Cooperating with Police While Armed

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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, thoroughly review HERE.

-RJP
Discussion
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31 Responses to “Cooperating with Police While Armed”
  1. Eileen Card

    This is good information. High Schools across America need a video or visits from you or police, explaining how to interact whether they are not armed and how to cooperate. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Will Rodriguez

    Great advice except for the first point.

    Always informing the police you are legally armed isn’t sound. If it’s required by the state or asked sure but other times it can simply provoke a trained reaction from the officer that escalates the situation. Not all police are trained the same and not all police have the same attitude about lawful carry. I advise my students to follow state law, never lie and only introduce one has a gun if the interaction requires it e.g. you have to move your hand near the gun to comply with a request/command.

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    • Alan Goldstein

      Sorrry, I agree with every one of Robs steps. It’s better to follow each of the steps than have the officer find out on his or her own that you are carrying and did not disclose it. Everyday officers are advised that someone they pulled over is carrying. As long as you have the permits, why hide it? The one thing I would add is for the driver to ask the officer how they would like to proceed from there.

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      • Ronald Krebs

        Nope. Sorry, Mr. Goldstein. I agree with Mr. Rodriguez. There will be times that you forget, you’re carrying if you always keep a firearm in the glove compartment for example. You may be wondering why the cop pulled you over. “Was I speeding?” In any case, I agree that telling a cop who stopped you because your left rear taillight is out, that “Oh by the way, I have a loaded weapon in the car” would not necessarily relieve the tension. But, if he asks you to step out of the vehicle because he thinks you might be inebriated, I would certainly do as he/she asks and then tell them about you CCW AFTER you’re out of the car. This shows him/her that you want to keep it low level. And, in my state, it is not mandatory to offer CCW info.

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      • Michael Chambers

        I agree with Alan on this one, and I think that Will is giving his students bad advice. Sorry Will. I think there are a lot more officers who will not react well to finding out later in an encounter that you are carrying a weapon than there are who would when told up front. As to where you carry your ID, etc., My plan is to let the officer know where the weapon is, and where the ID is, then asking them how they want me to proceed. I’ll be happy to get out of my truck, spread eagle, and let them get my wallet or disarm me themselves – anything to keep them from feeling threatened by me.

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      • David

        Why hide it? Why do you think we have the 5th Amendment? If they ask you, yes you tell. If the law requires it, yes, you tell. Until then sit there and keep your friggin mouth shut unless asked a question and THEN answer truthfully in as few words as possible. A police officer is almost never your friend, not on the job. That doesn’t mean they are the enemy either. But you CAN talk yourself into a free ride downtown that otherwise would not have happened if you kept your lips zipped. Also, not all police officers are cool with the 2nd amendment and CC or OC and upon discovering you are legally armed will proceed to give you major shit over it.

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      • Guy Mastellone

        I’m sorry Alan I have to agree with Will here. You can easily escalate a simple traffic stop by throwing the concealed carry into the mix. An untrained or new officer may not know how to handle the situation as well and basically open a “can of worms” for no reason. Will did say if the situation does require you reaching for or needing to access your ID near the weapon, you should then reveal you’re carrying and with hands on the wheel ask the officer how they would like you to proceed, so he or she feels comfortable. Again, never lie either. I think we all know how hard their job is, why add to it.

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    • Leon Frank De Haan

      In many states a law enforcement officers already know if the person who the vehicle is registered to has a CPL. Anything that causes suspicion is going escalate a situation. This points are very good and need to be drilled into the heads of any CPL holder and applicant. They will save lives!

      Reply
  3. Richard

    I always thought it was best to hand your CCW license to the LEO with your driver’s license.

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  4. Craig S. Andersen

    I am a former felony narcotics prosecutor and have gone armed with my drug task force. I give people the same advice. I go so far as describing the location of the gun.

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  5. gordon miller

    If you’re carrying concealed and the stop is routine, what’s the point in telling the officer that you’re carrying unless the law demands it?

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    • Dave

      This ^^^^ In my state you do not have to inform an officer that you are carrying.
      And like others have said not all police officers are cool with the 2nd amendment and CC or OC

      Reply
  6. Roy

    Thankyou, I have always wondered what I would do. Other cc owners in my state say don’t let them know! What are you kidding me? Honesty will always get better cooperation with local and state law enforcement.
    I can only carry if I am hunting, target shooting or fishing. Even though I carry a conceal carry for the state of New York, (it is a county thing).
    Thankyou for further training and advice.

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  7. wayne

    Being respectful is ” always proper” for You and for Me to exercise to everyone. In the case of Policeman (law enforcement) who are responsible for ALL of our safety, it is more important than ever. I agree with all the steps outlined above. Most importantly, if armed or not , 1. Keep hands in plain view which means on the steering wheel. with fingers shown and at ease. 2.Put a smile on your face and allow everyone to relax. Show a compliant attitude when an officer approaches and engages you. He really is” in Charge” !f threaten he will shoot you. Not a good thing. If this feels uncomfortable most likely because of your ignorance or ignoring the laws. You may not even know what you did! Be they are still “In charge”. 3. Put a smile on your face. It is almost never what you say, but how you say it. Again I say, Put a smile on your face. Pretend you are his friend. You want them to be your friend. Act accordingly. If you want friends act friendly. . What ever the reason the officer stopped you for is most probalbly YOUR fault. Speeding, Bad driving habits, tail light our, etc. 4. KJV Proverbs 15:1  ¶A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. 5. Talk respectful and in a low tone. Act friendly, compliant, pretend that you are Law Abiding. Ha. That goes for everyone including police officers. 5. This is just the Golden Rule. Matthew 7:12  ¶Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. Thanks for listening to God’s great advice from the His Holy Word.

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  8. Albert Pelliccia

    Cooperation is not the only thing an officer observes ATTITUDE can play a large part in any confrontation keeping a level head and demeaner play big rolls

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  9. Jon

    Good advice Rob and understand some people’s concerns about their rights. But, I think sometimes folks get a little over zealous and that alone may cause problems. If you get pulled and you have nothing to hide what’s the big deal? When I get pulled over and the officer asks to see my license, like they always do, I show it and my carry license at the same time. Now he knows I’m probably carrying. They usually thank me and ask where it is and if I have to retrieve anything I tell them where I am reaching and what I’m reaching for. If they ask to see my firearm, that’s a different story. So far I have never had one ask to see my firearm. Officer’s have been great and I appreciate them for that. …CarryOn!

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  10. Jim Papen

    Excellent counsel. Instructors I have had have suggest language such as, “I have a concealed carry permit and I have it with me.” Allow the officer to ask you if you are armed and where the weapon is located. My instructors always discouraged the use of the word, “gun”. Just another perspective, since words matter when tensions could be high. I appreciate the wisdom and practical knowledge you offer to us.

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  11. Jeff Broughton

    I have been in this situation a few times and my experience has been the officers appreciate the visible hands, window down, declaration of a firearm and then ask “How would you like to proceed?”
    Keep up the great work.

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  12. Larry ROSE

    In the state of Colorado do I have to tell a police officer that Im carry while in my car

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    • Customer Service

      Hi Larry. According to Colorado Statute as of today, No there is not a duty to inform. It is recommended that you take the time to read the statue for yourself and consult with an attorney if it isn’t clear. The statue is 18-12-204. (2) (a) and a direct link can be found here: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cbi/chpstatutes

      Reply
  13. Don Gaskill

    I live in Oklahoma. Our law is that I must inform any LLEO that I am carrying and I do have a permit. I was stopped at the side of the hwy on a phone call and our local Hiway Patrol trooper stopped behine me. He was just making sure I was ok. When he came to the side of my car, I rolled down the windo and after he asked if all was ok, I informed him that I was carrying and did have a permit. He did not even ask to see it, but did ask what I was carrying. I told him and he then ask to see it. I removed the gun with just 2 fingers and handed it to him. He said, “nice weapon” and handed it back and said, “have a great day?.My position on this is “if you act civil, you will be treated as such”.

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  14. Usmcguy

    As a former police officer I agree with Rob, if the backup officer watching sees a gun, your going to get the fully treatment at gun point. I’ve been in the vehicle with federal officers working undercover and got stopped for traffic by uniformed PD, they were all ready on yellow as the tag came back not on file. Our driver just kept his hands on the wheel, and told the officer, I’m armed, I have my credentials in my left back pocket, gun is in holster on right hip. No big deal after ID was checked. Also keep some spare Ammo in the trunk, a Las Vegas PD Sgt who teaches CCW told me they stop armed folks all day long, it’s not a big deal, we may ask to see the gun (run it NCIC to make sure it’s not stolen), at the end of the stop I will give you back your unloaded gun. Do you really think I’m going to write you a traffic ticket then hand you back a loaded gun?

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    • Dave

      Usmcguy, there’s one reason why I do not inform. You have run the gun thru NCIC, obviously you now by know the gun is legal, but you are going to unload it because you gave me a citation? You should know by now I’m not a threat to you.

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      • Dave

        Usmcguy, there’s one reason why I do not inform. You have run the gun thru NCIC, obviously you now know the gun is legal, but you are going to unload it because you gave me a citation? You should know by now I’m not a threat to you.

        Sorry for the double post, I had to edit.

        Reply
  15. PAUL DE LEON

    I AGREE WITH TELLING THE POLICE UP FRONT, WITH THE CURRENT RACIAL TENSIONS DIVIDED (THANKS TO A BALL LESS PRESIDENT) COPS FEEL THE TARGET ON THEIR BACK MORE THAN EVER WHETHER THEY AGREE WITH THE PUBLIC CARRYING CONCEALED OR NOT I THINK THE KEY TO THIS AND ALL SITUATIONS WHEN YOU GET PULLED OVER IS “KNOW YOUR RIGHTS” SO MANY PEOPLE DON’T THEIR RIGHTS THEY GET THEMSELVES IN A JAM BE RESPECTFUL BUT ALSO BE ASSERTIVE AND KNOWLEDGEABLE REMEMBER “KNOWLEDGE IS POWER”

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  16. Lauren

    Before the officer gets to my vehicle I normally have my ID and CCW permit out and ready to show him. This way he doesn’t need to worry about me rummaging through my things to find them.

    Great tip about the interior light. My dad always told me to do that growing up.

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  17. Joanna alan

    I’m a police officer myself. You have really written this article very well. For all the people out there if you have a gun and you cooperate with us then you have nothing to worry about.

    Reply
  18. Edward Blocker

    We have a police force to provide citizens with a sense of safety and security. The
    police are there to maintain peace and order in society as well as prevent and detect
    crime. They are there as the law enforcers – to make sure that everyone, including
    the police force itself, follows the law at every step.

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  19. Tom Ginevra

    Forget whether it’s law or not, it’s just common sense to diffuse any potential situation and let everyone, especially the police force know all the information at that moment – really good advice, thanks for the post

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  20. elsa cannon

    While armed when you see a police official you should always be calm so that you don’t do anything stupid in front of Police. If you do anything stupid the Police might feel a threat. Always remain calm and keep your weapon inside and then talk them through the situation.

    Reply