Saturday, April 17, 2021

How To Handle A Recalcitrant Police Officer.

September 4, 2017 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( If you have not run into a police officer who abuses his authority, forgets that he is a public servant or is so arrogant, nasty and maybe even racist that he should not be carrying a badge – don’t worry because sooner or later you will. You hear about police brutality and the deaths of Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Philando Castile and so many others. There are many dedicated, law abiding police officers but while police brutality only appears to have quieted down, the problem has not gone away – not at all. Simply visit or and see for yourself what is being kept quiet and out of the news media. The question is what do we legally do about bad police officers?

I am not here to give you legal advice because I am not an attorney. But as a former detective and current senior legal analyst, I can give you lawful advice, suggestions and strategies based on my right of freedom of speech. The more lawful, peaceful options you have, the more you will realize how empowered you are. These options are empowering strategies that get results, options for holding police officers accountable that you had no idea about. Police officers are snot sworn in to do whatever they want, speak to you however they want to or treat you any way they want.

It is very important to remember that whatever tactics and strategies you use to deal with a bad officer, they must be lawful, peaceful and not place you or your loved ones at risk. Police departments even have covert strategies for retaliating against citizens so you must be very careful. To protect your freedom, your job and your family, you are going to want to file some complaints anonymously whenever possible. Otherwise a police department could “make a mistake” and issue a warrant with your name on it, pull up every parking ticket or citation you have ever had, come to your job and ask questions (enough to get you fired) or a host of other things they do illegally. So unless you have a ton of support (judges, attorneys, political officials etc.), you need to always be careful and sometimes be anonymous.

If you think police brutality won’t happen to you, click the link below. So did she.

The pen is mightier than the sword or the badge or the gun or the blue lights. But that is only true if you know how to use that pen. Otherwise it’s just a pen. Let me give you an example of how empowered you are when you have the knowledge. This incident happened recently. A man we will call John walks into a grocery store in his own neighborhood. John is a frequent patron of the store. He notices an officer working off duty as security for the store. John notices the officer neither has on a badge nor any insignia of a police department, no patches, nothing that says “police”. He greets the officer respectfully and inquires what police department the officer works for. The officer respond with a bad attitude and says “I am busy and I don’t have to tell you anything”. But John knows that is not true. John knows police officers are accountable to the community and the officer should identify the department he works for. John politely and peacefully walks away but it is not over. This encounter may not seem like a big deal to you but police accountability to the communities they serve is always a big deal.

So what does John do with the knowledge he has? John speaks to the store manager on duty. He files a verbal complaint, notifying the manager what happened. He states that police officers are supposed to identify their department and wear the patch of that department as well as a badge. He tells the manager the officer refused to identify his department when asked. John informs the manager if the officer is not a police officer in that jurisdiction, the officer has no authority beyond regular security. He further notifies the manager that officers are to have off duty jobs approved and not work outside their jurisdiction. John takes the manager’s name, covertly takes a picture of the officer and leaves the store. John has knowledge. John overstands the power of the pen. John knows how to handle the matter peacefully.

John goes to his car and calls 911. He identifies himself and makes a complaint that an officer with no badge and no insignia is at the store in his community but refuses to disclose what police department he works for. John tells the 911 dispatch operator this is a non-emergency, low priority call but still important enough to send an officer. You see, anyone can walk around with a gun and handcuffs. But if a police officer wants to be respected as an officer, he should properly identify himself as an officer. The police in that jurisdiction send an officer to confront the officer in the store. A lot has now been accomplished. The officer in the store will not refuse to identify his department when the local police arrive. He will also be corrected by the store management.

Accountability is for police officers too and with authority comes responsibility. The officer has just gotten a reminder of accountability, a reminder that he is not above the law, a reminder of the power of a well-informed citizen and the power of the pen. John could take it further by sending a letter to the grocery store corporate office. Or he could find out from the store what police department the difficult officer worked for and file a complaint with that department. Remember John covertly took a photograph. John could even file a complaint and send the photo to the police council of his state which controls the certification of every single law enforcement officer in the state. There is no need to go any further, but my point is to show you just how empowered a knowledgeable private citizen can be. There is no need to break the law, throw rocks, attack officers or get loud and act crazy. And beware that some officers will try to provoke you, just as Sandra Bland was provoked but fell into the trap and reacted.

When you have a problem with a police officer, do NOT try to resolve it during the encounter. Too many things can go wrong including flaring egos and you are at a major disadvantage. For the time being you have to comply, even if your rights are being violated, even if the officer is disrespecting you. Unfortunately neither Eric Garner (I can’t breathe) not Sandra Bland understood this and now they are gone. I am not shaming the victims, I am simply saying they took the approaches they knew – unfortunately leaving the door open for the wolf and themselves at a disadvantage. If you have an encounter with a police officer, you want to have the shortest and most peaceful encounter possible. That must be your goal.

When you have a bad encounter with a police officer, you need to know where to file a complaint. You can file with his/her department but in that case you will have to give your personal information which could place you at risk for retaliation. Trust me, I have been there. You can file with the police council that regulates and certifies every officer in your state. You can file with your county commissioner’s office or city council representative. You can file with the courts. You can take it to social media, especially if you have photos or video.

You can take it to the news media – anonymously or not. You can file a complaint with police watchdog organizations and you will find a ton of them on Google. You can even file a lawsuit against either the officer, his department or both. Just be advised that attorneys want to go after agencies with “deep pockets” or big money. Therefore do not be surprised if an attorney tries his best to talk you out of suing the officer individually. But you can and there are huge hidden advantages in doing so. That, however, is another article I wrote (Suing A Police Officer) that you can request by email at

When you are mistreated by a police officer, your power is in letting the right people know about it. You are never helpless and your quest for justice is never hopeless, as long as you approach the matter with strategy, knowledge, wisdom and the power of that knowledge. I tried to tell Black Lives Matters this but too many of them could not hear me. Some people simply have an “on” switch and an “off” switch, ignoring all the possibilities in the middle and failing to think outside of the box. If only those of you who are soldiers would listen to those of us who are strategists, the African American community would be so much more unified, powerful and decades ahead. Be safe. Be smart. Be proactive.

Staff Writer; Trevo Craw


One Response to “How To Handle A Recalcitrant Police Officer.”
  1. Tom says:

    Dear author,
    You clearly don’t recognize that Male blacks are the ones committing a majority of the crimes here in the US. Maybe you should be looking at the behavior and culture of your own people and not pointing out the few bad apples. Get a clue

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