10 ways to raise a police officer's suspicion

After a few years it becomes second nature for an officer to observe and act accordingly when presented with these indicators

Some things will capture the attention of an officer and be cause for further investigation. Absent anything else, they don’t mean a lot, but add in some other factors, reasonable suspicion builds and an experienced officer will become a whole lot more curious.

After a few years it becomes second nature for an officer to observe and act accordingly when presented with these indicators. Some rookies struggle initially and others seem to have a knack for finding them and building solid cases.

Sometimes the indicators change because of technology and other factors. It’s an ever-evolving process, but here are a few of my favorites:

The "oh shit" look.

1. Looney Tunes eyes.

If you happen to be patrolling and run across the individual who sees you and gets the “oh shit” look immediately followed by looking away and refusing to acknowledge your existence, it may be a good clue that he or she is up to something they shouldn’t be. Or maybe at that exact moment they sharted, you know, because that can happen too.

2. “I swear ___________.”

As soon as the phrase begins, odds are whatever follows will be absolute bullshit. I’m not sure why it’s the first thing that comes to mind, but very few truthful comments ever begin with any combination of “I swear to God,” “I swear on my mama’s grave,” etc.

3. The hotboxed car.

Once upon a time, if you rolled up on a car that looked like a cloud sprouted up inside it, you just found some folks who watched “Up in Smoke” a few too many times. No need to smell it, it was definitely marijuana, because no cigarette smoker enjoys sitting in that much smoke. Now it seems like the odds have been reduced because of the vaping crowd that create such a cloud with little effort.

4. “These aren’t my pants.”

Someone with a jailhouse JD created the fallacy that if you tell the cops the pants you're wearing don’t belong to you, it’s basically a free pass. I’ve had some pretty jacked up living arrangements in my time, yet I’ve never managed to accidentally pull on someone else’s pants. Not once. I’ve had a lot of people claim that they have, and without fail there’s always some kind of drug in the pockets.

5. The felony forest.

If an officer happens to stop a car with about 20 of the Little Tree air fresheners hanging from the rear view mirror, the driver either has some unfortunately horrible body odor, or he is trying to mask the smell of something you might be interested in knowing about. Just hope it’s not the B.O.

6. The trench coat.

Unless it’s cold or raining and there’s a shirt and tie poking out of the collar area, there’s never really a good time to wear a trench coat. Especially if it’s 90 degrees outside. If you see this guy, be prepared to see more of him than you want to see in case he’s getting ready to flash or streak. More importantly, you can hide a lot of shit inside a trench coat…like rifles, shotguns, and swords.

7. Crown Royal bags.

I like Canadian whisky as much as anyone else, but over the years I’ve found a lot of interesting things inside the little purple bags that come with Crown Royal. From heroin kits, pipes, marijuana, methamphetamine, and other illicit drugs and paraphernalia, dopers seem to feel secure hiding their wares inside the little felt bags.

8. Piss-soaked pants.

It’s happened after several foot pursuits, and I’ve had armed robbery suspects do it, but it’s not normal for an adult male to be in public in piss-soaked pants. Trying to stroll past a police perimeter with a huge wet spot on the crotch of your britches isn’t the wisest thing to do, especially when everything else you are wearing matches the description of the suspect we’re looking for on the perimeter. It’s been tried before, and I’m sure it’ll happen again.

9. Posturing for a fight during an interview.

It can come in a lot of forms, but if a suspect starts balling fists, widening a stance, and squaring off with an officer, chances are the fight is on. An officer missing these indicators is pretty likely to be getting his or her eyes crossed and teeth dotted–or worse. In my experience, a lot of these chuckleheads will peel off a shirt while posturing up, but if the suspect is already shirtless before the interaction begins, you won’t get the telltale sign that it’s on.

10. When something other than a “no” might mean “yes.”

Asking suspects if they have any weapons or drugs on them is a good thing, but I like to get specific and pay attention to the answers. For instance, if I have a reason to think that the person is a heroin user, I’ll start by asking if they have any weed, crack, or meth on them. Usually by asking known “no’s” first, I’ll get a baseline before trying to hit the nail on the head by asking specifically about heroin. If I get something other than the baseline “no,” I’ll have them elaborate. If they continue to stumble, it’s on to the consensual search after I badger them about how much I hate finding uncapped syringes.

I’ve encountered all of these more than once, because apparently those who belong to the criminal element in the Donut study the same manual. Let’s face it, these folks aren’t criminal masterminds. Most of these indicators are enough to arouse my suspicion, but absent other factors they aren’t enough to give anyone a one-way ticket to the Donut County Hotel.

Feel free to drop any that I missed in the comments and stay safe out there. It’s time to go patrol the Donut…

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