Your Rights during a Traffic Stop

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We rely on the police to keep us safe and treat us all fairly, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin or religion. This information provides tips for interacting with police and understanding your rights and is excerpted in part by the ACLU – American Civil Liberties Union, the Raleigh Police Department and various other sources.

Driving is a Privilege, Not a Right

Driving is not a constitutional right. You get your drivers’ license based on the skills you have and the rules you agree to follow. After you get your drivers’ license you must continue to demonstrate your ability to drive safely on the road. If you fail to demonstrate this ability, you will be issued traffic tickets, or even have your license suspended or revoked. No one has more right to the road than anyone else. If you’re going to drive, you owe it to the other roadway users and yourself to operate the vehicle in a safe manner.

During my career in Law Enforcement, I have had many opportunities to encounter civilians during “routine” traffic stops – enough to know that there is NO SUCH THING AS A ROUTINE TRAFFIC STOP! Every person is different, every circumstance is different and every story is different. The cars and the locations are the only part of the whole scenario that hardly ever changes. Here are a few basic Rights that you, as a civilian, have when dealing with Law Enforcement during a traffic stop. These tips are not to be construed or used as Legal Advice. Do your own research and use accordingly.

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There’s no magic word, handshake or gesture to get you “off the hook”. Every LEO (Law Enforcement Officer) is different and each Officer has their own way of doing things (within the law). What you must remember is that LEO’s are human beings – they are people just like me and you and they are all subject to peer pressure, mood swings, bad days, good days, etc. Most of the time their interactions with you are strictly business and you should not take it personally. They have a job to do – just like you when you go to work. They have supervisors who tell them what to do and give them parameters to work within – who also give them grief during the day and push for performance.

Now with that being said – there is a lot that can go wrong during one of these encounters regardless of whether you are guilty or not.

Most traffic encounters can be stressful, but everyone involved (even the Officer) all want the same thing – they want to get through it as quickly and safely as possible and get on with the rest of their day.  Remember – Driving is a Privilege – Not a Right!

Your Rights Explained:  I know my rights

1. Be ready (Have your Documents in a location that is easily accessible)

We’ll start from the beginning. Just as soon as you see that you are being pulled over, immediately put your turn signal on, slow down and safely come to a stop on the shoulder of the road. If it is dark and you feel unsafe, you can drive slowly to a more lighted area if possible. Once you get your vehicle stopped, put your car in park, turn down your radio, if it’s dark outside, turn on your interior lights and roll your window down so that you can communicate with the Officer. Attitude is key at this point. If the Officer sees that you are going to be hard to deal with, you will most likely have a rough time getting through the traffic stop quickly and in your favor. Officers have a vast arsenal of charges that they can charge you with so tread lightly.

2. Probable cause (Know what you’re being stopped for).

The Officer should tell you why you’ve been pulled over right away. You have a right to know why you were stopped, and officers need a reason to stop you. This is known as probable cause, and it can be for anything, including a license plate light being out or speeding. If the officer fails to tell you why they pulled you over, don’t be afraid to ask; it’s your right to know.

3. You don’t have to say much (But keep your hands visible at all times)!

In a routine traffic stop, you will need to provide your Drivers’ License, Vehicle Registration, Proof of Insurance, and you may have to answer some basic identifying questions.  Many people in North Carolina lawfully carry different types of weapons. You should notify the officer as to the presence of these weapons. For example, if you are a law-abiding gun owner who is carrying during your stop, let the officer know about the presence of your gun. When the officer asks for these documents or items, let him know that you are going to reach for them and state where they are at. This will help put the officer at ease with what you plan to do with your hands. Other than that, you can be as quiet as you want to be. Remember: Staying silent means you can’t incriminate yourself. Essentially if you are pulled over for speeding, tail lights, running a stop sign or some other violation of the vehicle code you are not required to answer unrelated questions.  As a matter of common sense you should be polite to the officer who pulled you over but you are not required to answer questions unrelated to your car (i.e. ‘were you drinking tonight,’ ‘where have you been’ etc.).  You are required to give the officer your license, registration and insurance card. You are not required to give the officer consent to search your vehicle nor are you required to talk with him if you don’t want to.

4. Film away (Record-keeping isn’t a bad idea). 

Relations between the police and certain communities aren’t great right now. For safety and evidence purposes, some Law Enforcement Agencies have started to use body cameras, so there’s a record of virtually every interaction between police and the citizens. But if you want to take matters into your own hands, it’s perfectly legal to film or record a traffic stop, so you have a record of the interaction, especially if you think you might need to dispute something later.

5. An attitude isn’t illegal (There’s no law against this, but we wouldn’t recommend it). 

At the end of the day, police officers are doing a job and want their days to go as smoothly as possible. There’s no law governing etiquette for dealing with an officer, and you can’t be arrested for having a bad attitude. But being difficult won’t do you any favors either. In fact, it’s probably the easiest way to make a tense situation go bad. If you’re being mistreated, fighting fire with fire isn’t going to help you at a traffic stop. “Any level-headed person who gets pulled over does what a police officer tells you, and there won’t be any problems. Whether the cop is wrong, you can hash it out in courts after it’s over.” Comply with all reasonable requests. When stopped, please follow the officer’s instructions. This is not the appropriate time to debate the merits of a traffic stop. Let your attorney handle that in the courtroom.

6. Do not get out of your car (unless instructed to by the Officer).

More often than not, when a police officer asks you to step out of the car, it’s for their own safety. They either want to make sure you don’t have a concealed weapon on you or issue a field sobriety test. Do not exit your vehicle unless the officer tells you to do so. Once again, this is true for passengers as well. Simply remain inside your car until the officer has a chance to speak with you.

7. You can refuse a breathalyzer test (Even exercising this right might land you in jail). 

This one is a double-edged sword. If you’re asked to submit to a breathalyzer test, remember you’re being asked, not ordered. Still, many states have implied consent laws, which mean you automatically consent to the test as soon as you get your license. If you refuse, you can still be arrested and charged with a DUI based on evidence presented by arresting officers. Either way, being in this scenario is a no-win situation.

8. Know where you stand

Most officers want traffic stops to be as quick as possible. But if you’re in a situation where you’ve had your documents returned but you’re still being questioned by the officer, you’re well within your rights to say, “I need to be going. Am I free to go?” If the answer isn’t a clear “yes,” you can ask, “Am I being detained?” If you’re not allowed to leave, it’s time to stop talking and think about getting a lawyer.

9. Don’t allow a search for any reason (Innocent or not, don’t ever do this). 

Sometimes, an officer will nonchalantly ask, “Mind if I take a look in your car?” Innocent or not, do not ever consent to this; no good ever comes of it. The only way an officer can search your car is if you consent, if you have something illegal in plain view, if they’ve already arrested you, if they have probable cause that a crime has immediately been committed, or if there’s danger that evidence from a crime could be immediately destroyed. Other than that, they need a warrant. End of story.

10. Warrants and checkpoints are (mostly) non-negotiable

If you’re driving and come to a police checkpoint, you need to stop and interact with the officers. There really isn’t a lot of wiggle room there. And in the event police have a warrant to search your car, you must let them search. But there is a catch: If they’re looking for a specific object, they only can search areas where that object can fit. If police start searching outside the parameters of the warrant, they’re violating your rights.

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So there you have it – remember this is just a guide and is not meant as Legal Advice – If you feel that you have been discriminated against or treated unfairly, make sure that you report it to someone. Everyone has a boss or someone that they report to – even the Police!

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A Little Girls Story….

A Little Girls Story……..

WARNING – First off I want to warn you that this post is very raw and may touch a nerve. Reader discretion is advised….. I really feel that this story needs to be told – if not for the child, then for other children or parents that may need to hear this – My heart breaks as I begin to write this – WARNING….

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As some of you may know, I have an older Brother and this story relates to him and his granddaughter. His youngest son was married to this girl and they had a daughter which is now 12 years old. In the beginning, this little girl was full of energy, beauty and pure innocence but at some point during their marriage, the son and the wife realized that they were very toxic for each other and decided that it would be in their best interest if they parted ways, They finally split up a few years ago and both have remarried now. The mother and the child moved in with her new husband and have lived in Henderson, NC for the past four or five years now- they even had a new baby together. During the course of the last few months, we (the family) have learned that the 12-year-old girl has been sexually molested and raped by her stepfather repeatedly for the past two years.

My brother had noticed that his granddaughter was acting out, the mother, who is less that anything fit to be called a mother, had been back and forth with the father of the child trying to pawn her off and get her to move in with him. The father, with a new baby himself and two other children said he had no room for the oldest daughter. After some time, my Brother and his wife took the 12-year-old child in to live with them and that’s when “Pawpaw Bill” found out what was really going on. The child complained of pain, sickness, was acting out and just plain disrespectful at times. My brother told me that the child asked him one day about keeping her safe from the nightmares and bad things which triggered him into further questioning the child. That’s when the child came out and told him of the horrors that had been going on. The child reported that the stepfather would come into her room and make her touch him, kiss him, and he forced her to let him touch her. The child described in detail of the stepfathers’ anatomy and distinctive marks. We also learned that the mother of the child was in the home when some of these things were going on.

Can you imagine the awful feelings that this child had knowing that something this terrible was happening to her and that her own mother was in the next room and not being able to say anything.  The psychological torment, torture and terror that she had to experience without someone to talk or to tell would be unbearable. Upon reflection, I feel the rage building up again for the pain that she has gone through but at the same time, I feel the joy that she must have had when she was moved out of that situation and put in a safe place. About three weeks ago, my brother brought her to my house for a quick visit and I have to say that she looked amazing. It had been quite some time since I had seen her last and she came up to me and said – “do I remember you?” I reassured her yes sweetie and gave her a big hug and she immediately felt at ease. She then turned to her Pawpaw Bill and said, “can I go play now?” which of course just thrilled her and you could see the happiness was starting to come back while she was playing with my daughter and some other kids that were over for the day.

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Fast forward to this past week, my Brother called and told me that Joe had been arrested this past Saturday in Henderson and that his wife was yelling at the police and was trying to get them to let him go. Apparently she is on his side and believes that he is innocent. Even after Physical Examination by a Doctor and verified that she had been assaulted and raped over an extended period of time. Even after Police Investigations and interviews with the child, this “mother” remains by his side while the child is left thinking that this is somehow her fault and that her mother doesn’t believe her or even love her.

During the investigations, it seems that Joe, the stepfather, was “having his way” with the child and performing sodomy, fellatio and even full penetration and rape of the child over the course of two years. Multiple times this child had to endure pain, anguish and terror inflicted by another human being that was supposed to be in charge of, taking care of and providing for her. A person who she should be able to feel safe with and depend on in a positive way – one to always keep her safe – yet he is the one that she had to fear the most. On top of it all, she felt that she could not tell anyone, especially her own mother who lived in the same house.

There are so many circumstances to this sad story and so many questions that cannot be answered like, why didn’t she tell her father or her Pawpaw?, why didn’t she just tell a teacher? Why didn’t her dad pick up on the fact that something was wrong? Why did it take so long for someone to realize that this child was not the same as before. I can tell you a factor or two in it all and that is that the child was used as a pawn between several people to get their way, there wasn’t enough parental involvement in the day-to-day activities with this child. There wasn’t enough love in the homes between her dad and her mother and there was never any home training for the child. She simply didn’t know what to do. She had no guidance in her life and was allowed to do whatever she wanted until it finally broke her in such a way that will affect the rest of her life.

She will forever be different now and in many ways changed for the worse. As far as trusting, loving, or enjoying another person or even becoming a mother herself one day (if that is even possible after what she has endured), will not be an easy task for her and may lead her to a life of depression, eating disorders, self-harm or even suicide…..the list goes on. Without the proper nurturing, guidance, love and support, she will have a very rough and troublesome life and I fully blame the parents. I blame the parents for allowing the innocence of this sweet young child to be taken away. I blame the parents for not “raising” up this child in a positive environment and keeping her safe at all costs over their own wants or needs.

So now, this creature has been arrested and is being held with no bond in the Vance County Jail awaiting court appearances and undoubtedly a bond reduction hearing. If I know the Court System like I used to, this scum will be out in a matter of days and surely they (the mother included) will try to strong-arm and influence the child in some way. Now I have talked with my brother about Lawyers, Domestic Violence Protection Orders and even a Guardian Ad Litem but apparently the District Attorney’s Office and or the Vance County Clerk of Court cannot agree on what steps to take next so I fear that this child may be on her own. My brother has vowed to be her guardian and protector and to do his very best to save her from what is to come. I truly hope that she finds some form of peace within and that her Perpetrator is adequately punished.

My take away on this whole ordeal is that……. I want parents and guardians to know that this type of crime happens every day to men, women, and children.  You never know what someone is going through but we always need to be vigilant and look for the signs – to always be there to lend an ear or a heart to someone who may be in need of help. I want the children to know that it is not their fault. They did not do anything wrong and it is not ok for people to do these things to them.

This type of crime happens in all classes of families from the richest to the poorest, from the south to the north – in the Country and in the City. Evil is in our nature but God gave us the choice and the Will to do the right thing.

What if it were your 12-year-old Daughter??

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WAKE UP AMERICA

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WAKE UP AMERICA AND LOOK AT THE SH@T STORM THAT IS HEADED OUR WAY…………

This article is about the type of government the Islamic jihadist group that calls itself “the Islamic State”, for the Foreign and Domestic Terrorists that are wreaking Havoc in and on our lands and for the acts of Treason that have been committed by our people.

Please pardon my expletive nature in the title but I had to grad your attention.  Folks – this is serious. You really don’t understand the full gravity of the ever developing circumstances that have been happening around the world lately. Over the course of the last 6 years, there have been more and more attacks both foreign and domestic. Up until recently, these attacks have been sparse and “at arm’s length” but now more than ever we need to be vigilant as there has been a rise in Domestic Terrorism. My intention is NOT to alarm anyone but moreover to make you aware of what is really going on in the world and in our back yard.

Have you seen these people?

london attackers Dylan Roof

Or even these People:

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These people look just like or eerily similar to people that we see here every day (in America). They may live next door or run a Shop in your neighborhood. The fact remains, that we should have Immigration Laws and Guidelines to ensure our safety. We should have strict laws that deal with Domestic Terrorism and strict laws that deal with Treason (remember Treason)?  In law,  treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts of violence and non-violence against one’s nation or sovereign.

Oran’s Dictionary of the Law (1983) defines treason as a “citizen’s actions to help a foreign government overthrow, to make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation]”. In America, it is also considered treason to attempt or conspire to overthrow the government, even if no foreign country is aiding or involved by such an endeavor. I think I have recently seen this in the news and is going on now as a matter of fact.

As a young child, when I did something wrong or against my Parents rules, we received a Whooping, a Spanking, we got grounded, sat in a corner and we got our toys taken away.  Hmmmm, so what happened if we did it again, well we got punished even worse the next time until eventually we learned that that type of behavior was not acceptable.  We learned from our decision and actions. We learned that those actions had consequences.

Spanking                                gallows over there

I have brought up all of that to say this – we, as a Nation – have sat back and let ourselves become complacent, become so slack and in a sense transitioned into the “United States of the Offended” for so long that we are now scared or unable to speak up and do the right thing for fear of retaliation. This younger generation that has been brought up and raised to be more accepting and tolerant of certain situations need to realize the severity of what is really going on. The more we “give” the more they “take”. – Plain and simple. Most people will think that I am being too harsh or paranoid – but I have seen a lot in my short time, I know the patterns and I know what is coming.

Nothing before or since the terror attacks of 9/11 in terms of lives lost, scope, and impact have been so devastating. We know that the al Qaeda led and inspired operatives still seek to strike our homeland to include the use of weapons of mass destruction.  Globally fueled terrorism continues to occupy much of our attention to this day. As we were reminded by the shootings in Kansas, Arkansas, and the nation’s capital over just 11 days this spring, the threat of domestic terror—Americans attacking Americans based on U.S.-based extremist ideologies—is alive and well. Today’s domestic terror threats run deep, from hate-filled white supremacists… Black supremacists…to highly destructive eco-terrorists…to violence-prone anti-government extremists…to radical separatist groups.

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It’s an especially tall order to try to prevent these attacks given the civil liberties we all enjoy as American citizens, including the right to free speech. Hate and anger are not crimes; neither are hard-line and poisonous ideologies. It’s only when actions by groups or individuals cross the line into threats, the actual use of force or violence, or other law-breaking activities where it then becomes terrorism.

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As a point of reference – listed below are some (but not all) forms of Terrorists:

Domestic Terrorists

  • Homegrown Violent Extremists, •Racist Skinhead Extremists, •Sovereign Citizen Extremists, •Supremacist Extremists (black and white), •Militia Extremists, •Animal Rights Extremists, •Anti-Abortion Extremists, •Environmental Rights Extremists, •Anarchist Extremists, •Lone Offender
  • Facilitators and Unwitting Co-optees.

 

Domestic Terrorism (DHS/FBI)

Is the threat of or Act of violence.

  • Is dangerous to life, potentially destructive of critical infrastructure or key resources
  • can be committed by group or individual
  • can be operating entirely within US without direction or inspiration from foreign terrorist group

 

Gangs    (MS13, Bloods, Crips, etc)

Self Admission, Tattoos, Hand Signs/Symbols/Logos, Wearing colors, clothing, Paraphernalia, Possessing related documents, Possessing and or participation of commercial publications, Consistent contact with Gang members, Photos with Gang members, Corresponding with Gang members, Confirmation by outside agency gang unit/database, Identified as Gang member by gang member or by a reliable informant.

*Some lengthy information I know but well worth the read.  Consider #unarmedselfdefence, #Shoot/DontShoot, #CCW*

IF you think that this type of violence/Terrorism will not affect you – in your neighborhood – think again!  Check out http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/terrorism/wrjp255a.html or Just ask the people in the Wisconsin Sikh Temple massacre, Aug. 5, 2012, The murder of Dr. George Tiller, May 31, 2009, Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church shooting, July 27, 2008., The murder of Dr. John Britton, July 29, 1994, The Centennial Olympic Park bombing, July 27, 1996., The murder of Barnett Slepian by James Charles Kopp, Oct. 23, 1998, the Planned Parenthood bombing, Brookline, Massachusetts, 1994, the Suicide attack on IRS building in Austin, Texas, Feb. 18, 2010, The murder of Alan Berg, June 18, 1984 and the Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombing, April 19, 1995.

Carrying Concealed…….

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As many of you know, I was a Law Enforcement Officer and a Fire Fighter for many years. I started with the local Police Department under Chief James Champion. “Champ” as everyone called him was a small framed – white-haired, old-time Policeman – one who knew everybody and everybody knew him. After my first year, I was promoted to Sergeant and put in charge of the Department when Champ was Off-Duty or Out of Town. Now Champ was married and had a son named Greg who was full of energy and loved his daddy. Champ was also a Volunteer Fireman with the Norlina Fire Department as was I. We had 3 full-time officers and 5 reserve (part-time) officers who would work as needed.

After my 5th year with the Police Department, I was vetted by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office for a Sergeants position. After some deliberation, I accepted the position but was thrown for a loop by the Sheriff who informed me that I would have to spend the first year as a Deputy before he could place me in the Sergeants position. Nevertheless, I accepted (mainly due to the raise in pay) and reported as instructed. Soon afterwards, I did in fact earn my Sergeant stripes and then two years later became the Lieutenant. Our Chain of Command consisted of the Sheriff, the Lieutenant, Sergeants, and Detectives followed by the Deputies.

After 10 years with the Sheriff’s Office I decided it was time for a change and as of 2005, I have dedicated my entire life to my family. I enjoy watching my two sons and my daughter grow up and I enjoy living life with my family. I’m not on the outside looking in anymore, I am deeply involved with everything on a daily basis. I cook, I clean, I escort and transport, I wash clothes and I even vacuum – which my wife totally loves.

For the last 20+ years, I have always maintained my sidearm whether on the job or off. It’s just like grabbing your nail clippers, pocket knife, wallet and keys. It’s hardwired in and I have always had it with me. Now, after 12 years, I have come to the realization that I really needed to start legally carrying my weapon with me. My Wife and I have been talking about it for the last couple of months and have decided that it was time to get it done. As it turns out, “Champ” my old Police Chief, who has since retired and has passed away, his son Greg is going to be the Instructor for the Concealed Carry Weapons class coming up in a few weeks – my how time flies. It turns out that Greg has made a very successful career in Law Enforcement and has even started his own business called Person Safety NC where he teaches the Concealed Weapons courses along with First Aid/CPR and is a state certified instructor for Vance Granville Community College in the Basic Law Enforcement Program.

I am so proud to have watched him grow up and I am totally looking forward to this concealed weapons course……………..

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