I fear the Washington Post is merely trolling a troubled country with this op/ed. The author is Sunil Dutta, an LAPD officer turned ‘Professor of Homeland Security’ for an online university. The title imparts a bit of Dutta’s sorely needed expertise: “I’M A COP. IF YOU DON’T WANT TO GET HURT DON’T CHALLENGE ME.” The sub-head provides further nuance: “It’s not the police, but the people they stop, who can prevent a detention from turning into a tragedy.”
Perhaps you thought, prior to this, that the officers invested with legal authority and lethal weaponry held the majority of responsibility in these interactions. You were wrong. The person with all the control and authority turns out to be you. After being stopped for jaywalking, you can easily avoid being shot in the arm, or through the skull, by the practical application of your prodigious civilian power. Dutta gives you pointers on how this is done:
…just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me.
Try not to open your mouth. If you move your feet you could end up in trouble, but definitely don’t move your lips. Don’t say ‘I want your name and badge number, pal.’ Or ‘Why are you pulling a gun on me?’ Or ‘What the hell did I ever do to you?’ Any time you have a conversation with an officer, just do your best to avoid using words.
Try to use non-verbal communication instead. Your puppy dog, incidentally, is a master of these techniques. Whenever you get stopped by law enforcement, greet the patrolman with audible whimpering. If that should fail, and it appears the officer wants to kill you, try piddling down your own leg. If, finally, the angry policeman begins to advance on you, weapon drawn, fall flat on your back and stare idly at the sky. As if you only needed a belly scratching. This technique typically gets the hair on the police officer’s neck to lay down, usually followed by the re-holstering of his cocked and loaded weapon. Now isn’t that better? Of course it is. No one really wants to make a peace officer fill out a bunch of paperwork or stay hidden in his house for months on end. In short, when negotiating any misdemeanor confrontation with law enforcement remember your options: Getting killed or getting a new master. The choice is up to you.
For more on living in urban police zones see this episode of My Life As A Dog.