Your Attitude determines your Altitude.
That isn’t New Age hippy garbage. I’m not saying your outlook and treatment of others will determine how high you soar in personal growth. (Although, technically, that’s accurate.)
No, I’m saying if you’re an asshole and refuse to do as you are lawfully ordered, you may be thrown to the ground…or land there as a result of receiving quite a few volts of electricity.
I’m a literal guy. No creative word play in this post.
“Why, MC, whatever led you to say such a thing?”
I’m glad you asked.
I was headed back to the PD to put the bike to bed (you know, whisper sweet nothings and give her a pat on the tank) when I happened upon a most confusing scene.
Traffic is fairly heavy in the area around the freeway right after school gets out. All I say when I rolled up was a large pickup blocking an intersection and it appeared it may have been involved in a collision. I hit the emergency lights and pulled up anticipating having to take a crash right before the end of shift.
Much to my surprise, the pickup pulled onto the on ramp to the freeway. Okay, I figured he was moving his vehicle out of the intersection and maybe needed help in some other fashion.
Still, it’s a freeway on ramp, so when the driver got out of the truck, I told him to sit back down in his truck.
He just stared at me.
I told him again to get back in the truck.
Now he started to walk towards me. And he looked pissed off.
I repeated myself significantly more forcefully as the adrenaline dumped into my system. I put my hand on my gun and pushed down one level of retention because at first his hands weren’t clear. As he cleared the bed of the truck, I could see his hands.
I was mildly relieved, but still not real happy at his refusal to follow orders. I put my hand on my taser as he continued to advance.
He stopped and asked me “Why the fuck are you stopping me? Are you gonna shoot me?”
I told him I would indeed if the need arose and I’d explain why I stopped him after he got back in the truck. He finally complied.
They say non-verbal communication is mostly how our meaning is conveyed. Well, I must have been conveying something right because an officer from another agency pulled over and gave me the ubiquitous Code 4 sign (four fingers up…see also, “You good?”). I shook my head and he got out to assist.
I walked over to the passenger side (duh) and asked dude what the problem was. He went on to insult my lineage and chosen profession. He told me I was being “obtuse”. I congratulated him on his choice of words, but I still decided it was time to get him back out of the truck. This time he complied immediately.
He again asked me “why the fuck” I was stopping him and that it felt like “tyranny”.
Tyranny and obtuse! Is there such a thing as tyrannical obtuseness? I should have asked him…but I didn’t.
He went on to call me a “bitch-ass pussy” and was none too pleased when I patted him down for weapons based on his demeanor and aggression.
I told him that, believe it or not, I initially stopped him because I thought he either needed help or was in a crash.
I went on to say, “Let me ask you a question. Based on the way you’ve been acting and calling me a ‘bitch-ass pussy’, just how in the fuck did you expect me to treat you?! If someone were to jump out of their car at you and act like a crazy person, what would you do?”
By now, there are four cops around him and he has had a few moments to reconsider his approach to the situation.
I actually saw his shoulders drop and his whole demeanor change. He looked right at me and said, “Yeah, I can see that. I’m sorry I was an asshole.”
I asked him if he was just having a bad day. He said it wasn’t his best. I said I understood that, but that it could have ended up significantly worse. He agreed. At the end of the encounter we ended up shaking hands and he apologized again.
I thanked him for not making me shoot him. I’m not sure he found it as amusing as I did.
The Attitude Test doesn’t just apply to the non-LEOs, by the way. I could have handled the situation a lot differently…and I would have been justified in doing so. But meeting aggression with aggression isn’t always the way to go.
Sometimes, it’s unavoidable. Other times, though, if we have the time, the inclination, and the ability, using verbal skills are not only less painful, they require a lot less paperwork. If my attitude had sucked, this detail had the potential to go monumentally bad.
So remember, whilst our LEO mindset is “you will comply”, there are a myriad of manners from which to choose in order to remove the pelt from a feline.
Okay, so I lied about the clever word play.