About . . . . Classes . . . . Books . . . . Vita . . . . Blog. . . . Podcast

by Peter Moskos

July 29, 2015

One way to do it

I have an opinion piece in today's Washington Post:
I told her to get back in her car several times, which she finally did reluctantly . I approached and asked for her license. She was on her phone saying she wanted a sergeant and another officer and added: “If I’m going to get shot, I want it to be recorded because I know this is recorded and I know my rights . . . if I get shot, I want it documented.”

She wouldn’t stop talking, yelling really, at me and into her phone : “He just pulled me over for being black. I can’t believe this would happen to me. There are all those drug dealers, and you’ve got to harass me!”
As I returned to my car, a call came over the radio for a woman being assaulted by a police officer at my location.
In light of the Sandra Bland car stop, I couldn't help but think of this one car stop I did, many years ago. Nobody got hurt.


Andrew Burton said...

Interesting story. A good part of it (as is, I'm sure, part of all good policing) is seeing things from the other person's angle if possible - something Officer Encinia seems to have had trouble with.

Here's my own story of a traffic stop from the civilian angle in 2007, not far from the scene of Bland's ill fated encounter:


Although I didn't know about officer safety protocols at the time, I could tell that the officer was trained to assert control. I was then a white, professional 47 year old man: I did wonder how the stop might have gone had I not been from that demographic. Possibly not differently - or possibly one of us might have interpreted the other's behavior differently.

For the record, at the time I genuinely did think the officer wasn't sure if I had some drugs in my system. I have been stopped one other time in 20 years in the US, for having an expired safety sticker. In both cases, the officers were professional (from my vantage point). The sticker stop was over quicker, though.

john mosby said...

If you were feeling mischievous, you could have shouted officer-safety commands while she was on the phone with 911:






Two can play at the phoney-phone-call game...


LLSimplifyLife said...

Hi, My name is Leah. I have an online radio show entitled Life, Love, No Chaser. You can look up the show on blogtalkradio.com/lifelovenochaser or on Facebook under Life, Love, No Chaser to get a feel for the type of shows we do. It's a relationship show but we also deal with topics of the day to inform and enlighten society.

On this Wednesday at 3 pm were doing a show called "Police Lives Matter". We need at least one or two police officers, active or retired to come on the show and talk about what a police officer's life is like in the streets. We want to hear about your dangerous situations and encounters, how some officers do experience ptsd and trauma, are not always racist or being harassing. We want you to share what your perspective or feelings are when dealing with the public at large. This show is meant to restore understanding, to show police in another much more positive light and to restore relations and respect on the side of the officer and the public.

If you or someone you know would be willing to do the interview on Wednesday, August 5, 2015 at 3 pm eastern, 12 noon pacific. It's a call in remote interview via phone. Please write me back.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.


Dustin Lafe said...

This piece reminds me of a traffic stop I made in South Salt Lake back around 2006 while I worked as State Trooper. The legal justification for the stop was a tail light out. It was during the day, in a bad part of town (yes, Utah does have them), and the car was old and beaten up. In my experience, these were all decent indicators of a possible warrant or something else.

Like the vast majority of my traffic stops, I didn't the know much of anything about the demographic characteristics of the driver because they honestly weren’t on my list of concerns. For officer safety reasons, what I worried about prior to making a traffic stop were the number of people in the car, whether the car was stolen, the environment around the immediate stopping area, and calling in my correct location to dispatch.

When I finally made contact with the driver, I was more than a little surprised when I realized the driver was a black male in his twenties. The driver immediately accused me of racial profiling and was verbally abusive, swearing and making fun of me for stopping him for his tail light out. He then handed over his DL information without much of a fuss and didn’t come up with a suspended DL or warrants. In these circumstances, I always issued a warning, but I considered changing my mind simply because the guy was a dick to me.

Fortunately, common sense prevailed. I wrote up a warning (which were catalogued electronically in our system at the time) and delivered it to the driver saying, “while I’m sure you feel justified in your opinion, I had no idea what you looked like before I stopped you and pretty much never do when I stop a vehicle. In fact, you are the first African-American I have ever stopped.” I don’t think he believed me, but he had to know he was in Utah.

So I wasn’t racially profiling and i didn’t escalate an awkward situation into a dangerous situation with potentially life changing consequences. But I certainly profiled his vehicle in a area with lots of criminal activity. Is that okay?

On that note, I think a nuanced analysis of traffic stop data would yield some interesting trends related to socio-economic profiling, even over racial profiling. If only it was so easy to check a “poor/disadvantage” box on a ticket or warning as it is to check the “race” box…

Thrasher said...

Nothing of value here on this blog...Just another apologist for the Police and continued contempt for Black Americans in our nation.

The author of this marginal blog does not confront the pathological themes of racism in White America...

RACE trumps everything in America yet the author of this blog lacks the intellectual courage to address this reality in his work..



campbell said...

traffic stop I made in South Salt Lake back around 2006 while I worked as State Trooper

Trolling down on State Street?

Anonymous said...

Thrasher, you are an abysmal writer. I can't believe I just read both of your articles. The writing was so bad I could barely comprehend what you were trying to argue. Just look at this sentence, which you actually wrote and published on the internet:

"Yet this type of crime data has little currency and shock value for the media industry tales of crimes and victims suffering at the end of a gun of a nasty crack head has more bite and as such more ratings and the potential of more eyeballs, blog hits, advertisement fees and data which is based upon sound inferences and accurate crime findings."

Holy shit. My brain hurts.

As for your criticism of this blog, what's your beef, exactly? That Moskos doesn't remind his readers at the start of every post that racism is still a real thing? Oh, wait, I think I know. You want him to attribute all of society's ills--including police misconduct--to White America's persistent effort to keep black people down. Took the words out of your mouth, didn't I? Yep, no need to search for other root causes of police problems. "Race trumps everything," as you say. Whatever the hell that means.

Anonymous said...


Did you catch that Darren Wilson profile in The New Yorker? I'd love to read your opinion.

From Canada

Dustin Lafe said...

Campbell -- yup, that's right -- trolling on State Street

bacchys said...

Nobody got hurt?

You'd never cut it as a cop these days...

IrishPirate said...

We're winning the drug war.

There is light, and water, at the end of the tunnel.