This post is going to cover some things you can do to brighten your situation, improve your presentation and increase your chances of you getting out of an infringement notice courtesy of your booking officer.
To be clear, these points are intended to improve your odds of getting off lightly. You’re going to need to employ your own tact, professionalism and sense of fairness.
Setting the Scene
Before we get started, you need to know:
- The police / highway patrol officers have a job to do.
- There are aspects of their job that they enjoy and some they do not.
- Do you hate office politics? Well consider working for actual politicians. It doesn’t get much worse.
- Their job requires them to enforce laws that they themselves don’t always agree with – but it’s their job regardless.
- If you did not do your job, you’d be reprimanded or fired right?
- Do you love everything about your job?
- Was there anything you used to enjoy but now hate in your role?
- These guys and girls in uniforms are human too. They’re just like you and I.
- In our society, the movies teach us that the bad guys go to jail, we enjoy watching the rich fail and the famous “get what they deserve.”
- You are being examined through these same eyes – your goal is to show the Officer that you are not the bad guy, you are not another big-shot that needs to learn their place and that you have earned their mercy and not their punishment.
- Consider now that you are a human being that has this terrible job:
- You are responsible for responding to heartbreaking tragedies.
- First to motor vehicle accidents, seeing mangled bodies and the wrenching smell of perforated intestines.
- You attend court hearing to give evidence only to be branded a liar by the defence attorney to better his client’s case.
- You are given the job of telling mothers and fathers that their children are dead.
- You’re the closest car to a domestic call out. You’ve been to this address many times before and were powerless to intervene. As you investigate, you realise the “wife-beating husband” was knifed by his wife after he threatened to hurt their daughter… you have to now arrest her.
- Standing in the shower each morning, thinking over rumours of a colleague shooting herself with her own service weapon to end it all.
- The wailing and screams ring in your ears at night when you’re trying to sleep.
- Friends treat you differently and change topics when you join the group.
- Some how being a part of society, yet above it leaves you feeling like an outsider.
- People go out of their way to suck up to you.
- All you want is some true and genuine human communication, someone who doesn’t want something, someone who can see you’re having a bad day.
Next time you get pulled over, consider that the Officer you were going to yell at, might be going through the above.
- Never ever lose your composure, get upset, curse or swear. Do not antagonise, belittle, mock or discriminate. If you do any of these things – you are not making it easy for the Officer to do you a favour. Show them how you are an upstanding citizen of society. Speak politely, show the utmost respect and courtsey.
- Greet them warmly and pleasantly when they approach your vehicle. “Good morning!” and include a huge smile. Think of something really funny if it helps.
- Avoid keeping them waiting, have your window down, ignition off, any papers ready and drivers license handy. Do not get out of the vehicle unless instructed – it comes off as threatening.
- If you’ve requested to do something (such as step out of the car) respond positively acknowledging the request “Yes of course, right away, Sir”.
- Do not insult their intelligence by lying or attempting to mislead them. If they ask you “do you know why I pulled you over?” or “is there a reason you did an illegal u-turn back there?” – accept onto yourself all of the blame and responsibility. Be an adult, admit willingly and openly that you did the wrong thing. “No… there is no good reason Officer, it was extremely stupid and careless of me. Yes, you are right, I should have paid more attention.”
- If you can see their rank on their badge, include it once or twice while speaking to them. “Now you put it like that Sergeant, I can see where you are coming from. You are right.” for example.
- Allow them to speak until they have nothing left to say. Make eye contact. Nod to show you understand. Do not interrupt them while speaking. Do not argue. Do not ever argue. You must listen to them completely. Conceed to their point.
- Assuming they are not-dodgy cops (note 97% of them are good people), it is extremely likely they have clear evidence of you doing what they allege you did. Police vehicles are fitted with cameras facing numerous directions, automatic plate scanners, automatic speed detection and other cool tech. Therefore before you go telling them they have the wrong person or their equipment is faulty, before you go questioning their integrity or professionalism, consider carefully if anything you spurt out is going to help motivate them to let you go.
- If you’re dealing with an Police officer with ego – don’t let him or her take the pleasure of lecturing you. “You caught me fair and square. I suppose you’re going to throw the book at me? I may even lose my license. I feel like such a fool. But here we are, now I’m going to get what I deserve for being so impatient.” If you’re lucky, you are taking the wind out of their sails. The only remaining way for them to expand their ego is to show you mercy and let you go.
Some final important points
- An infringement notice can be withdrawn or re-issued at any time up until you and they go separate ways. Regardless of the outcome, maintain your composure, be consistent. If you break into disrespecting scolding and yelling at them – it only reinforces “they were right” to give you the fine.
- Before you let them leave – stop them. “Oh Officer, one more thing…” Once again, regardless of the outcome, you owe them your honest appreciation for being an awesome fellow human-being and also for the extremely difficult job they choose to put themselves through every day. Tell them that!
- “Oh Officer, one more thing… Before you leave I just wanted to express my honest appreciation for all the work you have done and will do in the future. I understand that it isn’t always easy and you are often in difficult positions where you have to make tough decisions. But you keep coming into work again the next day. I am not trying to change your mind… I only wanted to remind you that myself and others thank you from the bottom of our hearts and have our eternal gratitude. Thank you once again.”