Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An unexpected ecounter with law enforcement.

I was on my way home from trivia night at one of the bars downtown when I saw that harbinger of unpleasantness that is blue lights suddenly filling my rear view mirror. This was, in fact, the second time in three days I'd seen this particular phenomenon of civilization.

The first, luckily, was just a sheriff's deputy who needed an excuse to pass me and the car in front of me on a double yellow. I'd at first presumed he was responding to a radio call but not long after I saw what I believed to be the same car pulling out of the parking lot of a popular, local Barbecue restaurant.

The second, unfortunately, was all about me. I pulled over as soon as possible and wondered if I'd been speeding. It was a possibility because I hadn't been paying attention, though there had been a car in front of me I wasn't gaining on. I also mentally kicked myself for not taking the interstate home rather than driving directly through the city.

The officer approached my car and very politely asked me where I was heading and for my driver's license and my proof of insurance. As I always do when I pulled my driver's license out of my wallet I also showed him my pistol license and informed him I was carrying a gun in a holster. He thanked me for the information and waited as I started digging for the proof of insurance.

For some reason my insurance cards like to hide, and are always a pain to find. While I dug through the reams of paper work he told me he'd pulled me over because my tag light was out. I guess my surprise was kind of obvious. I'd never even considered that but kind of shrugged and said I understood why he had.

At this point he walked back to his patrol vehicle and told me to hold the insurance paper out the window if I found it. I did a few minutes later and dutifully held it up. He came back and politely asked me a few more questions, mostly about where I was from and what I did for a living.

In the end he thanked me for telling him about my firearm, got the number of my place of work after asking about the hiring process, and advised me to get the light replaced as it did give probable cause for a stop. I thanked him and we both went about our night.

I was really impressed with this encounter. My last experience with law enforcement officers in their official capacity left me with a real bad taste in my mouth. It was back when I was having car problems and they unnecessarily harassed me after I explained the reason I was pulled over was an overheating engine and then performed an illegal search.

Anyway, this Birmingham PD officer was very polite and respectful, and in return received the same from me. He did not disarm me, which I wouldn't have particularly been offended by considering the situation. He did not lecture or harass. He did not ticket me, though he had the legal option. He advised me on the best course to avoid further encounters with the police.

That is what I want in a police officer (not necessarily the no ticket part, but that's definitely a bonus!); respect, politeness, and an attitude of helpfulness. It really does go a long way.


Anonymous said...

lucky....did he even ask you about drinking?

Jennifer P

RobertM said...

No, but I didn't drink last night anyway.

Andrew W. B. said...

Hah, d'you tell him about one of his buddies cruisers missing a tag?