How to Deal with the Police?

When I was growing up on the South Side of Chicago on Euclid Avenue, seven blocks north from where Michelle Obama grew up, my father taught me many valuable life lessons.

One that I remember quite vividly was what to do when I was stopped by a Chicago policeman while driving. My dad had illustrated his approach a few times while I observed from the car. He was proud of his skill and execution.

He told me, “Lloyd, right after you stop the car, turn off the motor and immediately get out of the car, stand erect, and walk up to the police car while the cop is still in the car. Apologize if you were speeding or made a driving error.” My dad had used this strategy successfully a number of times. He had also perfected the folded $20 bill concealed under the driver’s license play, which he was extremely proud of.

I never had the bold courage to do the folded bill, but I did try the jump out of the car routine a few times until a polite policeman told me quite forcefully to stay in the car with my hands on the wheel.


When black kids get their license they get very different instructions. My wife tells me that the parents of her black students live in mortal fear of their children being stopped by the cops and being harassed, or worse.

Ben Cohen of the Wall Street Journal wrote a nice piece Monday about Malcom Brogdon, who plays guard for the Indiana Pacers. Brogdon recounted the advice he received when he was 16 from his grandfather, who happened to be a civil rights leader. When he was given the family’s old green Toyota Avalon he had to sign a binding legal contract before he got behind the wheel, which set forth how he was to behave if he ever was stopped by the police.

Brogdon said, “I was taught to put my hands on the steering wheel, to turn off the music, to roll down every window of the car, to put my blinkers and emergency hazards on, and sit there silently and comply with the officer until he let you go.”

Brogdon followed the instructions correctly and came out ok when he eventually did get stopped. His mother, a professor at Morehouse College, says she was relieved but still fears another incident could get out of control.


A couple days ago, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, which usually disagree about everything, wrote remarkably similar pieces about rogue police behavior toward African-Americans. Both articles pointed out the terrible role played by police unions, insulating bad cops from being kicked off the force or being prosecuted. The union seems to think it is their sacred obligation to protect even the dirtiest of cops, especially in cases of racial targeting.

The need to clean up police practices in America is not a liberal vs conservative or Democrat against Republican issue. We desperately need order today, but the endemic fear African Americans have toward the police is bad for the whole country. Blunting the power of police unions is one thing that America can agree on.

It is doable if partisan blabbing doesn’t get in the way.

I much prefer it to the $20 under the license that I never had the guts to try anyway.

Question: Are the police being persecuted? 


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12 thoughts on “How to Deal with the Police?

  1. Ralph Dahlgren

    Without being too critical of the people that serve their cities and towns as elected officials the negotiation of the union contracts has resulted in too many civil employees being sheltered from discipline and or dismissal. This happened over decades, one paragraph at a time and was motivated by a never ending desire for the unions to get more power and influence for their dues paying membership. Contractual negotiations are typically not for the average citizen of the average city or town. I believe that everyone’s heart is in the right place but that the collective bargaining agreements have given the rotten apples the opportunity to hang on to the tree branches and there is not a great deal of recourse due to the legal impact of the contract. No pruning allowed!

  2. Lisa

    With all due respect to your father, ANYONE approaching a policeman, especially in the manner described in your article, while still in his vehicle is NEVER OK. How, in the world, is that officer supposed to know your intent? NO. You do what was Brogdon (and almost every other driver) was taught, you turn down your radio (so you can be heard as well as hear what the officer is saying), you roll down your window and place both hands on your steering wheel. When you are asked to see your license and registration, you inform the officer of where your license and/or registration is and SLOWLY reach for them.

      1. Doug

        I respectfully disagree about having license and registration ready. When pulled over, you should be idle with your hands on the steering wheel at 10/2 O’clock. The officer doesn’t know what you are reaching for if he is approaching your vehicle. Training would have the officer prepared for the worst, do not make them any more nervous than they already are. They know less about what they are approaching then you know about them.

  3. Bill Badura

    Don’t know the answer to your question. Some probably deserve some persecution
    and others our admiration.
    What I do know is that they are necessary to a functioning society and the calls to de-fund them makes no sense.
    3 things that should go away:
    1) Qualified immunity. Cops shouldn’t be allowed an excuse that wouldn’t work for an 8-year old kid. Works great for bad cops and the good ones never need it.
    2) Police unions. (You stated the problems well, Lloyd)
    3) Civil asset forfeiture. I understand taking assets resulting from illegal activity. Makes sense to me. On the other hand, taking a person’s money, not charging them with a crime, and leaving them with the burden of proving the innocence of their money, sounds like theft to me.
    And sending it to the Feds, so that they can keep 20% and send the rest back, lets states get around laws dictating how that money should be used. Sounds like money laundering to me.

    I’ve known some great cops and some not so great; changing some things would maybe make it easier to weed out the not-so-great.

  4. Jeff

    How about sticking to related subject matter. This has nothing to do with machining. Do you just simply jump on any political band wagon for content.

    Seriously, leave this crap to the mainstream media.

    1. Bill Badura

      There are other places to talk machining. As someone who usually has a few chips hanging on and wakes most days thinking of a pressing job or problem part, I appreciate
      the chance to think of something else. Here, when a question is asked, it isn’t bait; just someone trying to understand the world.

  5. Gordy

    Cops are people; Some are great, some not so much
    Growing up in a small town, it was easy for a cop to take an hour and come to Drivers Ed and give us all a little speech on how to act. Don’t get out of the car unless asked, keep your hands in plain sight at all times, and no fast motions. This will result in a much more harmonious experience. While I cant say I loved them, they were upstanding guys kids could learn from rather than fear.
    One thing that stuck with me., and I can still practically quote it. “It isn’t worth my job to take a $100 bribe from you, so don’t ever try it lest you have some much more serious consequences.” I would bet that is different in a city, but based on that comment, I never even tried. I am guessing a 20 is less attractive, but I am only talking about the 70’s.
    I have done this every time I have been pulled over, even in some pretty lopsided situations (165MPH turned them right around, but if you understand how the Motorola works, you might as well stop and minimize the damage) but never got the any kind of beating.
    Not trying to bullship them helps a bit too, because no matter what you think of, they have already heard that and more. Don’t dig a hole and you wont have to crawl out of one.

  6. Bryan

    I would like to see the Internal Affairs investigators who handled the 15 complaints against Chauvin standing in the defendants box with him. Out of 15 complaints he was verbally reprimanded twice. That is an entire division of law enforcement who simply did not do their jobs. Their “leadership” was an example for all of the other officers that behavior like this is tolerated. We are a nation of laws not a nation of people, factions or culture.
    Without enforcement, laws mean nothing. Doing away with the enforcement end of things is so fundamentally absurd it defies logic. Yet at this very moment we have leaders that are entertaining these “tantrums” of what can only be described as hate groups like Antifa..what next America?

  7. Paul Huber

    Paul Huber,

    A few bad apples are getting away as their state law and/or union contract will not allow to share disciplinary actions with anyone.
    Such actors just move on to another state with identical laws and/or union contacts. Guess what happens down the road a short time thereafter.

  8. fred f

    No one’s protesting Civil asset forfeiture.
    No one’s demanding change specifically to police self policing and internal affairs failure as a system.
    No one’s calling for independent investigating of complaints against the police.
    No one’s demanding a ‘3 strikes and you’re out’ policy for complaints against bad cops.
    But they are destroying and burning the businesses of innocent citizens while the police stand back and let those crimes be committed.
    The USA is in dire straits.
    I’m very sorry for what happened to George F, a multiple convicted felon, brutalized by a bad cop.
    I do not apologize for being white.


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