Thursday, February 16, 2012

Planning to be a cop? Be careful what you say...

Modern technology in squad cars can be beneficial to police officers on many levels.  Technological advances help provide information on MDTs, communicate with other officers and dispatchers, and record traffic stops and other activities that officers complete on a daily basis.  But, is there something to be concerned about with all of this, especially from the officer’s perspective?

In a recent incident in my community, a man pulled over for speeding filed a complaint against the Lincolnshire police officer who stopped him because he did not like the way that he was treated on the traffic stop.  The man set up a meeting with the chief of police to review the video from the traffic stop and discuss his feelings.  As the article mentions, the officers should know that their microphones are live while their cameras are on - and that they should be more cognizant of the way that they speak about citizens (especially when they are being recorded).

Take a look at the video here and see what you think:

In this situation, nothing that either officer or the dispatcher was illegal.  While it may not have been the best decision ever, the officers were not punished for their behavior.  In my opinion, actions like this by the officers could have been saved for a smarter time - such as when they were at the station or talking in person elsewhere.  Through my experience on ride-alongs and other activities that I have participated in with law enforcement, I understand that there are people who make officers frustrated or nervous, and what comes out of their mouth isn’t always high on the priority list.

According to the Kustom Signals website, the company who manufactures the in-car cameras that the Lincolnshire Police Department uses in its squad cars, the in-car camera and microphone are automatically activated when the lights on the car are turned on – and also record the 30 seconds prior to the lights being turned on.

Here is the website for Kustom Signals if you would like more information about the in-car cameras or other law enforcement technology.

The key here, in my opinion, is that there is a time and place for everything.  I don't think that there is necessarily anything wrong with the officers' behavior (especially because he felt nervous with the citizen reaching into his pocket), and while he should have explained the tickets at the end of the stop, he was polite and professional at the beginning (not on this version of the video).  If the citizen had not called to complain to the chief, then this video would probably not be on the internet, both of the tickets would have been prosecuted, and everyone would be on their way.  Because I, along with many other members of this class, plan to go into law enforcement, I think that this incident is a good opportunity to remind everyone to be careful what you say and when you say it – but most importantly, to always act in a professional manner.

As I mentioned before, the officers involved in this situation were not disciplined at all.  The chief took this as an opportunity to review proper procedure on traffic stops as well as police professionalism with all of his officers – not only the two involved.




  1. Very interesting. I think this officer acted very proper, and was quite professional. I don't know if it was the video quality, but this officer acted very good in this situation. This citizen reached in his pocket which could have anything (drugs, weapons) but the officer told the citizen without yelling, or using force, the only thing he did do was raise his voice. I feel his actions were proper and the citizen deserved all tickets, because he was the ignorant person.

    The chief of Police should use this video for learning purposes because the officer used discretion and held his license for his misdeeds and told him his name is on all copies of the tickets. Yeah, this was a tough situation, but go Lincolnshire police, because he was well

    but i never knew they recorded so much audio, and the exact timing during the switch for the lights...

    great article to go with the ending portion of ethics and judgement calls!

  2. To be honest, I do not find anything that was too unprofessional in this video. Although, the officer should have taken the time to explain why the patron got the tickets and the ticket process. Obviously the officer was nervous that the guy was reaching in his pockets and when the officer told him not to do it then the patron proceeded to give the officer attitude. Sometimes, what goes around, comes around, and one can only take so much attitude without giving it back. The officer did not cuss the guy out or yell at him which would undoubtedly be unprofessional behavior.

    I am glad the officer did not receive any type of reprimand because I doubt there is anything in the department's policy that the officer would of disobeyed. The only learning experience to come of this is to know when to speak and when not to and even though you may be irritated or nervous, always try to maintain a professional attitude. For the most part, the officer handled this just fine.

  3. Interesting post, however I'm not very sure the officer in this video really did anything wrong. When the other officer arrived at the scene the first just described what had happened. The only moment that seemed kind of off was when the first officer said "He's going to get a bunch of tickets, he has a bad attitude", or something of that nature. Other than that I think the whole situation occurred solely because of the individual who had been pulled over. The officer reacted when the individual suddenly reached in to his pocket, which he was in the right to do to ensure his own safety. After that occurred the man acted out and took an attitude with the officer.

    To be honest, not every person who has a run in with a police officer on the streets is going to be happy about the way the situation turned out. No one likes being stopped and receiving tickets. Officers have to react to each and every situation differently depending on what occurs. I think given this situation the officer handled it very well and maintained a decent professional attitude. He did not yell at or really react to the individuals actions to his face, and he did not result to using force. I don't really see what else you could ask of the man.

  4. I dont think the active officer did anything wrong he was very professional in my opinion. I do think he started to get cocky as the other officer came as back up. It still wasnt inappropriate, I also dont believe the guy getting pulled over had a bad attitude. He just had questions for the cop, I mean seriously who wouldnt be upset if they had just gotten pulled over.
    I am glad no one was fired and the chief is going to be reviewing procedures with the officers.

  5. I think that he also acted very professional. Despite what people think, people DO respond to force. Not always in a positive way though. In this situation by raising his voice, I honestly think he acted better than most. When your dealing with someone that is ignorant and he then reaches into his pocket for something, the officer could have acted in a way that protects him self. I think that despite public view, I think officers are allowed to act in a way that protects them. Often times though, this act is taken out on undeserving people. That is why they get such a bad reputation.But its not with out purpose, usually.

  6. When I was watching this video I kept waiting for the officer to say something completely inappropriate but I saw nothing wrong with what he was doing. No one ever likes to get pulled over and I have seen citizens complain over the stupidest things.I don't think there was anything wrong with the stop other than it he should have turned the microphone off when he was talking to the other officer.