Skip to comments.Concealed Carry- A Police Officers Prospective(MO)
Posted on 11/20/2012 6:01:49 AM PST by marktwain
Concealed Carry- A Police Officer's Prospective
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I have been a Deputy with one of the largest counties in Missouri for some years now. Being in an area so riddled with methamphetamine one can naturally expect a lot of traffic stops during each shift. With a population of over 60,000 people I see a lot of diversity in my traffic stops, not necessarily in race, but in backgrounds. I see the rich, the poor, and everyone in between. One question that I have been asked countless times from all walks of life is What do I do if I get pulled over and have my weapon in the car? This question is usually followed up by something to the effect of My CCW Instructor never fully answered that question. So in the paragraphs below I will answer that question in the most complete way possible. Please understand that police work is not a science, but an art. Nowhere is this more true than during a traffic stop. I know officers who only pull over vehicles that they believe contain drugs, and I know of officers who pull over every car they see going six miles over the speed limit. This article is to be used as a guide to properly dealing with the police in the off chance that you are stopped while carrying your weapon.
Step 1: Pull Over
For most people this can go without saying, but I cannot count the times that vehicles will drive five or more miles before stopping. Not necessarily because they are running, or trying to get rid of evidence, but because they are either afraid or think that the officer will just get bored and go away. It doesn't matter if you think your innocent, or that hes got the wrong person, pull over. Once you see the red and blue lights in your rear view mirror find the closest area (preferably on the right side of the road) and pull over. Because the police officer will be getting out of his or her vehicle and approaching yours with traffic buzzing by, get as far right as you safely can. This will allow the officer to position his vehicle in a way which will provide protection to him in the off chance that a vehicle does not see the bright red and blue lights flashing in front of them.
Step 2: Roll Down BOTH of your front windows and place your hands on the steering wheel.
Most people dont understand why someone would want both of their windows to be rolled down, and without conducting hundreds of traffic stops it may be difficult to comprehend. Mostly seen in high traffic areas (i.e. highways, narrow roads, exit ramps etc.) an officer may feel safer and more protected from passing traffic making the approach from the passengers side. And with both of your hands on the steering wheel it is obvious to even the most rookie of police officers that you are not reaching for anything and that you most likely aren't going to cause problems.
Step 3: Do Not Interrupt! But Mention that you have a firearm in the car.
When I approach a vehicle I start every interaction the same: Hello, Im Deputy Bales from the Sheriffs Office, I stopped you today because . Could I please see your drivers license and insurance card? Almost every officer has a canned phrase to give drivers that he stops. Let him finish before announcing I have a gun! After he finishes calmly state Officer, just so you know I have a Concealed Carry Endorsement and my weapon is would you like for me to hand it to you? Do not assume that the officer wants you to hand it to him, while 99.99% of police officers will ask that you do indeed hand it to them, there are a few that will ask you to exit the vehicle and they will remove it themselves. Under no circumstances will I return to my vehicle with a loaded weapon still in yours, so dont get the idea that it is violating your rights for me to hold onto your gun for a few minutes. Most importantly, if you take nothing else from this article please remember that the absolute WORST thing you can do is immediately reach for it without him asking you to. This will result in a very uncomfortable situation for both of you. Why cant I keep my gun with me since I've got a CCW and its a legal firearm? Simply put, just because you may know it is legal doesn't mean that I do. And every officer has seen enough horror films in the police academy to last a lifetime and leave the impression that every gun can kill you. Once I have your weapon with me, along with your drivers license and insurance I then return to my vehicle and provide dispatch with the serial number of the weapon as well as your license information. Now that I know it is a legal firearm we are on to the next step.
Step 4: Getting Your Gun Back
Some officers will approach your vehicle and simply hand you the gun. This practice is largely out dated and most officers are going to the system I was taught. While I am in my vehicle and after I have been told the gun isn't stolen- I remove the magazine and unload the weapon. I will then take all of the bullets out of the magazine. I will re-approach your car, explain that you are/aren't getting a citation, I am handing you a bunch of bullets to be put straight in the cup holder, and that I am going to place your firearm in the back seat and the magazine a few feet away from it. I then explain that under no circumstances are you to mess with that weapon until I am out of sight. I then return to my vehicle and leave.
And Now for the What Ifs:
What if the officer doesn't ask about a weapon in the car, my state doesn't require that I tell him?
I live in Missouri, and here like in most states- you do NOT have to tell the officer that you have a weapon in the car unless he asks. That being said if I find out you have a CCW from dispatch or some other way I will not be very happy when I do ask you and find out that you are carrying a weapon. It is ALWAYS best to be straight forward about having a weapon.
Why are so many cops against CCW?
This is the biggest misconception in the firearm world. I have never in my life met a group of people that were such big proponents of concealed carry and the personal ownership of firearms. For example: The Sheriff of my county had the authority to charge up to $100.00 for the fingerprinting and filing of a CCW. He believed so strongly that citizens had the right to protect themselves that he charged $13.81, the exact amount that it cost him to pay a deputy to take fingerprints and run a background check plus the cost of the fingerprint card. Police Officers are your friends, and as a whole, they believe strongly in your right to carry concealed. With that being said, all of us come across those few rotten apples who aren't very friendly about their guns and ruin the experience for the rest of the world. Just be honest and straight forward about the gun that is in your car and you will be just fine.
What if I have a CCW Endorsement and do not have the gun with me?
Not a problem. Follow the first and second steps exactly the same as if you were carrying. At the same point that you would tell him that you have a firearm in the car explain that you do not have one with you, even though you have the endorsement.
While you will still find a few officers who feel it is necessary to either go beyond what they should do, or just not worry about the gun at all, honesty is always the best solution. Just be straight forward about the gun, or lack thereof, and you will be on your way in just a few short minutes.
OK, I have to ask. What is the ‘fog line’?
Sorry, if I am instructed to exit my vehicle, it will be locked as I exit. And no LEO is going to enter my vehicle without my permission.
I believe that entering the vehicle constitutes a search and that requires more faith in the LEO than I am going to have based on what I can percieve of the LEO's knowledge of the Constitution.
The only reason I can figure why he was checking me out was because I had a 16' extension ladder in the back of the truck - longer story...
Btw, that was the first time I had heard it called that too.
Well I’ve been pulled over in two states where I have held or do hold a CCW, namely NY and PA. I know in NY, having a CCW means you get a NYSPIN associated with your driver’s license, or at least it did in the 80’s/90’s when I had a CCW there. NYSPIN is NY State Police Identification Number. This number was assigned to convicted criminals and CCW holders, so that a LEO making a traffic stop knew either you were a bad hombre or a good hombre who might be CCW. I learned this from my brother, who was a LEO in NY at the time. I’m sure the dispatcher would tell the LEO which you were, upon running your license.
I was pulled over several times in that period (my younger days) and was never once asked if I was CCW, nor did I volunteer that info, nor pre-emptively show my CCW. I never had a hassle. Friends of mine with NY CCW’s have been disarmed at roadside, one who got his loaded/holstered weapon handed back at the end of the stop and the other who was given the “unload pistol and take the bullets out of the mag” treatment.
In summary, your mileage may vary. Since moving to PA, I’ve never been asked about CCW and never volunteered it, but I’ve only been stopped once. The key is to keep your CCW card right with your driver’s license. After producing the DL, I leave my wallet right on the dash, so if the cop wants the CCW card, I dont have to dig for it and make him nervous. He can see my hands and see the wallet because it’s all up in his line of sight.
My brother told me to roll the window down about 1/3 rd the way and then put both hands on the wheel. The partial roll-down is enough for the cop to see into the car but not enough for a perp to be able to get the gun out the window and engage the cop as they approach the car. A wide-open window allows a perp to lean out and get the gun out the window/clear of the door frame, to engage the cop. Cop asks for license, I say “it’s in my back pocket, may i remove my seatbelt to get it?”. Cop asks for reg/insurance, i say “it’s in the glovebox, may i reach over and get it?”
As my brother (the cop) instructed me, this procedure doesn’t make you an oppressed slave of the police state, but does tell the cop that he is in control of the situation and you are following orders. A cop who feels in control is a happy cop, since it lowers the stress level of the situation for him and now you can work on explaining why you don’t deserve a citation and the cop will be relaxed enough to maybe actually stand there long enough for you to have your say.......
Unfortunately, I have found through research and personal experience that there is no set policy across the state of MO or probably any state for that matter. I have asjked departments for their CCW policy and have had no clear consensus.
Bottomlin- know your state’s laws ( and the laws of the state you are in!). In MO, there is no requirement to volunteer such info, but it is required to answer if asked. Of course, LEOs run your plates and will know (if you are driving your own vehicle) that you are a CCW endorsee.
As far as the good deputies directions about rolling down both windows etc, BS. Crack the driver’s side window down far enough to communicate, nothing more. Pull over where safe and do indeed keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the LEO in the RV mirrors so you are not surprised. Don’t be bothered getting youu DL, Ins etc until asked. Then be able to obtain them w/o a lot of fuss (all in one place is a good idea).
If the LEO asks and you are armed, he/she may indeed demand your weapon. I have heard of only one such policy, and that was explained as a result of your indiscretion for getting pulled over in the first place (not due process mind you, but hey, they are cops, they have QI).
The best advice is to not be driving/acting in such a manner to draw attention to yourself-even though local MO LEOs state they will usually let you proceed w/o citation, but a warning. Don’t give the CCW an bad name.
One SD stated that if they seized your arm for the stop, they cannot by other policy give it back until the next day-you have to come to the SD to pick it up, so they must sign it in, secure it etc-too much a pain the butt, so they will not bother unless they are keeping you too.
Once again, avoid getting pulled over in the first place. If you are stopped for any reason, be polite, professional and courteous. Don’t let a traffic stop cause more problems than need be.
I once was stopped on my way to a High Power competition in MO. The officer was polite, mentioned that my plate light was out and that he wanted me to know. He asked about CCW, I told him yes, i was armed. He said “cool, just leave it be wherever it is”. He saw my shooting equipment(scope stand, stool, gun case etc) in the truck and we talked a few minutes. He was coming off shift in an hour, so I invited him to the range a few miles ahead and he showed up during the match. He now is a fairly decent rifle shot.... Not all are problem children.
There is a lot of worry about LEOs and steroids, because for a lot of LEOs, brawling is part of the job, and though most of those they brawl with are drunk and stupid, it takes its toll.
I have met some cops who can just read off a litany of their injuries: a dislocated thumb, a knife wound, half a dozen scars, a tooth or two knocked out, broken nose, etc. It gets real tired in a hurry.
Not so much peer pressure than job pressure. But, I imagine, if one officer in a department starts using, and it works for him, the fact is not lost on his peers.
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I live in Colorado, have a CCW and routinely carry...I’m an NRA Instructor and teach CCW Prep...What follows is me practicing what I preach to my students...
The one time in the last ten years I’ve been traffic-stopped was by a Colorado Highway Patrolmam driving a marked cruiser, for making an illegal left turn...
Since it was after midnight, very dark, and I did not know the area well, I pulled well off the road in a safe location, shut off the engine, locked both doors and cracked my driver’s window about 3-4 inches, and turned on my emergency flashers and the dome light...
When the officer came up to my driver’s side window, I had both of my hands on the wheel, and my CO Driver’s License, Proof of Insurance and CCW Permit in hand...After he had identified himself, and I’d verified he was a LEO, I rolled down the window all the way, and handed all three docs to the Trooper when he asked for them...
He looked at my CCW Permit, asked if I was armed, and I replied affirmative...He replied “OK”, returned my CCW Permit and instructed me to remain in my vehicle...I replied “Yes, Sir!”...The Trooper went back to his cruiser with my license and POI...No further discussion of my weapon...I was not disarmed...
He returned moments later and asked me if I had seen the hanging No Left Turn sign...I replied truthfully I was unfamiliar with the area, and had not seen the sign because of the high tractor trailer rig directly in front of me at the light...
He told me he’d noticed the same thing, thought that might be what happened, and let me go without a ticket, for which I thanked him...
Whole thing took less than 5 minutes, and I was free to go...The Trooper was very professional, polite and no hassle...In return, I was polite and respectful, no attitude, and answered his specific questions directly...
I think my method of response to the Trooper during this stop may have helped save me from a ticket...
Or, he was just tired or in a kindly mood...My personal experience with LEOs is you get back what you put out...Your mileage may vary, however...
Wow. This just isn’t right. And I imagine he means “perspective” rather than “prospective”.
I spent some time in police work before becoming a full time broadcaster. There were guys in the departments I worked at that were great guys who you’d trust with anything including your life, and then there were (a very few, but some in each department) who were absolute jackasses. Their gun was their d**k and they made damn sure that everyone they ran into knew how fearsome they were.
My personal programming is that all cops are your friends and are there to help and protect you. But over the years, I have run into enough that weren’t that I am very guarded and reserved until i have had a chance to figure them out.
I was pulled over recently for going WAAAAY too fast in my sports car. The trooper was breathing fire when he walked up, yelling “As you might imagine, I am NOT happy this morning”, to which my internal reaction was, “why the hell are you angry? How exactly were you harmed, pal?” but after he got his initial huff out of the way, he became conversational, pleasant, and we conducted the transaction we needed to conduct. (For what it’s worth, the judge was the same way handing me a very large fine).
He was doing his job, and I respected that. The initial anger was completely inappropriate and unneeded but he quickly calmed down.
Whenever I am pulled over for whatever reason, no matter when or where, I always have the windows down, the dome light on, my hands on the steering wheel and my license in my hand on the steering wheel.
When I’m in the roller skate, my wallet is in the trunk, as it was on the day described above. I told him that my license was in the trunk and asked him how he wanted me to proceed. Going into the trunk is a HUGE red flag for a cop on a traffic stop, so it’s important to be very calm and professional and describe everything you are doing, and ask permission to do everything. “May I open the trunk?” “My wallet is in that green briefbag. May I open it? It’s a tan colored wallet in the first zippered pocket.” “I am going to open my wallet to get my license now.” Be even more professional than he is and it’s unlikely you’ll have any problems.
What I have found is easiest is to hand the license and CCW permit to him at the same time (our are separate cards) and that way there’s no need to worry about what euphemism you’re going to use for “loaded gun”. The next question is usually “are you carrying now” Followed by “where is it?”. “On my right hip. How would you like me to proceed?”
Never once have I had any hassle while carrying.
I disagree with the both of you. And I live in Florida as well. In the state of Florida you are not only under no obligation by law to volunteer that you have a firearm in your vehicle, you should have been instructed in the gun class that you took to gain a concealed carry permit not to volunteer that information. If you weren’t, your instructor was not doing his job. You are only obligated by law to inform the officer if he “asks” if you have a gun or weapons in your vehicle. And when you offer up your CWP instead of your DL and registration, you are giving away information that with out the officer asking, he has no legal right to. And it is also redundant because he will still demand your DL and registration regardless of what other identification you may present to him. Remember, this is a “traffic stop” for the purposes of determining whether or not you have broken any traffic laws. And also, unless the officer is a rookie, he already knows that by law you do not have to volunteer that information unless directly asked. So when you offer that information with out him asking, it might throw up some red flags for him. And if he is a rookie he might feel you are flaunting the fact that you have a gun. The best policy about a situation like that is “if not asked, don’t tell”. You will be well with in the law and your civil rights. When you become a concealed carry gun owner, you have entered a sect of society that are secret keepers. You not only wear you gun in such a fashion as to keep it concealed at all times, you never tell any one (not including officers of the law who ask if you are armed) that you have a gun on your person. It will create more problems letting people know that you are armed then not telling them will every single time, hands down. I have a brother and sister who don’t even know I own a gun, let alone that I carry concealed. It just defeats the purposes of having a CWP to let any one know. Might as well wear it like a cowboy on your side in one of those low hanging belts. And also, letting the wrong people know that you are armed might be taken as a threat or challenge. And in this day and age with all the sickos out their, one of them might just be crazy take up that perceived challenge, especially if they see it as a slight against them.
Look, I could drone on and on about situations that go can wrong if people have the knowledge that you are armed. I could probably write a few books on that subject alone. But the book I would write about some one keeping their gun a secret would go some thing like this “He went to the store and was pulled over by the police, the traffic stop was uneventful” or “The killer had no idea that his prey was armed, which is why he is dead and that his intended prey made it home to his family that night”.
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