I just finished up a quick segment on WKLIF in Dallas about interacting with the police while armed. It is a topic that I have been speaking about quite often lately. For over two decades, I have been on both sides of this interaction and had it go very well and not so well at times. Having worked as a police officer in both urban & rural environments and dealt with many people who were armed (legally or illegally), there are definitely, I can assure you that your behavior, actions and attitude can have a dramatic affect on the officer’s perception of safety.
I prefer the idea of “Cooperate”, over the traditional advice of “comply” when it comes to interactions with the police while armed. The idea is to de-escalate any potential tension, not increase any tension already existing because of the officer’s concerns. If you are carrying gun for personal defense, you should have a good idea of the types of behaviors or motions that could alarm a police officer. Some quick tips:
1. Always calmly let the officer know that you are legally armed with a gun or any other defensive tool. Tell them, don’t show them.
Regardless of whether or not it is required by law, this is always a good idea.
2. Keep you hands visible,and don’t make any sudden movements.
3. Keep you hands open when possible and away from the part of your body where any defensive tool is concealed.
4. Remember that the officer you are talking to may not be the only officer watching you, there may another officer observing from a different angle that can see things as well.
5. Keep your ID and CCW Permit on your body at a spot where there are no defensive tools so that accessing them can be done without simultaneously reaching towards something the officer could consider threatening.
6. Lower tinted windows, turn your interior light on at night and place your hands (with fingers splayed open) on the steering wheel when an officer approaches your vehicle.
These simple tips can help you to de-escalate any interaction with police officers and let them quickly know that you mean them no harm and intend to cooperate with them, regardless of the nature of the interaction. As the number of CCW Permit Holders has grown dramatically, I.C.E. Training Company has also been educating police officers about interacting safely and professionally with armed citizens for many years. For more information on interacting with police while armed, check out the DVD we produced on the topic several years ago.