My experience with the CHP

I’m posting this in the pit because I’m probably going to start swearing soon, but right now I’m still shaking so much it’s hard to type, so bear with me. I was driving into work today, minding my own business, when a cop cut me off. No, not just cut me off. He came out of the carpool lane illegally (not to mention he was in the carpool lane illegally) and without signaling came within about an inch of hitting my car. In fact, he would have hit my car if I hadn’t seen him coming and swerved/skidded out of his way. While getting my car back under control, I (stupidly, in hindsight) stuck my hand out the window and flashed him the bird. Mr. Highway Patrol did not like this. Much flashing of lights and hand signaling later, we are both on the side of the highway. He comes storming up to the car and starts screaming, “Who the hell do you think you are! You were all over the road, and then you give me the finger??!! I ought to run you in!” and so on. I asked him if he has any “fucking idea” what he just did (he doesn’t) and the screaming continues. I began to get really tired of him yelling at me, so I asked him for his badge number. He ignored that and kept yelling. I asked him again. He said ok. I said, “Wait, let me get a pen.” This is where it gets interesting. I opened the compartment next to me to get out a pad. To do this I turned my upper body, opened the compartment with my right hand, and reached in with my left. Ok, I know, stupid thing to do. This is what I heard as I did this (I had my back to him): “Freeze! Motherfucker! Freeze! If you move one goddamn inch I’ll blow your fucking head off” I froze, and slowly turned my head to see a gun about 10 inches away from my face. I could actually see down the barrel a little. To those of you who have not experienced this, I would not recommend it. I’m not scared by much, but having a man about the same age as me point a gun at my head while screaming about how he’s going to use it is a boxer-changing experience. I quietly started talking about how I was just going for a pad of paper. By this time, backup had arrived, so I got out of my car (“Hands first!!” “No sudden moves!!”), got patted down and then watched by one cop while another searched my car. They found nothing. Duh. At this point, everyone seemed to realize that the situation had gone a lot farther than we had all wanted it to. I got a lecture about road rage (HAH!) and making sudden movements while being pulled over, and they let me go. Just like that. So now I’m at work, much calmer now, and I really should do something productive.

In closing, I know I handled the situation badly. I did many things I should not have done. Mr. CHP did as well. What a way to start the day.

We’d like for them to be supermen but when it comes right down to it they’re just like us only, hopefully, better trained. They’ve got a tough job but yeah, I agree, I’ve seen them do some stupid shit before.

Next time try using your horn instead.

Paula Poundstone used to have a routine where she asked what would happen if you got pulled over and, when the cop came up to the car window to ask for your license and registration, you reached out and poked him in the nose with your finger.

My first thoughts, having grown up in the Bay Area: you could get dragged out of the car, thrown to the ground, beaten with a stick, sat on by a 220 pound cop, handcuffed and arrested.

That’s on a good day.

You just had a great day.

My interactions with the California Highway Patrol have always shown them to be among the most courteous and professional cops I have ever dealt with.

Please remember that members of their force are routinely killed in the line of duty solely because a wanted criminal avoids apprehension by blowing an officer away over a traffic stop.

I’m obliged to give you a BGO (Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious):

DO NOT flip off a highway patrolman or police officer at any time. This is an immediate indicator that you may be of less than savory character and worthy of their tender ministrations. It is also illegal to do so in many places and always represents some form of probable cause for them to pull you over.

DO NOT raise your voice or become hostile with an officer of the law. This nearly requires them to give you a tune up for that reason alone. Hardened criminals are the most likely candidates to show immediate and automatic disrespect for the law. Mimicking this behavior in any way is a sure fire method of being treated like the aforementioned criminal.

DO NOT make rapid movements in their proximity, especially accessing storage areas (glove boxes, purses, pockets, carryalls, totes, briefcases). Cops that do not instantly interdict such action often wind up on a the slab in the morgue. While you know that you aren’t reaching for a gun, the officer has no such foreknowledge and must assume that you are going after a weapon (see previous sentence). Always announce your intention to act and wait for the officer to recognize that they have heard and agree to your next move. Showing this sort of cooperation instantly de-escalates an encounter as any officer is then aware of how you understand their own situation. Looking down a gun barrel should serve as sufficient reminder to never, ever again act precipitously in the presence of a law enforcement officer.
Again, these officers risk their lives on a daily basis just by putting on their badge. Your behavior could easily been that of a wanted felon. The officer was merely trying to protect other people like yourself from such hardened elements in our society. It does not justify them being bad drivers or acting rude. One of my pet peeves is how frequently officers do not use their turn signals while on patrol. However, you do not know if the officer was distracted by trying to run a stolen car hot-sheet or Amber alert on a vehicle in front of you when that abrupt maneuver was made. I’ll wager that this is one of the only times in your entire life that an officer has cut you off in traffic. Your response was inappropriate.

Flipping off that cop was an iron clad guarantee of getting your clock cleaned.

Oh. My bad. My thoughts were about the reaction of Oakland City cops rather than CHP’s.

I’d like a cite for that “flipping off a cop is illegal in many places”. Granted, doing so could easily lead to being cited for some other infraction but I doubt it is illegal in itself.

You flipped off a cop then made a move for the glove box (or something similar) and didn’t get shot? You’re lucky as hell, and would be in any jurisdiction.

I have a feeling that there’s a LOT more to this story than the OP is saying…

The responsible thing to do would be to take down the car’s license and call the police.

Zenster. As I said in my post, I know I did many things that were wrong. I do have great respect for most CHP officers. Just needed to blow off a little steam this morning in my rant. However, I do not think I made it clear what happened when I was cut off. (please note: this is not an attempted edit. I simply left out a few things this morning. I was a bit shaken up. Not with anger, just from having a gun pointed at me.) I was driving about 70. CHP was travelling at about 75. I was passing a car. CHP abruptly turned toward the front of my car. I had nowhere to go, as I was passing a car to my right. If I had not skidded and recovered from that skid, there would have been a two to three car (at least) accident. If anyone does that, they deserve a quick “fuck you,” IMHO. I do not agree that police officers should be given special treatment in that situation. If it was an emergency situation that required a quick maneuver on his part, he should have put his lights on. If not, he should not have exited the carpool lane until a legal exit came along. In fact, as he was alone in the car, he should not have been in the carpool lane at all. That is why I was upset. I completely agree with many other points in your post, minus the following exceptions:

I have to disagree. If I am being yelled at, I tend to yell back. I know it’s not the most productive thing to do, but it happens. Especially as I was full of adrenaline and a little worked up. And saying that this nearly requires them to give me a tune up is ridiculous. Are you implying that he would have been justified using force?

I completely agree. As I said, I made quite a few mistakes in this encounter with the law. However. I did say to him, “Wait, let me get a pen.” before moving. I made eye contact with him while I said this. I thought that was enough. Evidently not. I have learned my lesson.

I don’t buy it.
I’m not looking for a fight, but I am curious to see if my responses have changed your opinion of the incident. Thanks

At the risk of being whoohsed: Guin, that car was the police.

The guy has serious problems and probably should not be in the CHP. I know the job is dangerous and you meet wierdo’s every day, but he made the initial boo boo, therefore he should blow it out is ass and go on about life. Proof is OP wasn’t arrested, as they CHP guy wouldn’t have had a leg to stand on.
3 assholes (me not among them :smiley: ) graduated with me.

Ranking from Worst to Least Worst:

[li]Asshole #1 became a farmer.[/li][li]Asshole #2 became a welder.[/li][li]Asshole #3 became a CHP. [/li]

I am not implying that the officer had any right to use force upon you. Your actions constituted hostile and aggressive behavior and the cop responded rather appropriately.

DO NOT raise you voice to an officer. It merely gives them reason to suspect that you may next engage in physical violence and permits them to act accordingly.

By “tune up” I meant a full back ground check and frisking with possible cuffing while it happened. Not the classic New York “tune up” which includes the oil change avec broom handle dipstick and all points lube (if you’re lucky).

Making eye contact while mentioning how you intend to move is insufficient. Always get confirmation from the officer that they have heard you and agree with your intentions.

The officer may have been driving his car in an irresponsible manner. Take down his license and report him. By flipping him off, you made some rudimentary effort to admonish or discipline this cop. Few of them take to it in the least and many take to it not at all.

Refer to Ethilrist’s post for more data.

I still maintain that flipping off the officer was tantamount to begging for a pull-over. I know it and you do too.

So, let’s see, rules by Lightningtool:

If you get cut off, give a quick fuck you.

If you get yelled at, yell back.

Your responses didn’t change my initial impression - you seem to be a person that immediately escalates a situation. What I learned is, that type of person can end up with a cop pointing a gun at their head.

All right, this seems as good a place as any to share my experience with the CHiPs, which was not nearly as horrific as the OP’s, by the way.

About 8 weeks ago, I was visiting my girlfriend in California. On the day I was to fly back, we were driving from San Diego to Los Angeles, where she lives. I was driving, and I was speeding - 80 mph in a 55 zone, to be exact.

Where he came from I’ll never know: I tend to check my mirrors religiously, especially when speeding a bit. But he might as well just have been dropped from the sky, for there he was: a CHiPs cruiser right at my tail.

I slow down a tad, of course, to about 60 on the speedo. He briefly turns on his lights. I ask my GF what the right course of action is, and she advises me to take the next exit, which I do. At the traffic lights, the cop tells me to pull over next to the Carl’s Jr. across the street, per bullhorn.

I pull over, and open the window. Hands on the wheel, of course: I’ve seen enough movies! :slight_smile:
He tells me the reason for stopping me is speeding. I tell him that I realise I was speeding, and apologise. Upon request, I tell him there was no real reason for speeding, other than making sure to make it back to LA in time for my flight later that day (we were way ahead of schedule, though).

The cop, who I must say was courteous and professional all the way, then asks for my driver’s license.

Here’s the thing: I’m a Dutchman, and have a Dutch (EU standard) driver’s license. I’ve brought a specially issued International Driver’s License with me to the US before (especially if I was planning on renting a car or bike, since many rental places require it), but not this time. I hand the cop my license, and he looks at it puzzled.

“Where are you from, sir?”, he asks.

I tell him I’m from the Netherlands, and that this is a Dutch driver’s license.

“This is not a valid license in California”, he says, “It doesn’t say where you are from.”

“Yes it does”, I respond, “it says ‘Koninkrijk der Nederlanden’ on the front - this means ‘Kingdom of the Netherlands’.”

He maintained that my license was not valid, and ordered me to not drive in CA anymore without an international driver’s license (which in all honesty is a EUR 25 photocopied rag which happens to be in English among others, and expires in a year, it’s useless).

Of course, me and my GF changed positions, and she drove the rest of the way home.

I’m not angry with the cop at all: after all, he could have given me a stiff fine for speeding, and rightly so. He didn’t, he was courteous all the way: top notch.

But I still think his comments about my Dutch license were bullshit. Was he right? Anyone in the know?

My only comment is that if you’re in a job where people might want to harm you (i.e. Police Officer) you shouldn’t start contact with others via screaming. Situations rapidly escalate under those circumstances, and people do dumb things, like lightingtool did.

The ‘offence’ of giving the finger need not be met with a high energy, tense confrontation. If the officer had kept his cool right from the start, there would have been no need for any of the unpleasantness.

Ok. I now understand that the terms “clock cleaned” and “tune up” do not mean what I thought. When my father used to tell me he was going to clean my clock, he did not mean he was going to yell at me.

I just don’t see the logic here. The officer was shouting at me before he even got to my window. His main beef seemed to be with my finger usage, and my lack of respect for his position. I raised my voice in response. By responding to him in that way, I’m suddenly at fault? As you seem to have a fairly good idea as to what you’re talking about, please explain that to me. How far would he be able to go while he was “acting accordingly?” A cite would also be great.

Once again we are getting into a interesting area for me. An officer who is actively enforcing the law has my upmost respect. An officer who drives in an unsafe manner deserves to be treated like any other motorist on the road. Once again, I will state that I don’t think CHP officers deserve special treatment on the roads unless they have their sirens/lights on.

I don’t presume to speak for you and I would appreciate it if you returned the favor. No, I was not surprised to get pulled over, but I thought the tongue-lashing that followed was out of line. Thanks.

On preview: Glory. I think that is a bit of an oversimplification. Try to put yourself in my shoes. I was angry, full of adrenaline, and getting yelled at for, in my opinion at the time, preventing an accident. Sometimes people get worked up.

The proper thing to do would have been to record the place (approximate location on the highway) the time, date, and the squad car’s license number and the unit ID usually painted on the back somewhere.

Describe fully what happened, that X car was in the carpool lane, swerved in at X time nearly causing an accident, etc.

Call the PD and make a report with all the above info, and then follow that up with a written copy, possibly sent in certified delivery.

Chances are you’ll never hear any results, but that officer typically will get that added to his record. After the cop gets a few piled up like that, there’s usually an internal review. Plus things like that weigh against promotions and raises.

As noted above, that cop could very well have put a bullet in the back of your head, claiming- quite rightly- that he was afraid you were reaching for a weapon. He’d have been given a week’s paid leave, there would have been an investigation, but he’d have been back at work before your funeral was over.

Count yourself lucky- the cop may have been an asshole, but he wasn’t so much an asshole he shot first and asked questions later.

Doc Nickel, I do count myself as lucky. I called in the incident with the officer’s badge number and explained what happened. They said they would look into it. Thanks for the advice. As I have stated, I learned my lesson today.

Errr… I guess it would be more accurate to say we changed seats, lest any of you get the wrong idea. :slight_smile:

I know that my Swedish drivers license isn’t valid for ID anywhere else than in Sweden. During a visit to Germany (and a short roadtrip to Groningen) I had to use my passport for identification when renting a car. This was also the only use I had for my passport during the entire trip. :slight_smile: So, it isn’t farfetched to think that the same goes for Dutch ones.