Bad Day for Cops … and for Us

The headline said it all:

Cops Shot in 4 Cities in 24 Hours, 2 Shootings Called “Targeted”

Last Sunday morning, a San Antonio detective was writing out a traffic ticket for a motorist he had stopped, ironically just outside police headquarters. After another vehicle pulled up behind the officer, that driver walked up to the squad car, fired once through the side window, then fired again, hitting the officer twice in the head, killing him almost instantly.

In St. Louis, around 7:30 p.m. Sunday night, a gunman came up next to a marked police Chevy Tahoe and opened fire. A 46-year-old sergeant, and 20-year veteran, was shot twice in the head but is expected to survive. CNN reported that SWAT units and helicopters tracked down the gunman, who was fatally shot after he opened fire at officers.

Here in Florida, a Sanibel police officer was shot in his shoulder during a traffic stop at about 8 p.m. Sunday. Officer Jarred Ciccone was treated and released from Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers. The suspect in that shooting has since been apprehended.

Finally, Kansas City police issued a statement Monday morning saying that “late Sunday night, Gladstone PD stopped a vehicle on a traffic violation. Someone ran from the vehicle, officers tried to take the suspect into custody and a struggle ensued during which the suspect produced a handgun. Shots were fired and the suspect was fatally wounded.”

Since these incidents, I’ve heard from a number of friends in law enforcement. They’re understandably anxious. One of them, an inner-city sergeant, is very pro-carry, and spends a lot of time instructing the officers under his command on dealing with otherwise innocent civilians who are legally armed. He’s concerned not only about the threat to his officers, but the effect their heightened nervousness could have on interactions with the public.

The fatal shooting of Philando Castile in July by a Minneapolis officer is a perfect example of how anxiety can make things can go terribly wrong. Without going into all of the complicated details of this very messy case, the bottom line is that someone who was apparently legally carrying is dead and a cop is now charged with manslaughter.

It just makes sense for those of us who carry firearms to be concerned, too. In the best of times, an interaction between police and an armed citizen is always uncomfortable, if not tense. In times like these, the potential for disaster rises. Keep that in mind the next time you get pulled over.

You know (or should know) the drill: If stopped in your vehicle, pull over, window down, hands on the wheel. DO NOT REACH FOR ANYTHING — you can retrieve your license and insurance info when the officer asks for it. First word out of your mouth: “Officer…” followed by something like “…how can I help you?”

Some states require you to notify officers immediately that you are armed, others only if you are asked. I always let them know — but that’s your call. Just remember to confirm with the officer before making ANY movements. Above all, remain calm, polite and respectful.

And please, spare me the “obnoxious cop” stories — I’ve heard ’em all and, after decades of traveling 40,000 miles a year, I have a couple of my own. But most cops just want to get home. We do, too. This is simply about being smart. And staying alive.