'I'm not arrestable'
By Lt. Jim Glennon, Lombard, IL (ret.)
The words "I'm not arrestable" were uttered by a motorist to Las Cruces, New Mexico rookie Police Officer Carlos Wooten moments after the officer initiated a traffic stop on the man. Though the stop happened over eight years ago, Wooten, now a much more veteran officer, will never forget what happened next.
As Wooten was attempting to talk to the motorist the man decided to walk away from the Officer rather than answer his queries. As Wooten began to issue orders the noncompliant motorist said to him, "I'm not arrestable."
Officer Wooten recovered from his wounds and was back at work within three weeks.
In the Calibre Press Street Survival Seminar, the instructors often ask this question to the attendees: "Before people attack us, what do they do?" Veteran officers are quick to recognize the point of the question and are just as quick to shout out the correct answer: "They tell us!"
And the officers are absolutely right. Though I know of no specific studies that have tracked how often bad guys reveal their nefarious intentions to the police officers they plan on attacking, veterans around the country know that these warnings happen all the time. And it is this communication of an impending attack that I want to address. Officer Wooten was warned by his attacker prior to the actual assault and he took that warning to heart. Perhaps that is the reason he is alive and still fighting crime today.
Most people who interact with police officers comply with orders and answer questions willingly. However on occasion, some have criminal assault on their minds. They don't want to comply or answer questions; they want to control and defeat authority.
In Officer Wooten’s case the assailant leaked his intentions through the words he used: "I'm not arrestable." Perhaps he believed that he was not subject to the officer's authority. Maybe his general anti-social and belligerent outlook surfaced verbally as he contemplated his next move. Whatever the reason, he unquestionably indicated to Wooten that he was not open to an arrest scenario. "I'm not arrestable," spoke volumes to a police officer who was paying attention.
There are any number of examples in which specific words or phrases used by people indicate their true intent and may actually telegraph an impending attack. They are usually uttered as the situation evolves but, as in Officer Wooten's case, they may occur at the outset of the interaction. Some of the most common and recognizable of these examples are:
An infamous incident that involved a young female patrol officer in Texas illustrates this phenomenon. While engaged in conversation with the man she stopped, dispatch advised that the motorist was wanted.
Body language examples are infinite when it comes to leaking evil intent. Police officers need to pay particular attention to any of the following while dealing with people that begin to exhibit noncompliant tendencies:
Finally, the paralinguistic (rate of speech, tone, vocal pitch, hesitations, the lack of spoken discourse and timing) indicators:
Watching the dozens of videos shown throughout the two-day Calibre Press Street Survival Seminar that depict officers engaged in physical confrontations with citizens affords attendees the opportunity to identify many of these pre-attack indicators. However, recognizing these behaviors is easy when you are sitting in a nonstressed environment surrounded by hundreds of other law enforcement officers. Observing predatory mannerisms and picking up warning signs communicated by a criminal is effortless when the image is projected on a 10 x 12 video screen.
In the real world, officers often find themselves confronting hostile offenders in an ever changing and violent environment. Weather, lighting conditions, multiple subjects, nosey and intrusive spectators are just some of the things that distract an officer’s attention from his/her main adversary. So it is imperative that police officers study and be consciously aware of pre-attack indicators. They must be able to recognize them as they are presented. For if they can recognize the signs, that recognition may be what affords them the opportunity to stop an attack before it can be initiated.
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