Traffic stops, professional courtesy, and conduct unbecoming
In order to be granted professional courtesy, you first must be professional and courteous
Two off-duty officers — one in full uniform and driving his squad car, the other in ‘civvies’ and driving his personally-owned vehicle — got into a roadside beef during a traffic stop in Baton Rouge (La.). Dash-cam video of the incident surfaced yesterday, and we posted a brief news item about it.
Neither officer in the video comes out looking all that great — a fact which is reflected in many of your comments beneath yesterday’s news story.
Officer David Stewart — who was off duty and outside his jurisdiction at the time — pursued a white pick-up truck he observed doing about twice the posted speed limit. The stop was not handled perfectly.
The driver of the truck, Corporal Brian Harrison, demonstrated behaviors at the stop which would put just about any civilian driver in custody. The phrase “conduct unbecoming” immediately springs to mind.
Do Unto Others
But it does provide an opportunity to talk about the notion of “professional courtesy” with regard to off-duty traffic violations.
Imagine you’ve stopped someone for a traffic violation. What does the ideal “violator” look like in your mind’s eye? Someone who is rational, reasonable, and maybe even apologetic, right? Someone who obeys your instructions and is responsive to your questions, right?
When you’re off duty in your POV and you’ve been stopped by another officer, make that “ideal violator” the model for your behavior.
• Keep your hands on the wheel
Handling Off-Duty Carry
You have to remember that when you’re armed and off duty, and stopped for a traffic violation, the order in which you divulge information pertinent to officer safety (read: “I have a weapon” and “I’m off-duty LEO”) matters.
Now, if you’re the cop doing the stop, don’t let your guard down just because someone says “I’m a cop.” Keep in mind the fact that good guys suddenly (and without warning) sometimes become bad guys.
The Golden (and Cerulean) Rule
I look at it this way: in order to be granted (or even considered for) professional courtesy, you first must be professional and courteous. Respect yourself and respect what the badge — not your badge, but THE badge — represents. And that goes for both parties at an off-duty LEO traffic stop.
If both individuals carry those values into the encounter, then they will both naturally (and mutually) behave in a respectful manner toward their fellow officer...
Stay safe out there my friends.
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