When I was a little boy, I was taught, “If you’re in trouble, look for a policeman.” Now it seems more like, “If you see a policeman, look for trouble.”
The few law enforcement officers I’ve been stopped by have always been cordial and respectful. But as everyone’s getting more trigger-happy in this country, I wonder: What do I tell my son (who just got his driver’s license) he should do if pulled over?
Years ago, I would’ve said, “Have your license and registration ready for the officer.” But now, if someone is seen reaching for a wallet, he might be shot by a cop who thinks he’s going for a gun.
Now I would keep my hands visible on the wheel until spoken to. But what if the officer asks to see license and registration? Someone would still look like he’s going for a weapon, and he may still be shot. They may be shot even after they’re yanked out of the car, cuffed and thrown to the pavement.
I’ve tried to raise my kids not to prejudge any person as a threat just because of skin color. I don’t want to have to warn them to prejudge if they see a badge.