important to remember that we are humans, and a joke can be very misconstrued just because we wear a badge.  If the officer you mentioned said those words in a threatening and serious manner, then it needs to be dealt with.

If you feel the need to address the officer’s actions then there are a couple ways to deal with it in my opinion.  First off, if there is alcohol involved, maybe approaching that officer the same night is not the best option.  Alcohol can really impair ANYONE’S judgment.  You can try and locate one of his friends that doesn’t seem to be intoxicated.  Tell the friend what you witnessed and respectfully explain why you are bothered by it.  Another option is to call the department the officer works for and state your complaint.  Drunk or not, no officer should be threatening anyone’s life.  These are the type of officers that ruin our image.

 

Q: Eric Albert (NY) Asked – what do you think about officers who use their position to take advantage of a situation while off duty? Is an asshole an asshole or do we give cops a free pass on being a dick because of the tough job they have to do?

A: This is a hard one to answer.  I don’t want to speak for society, since I’ve been a cop for the past seven years.  There are obviously supporters out there and they seem to express their support in different ways.

While on-duty there are businesses and restaurants that offer all first responders (EMS, Fire, and Police) a discount or a free meal.  I support this as long as they are consistent across the board and it’s all first responders, not just police.  I will confess that I was truly embarrassed as a cop when I saw the same ten officers utilize the same location for a discount day in and day out.  Most officers I know would squirm when they witnessed this as well.  If an officer asks for a discount then he has crossed the line.   There have been many times where a restaurant that normally discounted my meal did not or forgot, and I paid full price without hesitation.  It is a courtesy, not a given.

I believe a business who posts “Police/Fire/EMS Discount” is for uniformed employees.  I think they do this for two main reasons; I think they like having the protection of police and/or they truly want to express their support for first responders.  Another reason is a majority of society views first responders as model citizens, and it’s good for business to have them as guests.

Officers who are off-duty should in no way use their power unless it’s INITIALLY OFFERED TO THEM.  I know, I know…there are officers out there that use their badge, while off-duty, to generate special treatment.  It may be a business as stated above, it could be to get out of a ticket, or to move to the head of a line.  I think citizens do have a heart for first responders, and if someone is willing to show their support and give them special treatment, why not?  What I do not agree with is the interaction being generated by the first responder.  There is no reason a first responder should bring his career into a conversation.  Let the citizen or business owner make the offer.  I don’t see this being any different than a club owner letting his friends to the front of the line, or a doctor letting a nurse be seen before others.  Let me be clear though, a police officer should NEVER abuse their power..period!  Special treatment should never be expected.

I think an asshole is an asshole.  If “Joe Citizen” does something in public that you don’t agree with, chances are you’ll simply walk away in anger.  If an officer does something wrong in public, people feel the need to target him/her, and bring it to everyone’s attention.  Since police do have power, and with great power comes great responsibility, I think the same officer should be held responsible for wrong-doing.  Does his employer need to know?  I really don’t have the answer to that.

I’ve stated in the past that I received a speeding ticket (while a cop) on the way to pick up an item for a charity event I was a part of.  I had to tell him I was a cop because my pistol was in my vehicle.  The State Trooper gave me a ticket for speeding without any reduction or sympathy.  I was forced to write several memos to my chief’s office detailing the incident.  I feared I was going to be fired.  Although disappointed and angry at the trooper, I never faulted him for doing his job. I just expected some type of acknowledgement from him during the traffic stop.

Simply, I do think society treats cops with special treatment…but is that the cops fault?

 

Q: Anonymous asked: Why are officers allowed to do checkpoints for DWI and everything else. I feel like this gives them freedom to stop anyone they want for no reason.

A: Coming soon…

 

Q: Anonymous asked: Do you think officers have to little or too many opportunities for subjectivity/preferential treatment officers, based on what information?

A: Coming soon…

 

Q: Anonymous asked: I’ve heard there is a large battery of psychological testing officers go through for eligibility… What characteristics are they screening for, such as, an officer passes or fails based on demonstrating what attributes/abilities?

A: Coming soon…

 

Q: Anonymous asked: Last time I got pulled over was because the cops were doing an inspection check and I was driving my husband’s car and got pulled over and given a ticket. My kids were with me in the car and I was 9 months pregnant and my husband was mad that I didn’t ask him not to give me one but I feel that I should not ask any questions just do what he asks…Will it make the cop more mad if I would have made excuses and asked him not to give me a ticket or just give him my information and takes what he gives me????

A: Coming soon…

 

Q: GracieLee Weaver (NC) asked: How do years on the force impact officers attitudes going in to various situations?  How extensive are application and screening processes for officers? What types of continuing training/education opportunities are required for officers?

A: Coming soon…

 

Q: Mr. Andrews (NC) asked: How many times does a police officer show up on a call when there is a gun involved?

A: Coming soon…

 

Q: Keith Bruno (NY) asked: Do police depts have policies on traffic stops on sport bike riders? Like we see a sport bike we stop em especially if there riding in large groups?  What’s the s.o.p if a rider doesn’t stop and mph exceeds 100 or 150plus? Do you stop following?

A: Coming soon…

 

Q: Anonymous asked – How do you feel when you see the “#ACAB” hashtag used so often? (Editor’s note – A.C.A.B. is an anti-police acronym standing for “All Cop[per]s Are Bastards” used as a slogan in graffiti, tattoos, and other imagery)

A: Coming soon…

 

Q: Tricia Lawrence (NY) asked:  Do you feel that media has a negative influence on how people view police officers?

A: Coming soon…

 

Q: Anonymous asked – What do cops think about body cameras and why aren’t they forced to wear them?

A: Coming soon…

 

Q: Anonymous asked – If a motorist was speeding (85 mph in a 40) but really had to go to the bathroom or rushing to hospital for a family member, would the officer give discretion?

A: Coming soon…

 

Q: Anonymous asked – Can the attitude of the driver on a car stop change the results? (Driver was polite= no ticket/ driver was asshole=multiple tickets) regardless of the offense.

A: Coming soon…

 

Q: Anonymous asked – I have a question for you. I’ve heard rumors that marijuana is essentially decriminalized in (Removed for safety) as long as it’s a small amount and there is no intent to distribute. I was just wondering how accurate that is. I have a couple of close friends that are recreational users and I always worry about them getting caught even though I have no problem with it as long as they’re at home and not driving around.

A: Coming soon…

 

Q: Keith Bruno (NY) asked – Hey Tim my question is when officers come in contact with people who they say gas a history of psych or any problems and they have a weapon. The cops always shoot center mass. I ask cause why aren’t officers trained in that situation with any weapon other than a firearms to shoot in the arm or.leg to put them down its always a lethal shot for someone with
sometimes a non lethal weapon.

A: Coming soon…

 

Q: Linda Melanie (NJ) asked: seriously, i have a hard time accepting the grand jury decision in the NY “i can’t breathe” choke-hold case. it’s on iPhone video with audio! i would like to have seen a trial for excessive force. the Missouri case is less troubling to me because of the autopsies and conflicting eyewitness testimonies. do you – do the cops you know – see justification for the grand juries’ decisions in both cases? and – what is the general feeling about body cams – do cops like them or not?

A: Coming soon…

 

Q: John Mincello (NC) asked: How bad does the “bad cop” stereotype impact you being able to do your job properly? And I am referring to the stereotype that cops are bad, not that you yourself are a bad cop.

A: Coming soon…

 

Q: Anonymous asked:  Here is a couple of questions for you. What’s the difference between profiling and racism? Why is it in a low income neighborhood, especially if you fall into a certain demographic or dress a certain way, it seems police officers are looking for a reason to arrest you? Example stop and frisk. Or getting your car searched after a minor traffic infraction. Why is it presumed you may have committed a crime?

A: Coming soon…

 

Ask or comment here, on facebook, or email us PolicingBlackandWhite@yahoo.com.  We WANT to hear from you.

 

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