How Should Officers Deal with Verbally Aggressive Anti-Police Groups (2023)

How Should Officers Deal with Verbally Aggressive Anti-Police Groups (1)

How Should Officers Deal with Verbally Aggressive Anti-Police Groups (2)

BySteve Pomper

It’s very American to distrust government. But when does not trusting government go too far? Though, I understand the prudence of not trusting government, I worked for the government. I became a police officer because I saw it as a legitimate government function. To serve and protect the people. To uphold the Constitution and to help ensure their rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Obviously, some folks don’t see the police as the guardians of liberty that they are. I wrote about an incident in my first book, where a Libertarian Party acquaintance, so distrustful of any government, had talked herself into being pathologically afraid of the police. I told her she might lessen her fear of law enforcement if she went on a ride-along with me. She agreed, but….

She set some conditions. We had to meet in a public place, not at a police station, and a friend of hers had to “witness” her getting into my car. I cancelled the ride-along right there and then. That is not sane behavior. She had descended from what may have been a healthy wariness of government to a debilitating paranoia. But other people go even further. They morph their distrust of government into a poisonous hatred of anything government—especially the police.

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There are some issues to emphasize about contacts with these hateful loons who video record cops trying to do their jobs. First, whether a person is an “official” jerk, belongs to one of the anti-cop groups mentioned below, or someone just freelancing as a jerk, there is a fine line between video recording cops while they are working and obstructing a police officer.

If you walk up to cops who are not on a call and begin to hurl vile epithets at them, that’s one thing. But if you do this while the cops are engaged in performing their duties, especially dealing with suspicious people, doesn’t that go beyond what the First Amendment protects?

Location, positioning, time of day, and environmental conditions define that line. For example, I once watched a John Stossel TV segment about this issue. In one example a man was video recording a police officer during a traffic stop. He was filming in a manner and from a location where he was not a threat to the cop. Still, the officer got upset and arrested the man.

I also covered Stossel’s segment in my book, De-Policing America. I wrote, “In one instance, even though the woman was in her own yard, she was standing behind officers with her cellphone, video recording the incident. The nearest officer explained he wasn’t comfortable having someone standing so closely behind him and told her to go inside her house. She refused. If someone wants to harm an officer where better than while standing close behind the officer?” The officers were dealing with a hostile suspect.

I wrote a recent article about a foul-mouthed lout who recorded himself in a video fabricating outrage at the way two cops had parked their patrol car. Utterly ridiculous, but if you saw and heard him spew his vulgar tirade at the officers, you’d see he seemed to believe he was convincing people he’d just witnessed the greatest atrocity since the 9/11 attacks.

That truly unpleasant human being is typical of members of groups such as First Amendment Audits,, and These folks want people to believe they are objective watchdogs over police misbehavior. But that’s not true. Just go online and watch these group members’ behavior on Youtube and other platforms. You can see these folks not only video record officers but also are verbally abusive and hostile from the very beginning of their confrontations with cops.

(Video) Police officer comforts little girl after she asks: 'Are you going to shoot us?' l GMA Digital

In one instance, a clown identified as a First Amendment Audits member walks toward what appears to be cops investigating a suspicious circumstances type call. The guy says to the subjects the officers were dealing with, “I’m trying to protect your rights. I’m a cop watcher.” He then tells the person, “These cops like to kill people… kill people.”

His negative assumptions are neither objective nor rational. They’re pure hate. He doesn’t know what the officers are doing. The people could be wanted felons for all he knows. He doesn’t know these officers, and he hasn’t seen them do anything but talk, never mind do anything wrong. As one officer walks over to ask what the man wants, he finishes his objective civil discourse with, “Get the f—k away from me you f—king pig.” How charming is that?

Of course, he spouted concern for his First Amendment rights, which may be justified, to a degree. But there are other valid considerations. For one thing, when you have two officers dealing with two suspects, another idiot standing and making rude comments only a few yards away, just gives officers an unneeded distraction. Distractions get cops hurt and killed. The moron may know he doesn’t intend to harm the officers. But the officers would be foolish to bet their lives that he won’t.

Ironically, members of these cop-hating groups accusing officers of being bullies are themselves bullies. Though they say they target “bad cops,” they appear to initiate every contact with law enforcement as if they are dealing with “bad cops.” This says a lot about the venom and lack of objectivity in their anti-cop ideology.

For example, groups like this were among those who used to demand less-than-lethal use-of-force alternatives such as Tasers. Now, Copwatch advertises on its website the “Coalition for a Taser Free Berkeley.” They also routinely refer to criminal suspects as “victims,” and to those who’ve died during police uses-of-force as having been “murdered.”

While I cannot cover the entire gamut of these groups’ attempts to elude the law, I had some personal experience with so-called Sovereign Citizens attempting to avoid registering their vehicles with the state. The FBI and other agencies around the world have even classified some of these loosely affiliated Sovereign Citizen groups as domestic terrorists.

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The FBI reports members of this movement have a history of using self-made license plates. Aside from other laws they don’t adhere to, they don’t feel society has a right to enforce traffic codes and laws against them. Here is an example.

My partner and I dealt with some of these dolts back in the late 90s. They were fabricating their own license plates and attaching them to their cars. Rather than crude and homemade, as many looked, our loons were a bit more clever. They had license plates professionally printed that were supposedly issued by the British Virgin Islands.

We actually took the time to contact the British Consulate in Seattle. We described the plates, and they assured us they were fraudulent. So, we cited the driver, confiscated the plates as evidence, and impounded the car. Their behavior with us, similar to what you see in the linked videos, did not merit our being lenient.

San Antonio (TX) Police Chief William McManus gave News4 San Antonio a sound description of the “line” I spoke of earlier. The one between exercising one’s free speech and disturbing the peace or obstructing a police officer.

Chief McManus’ officers had been dealing with a chronic cop-agitator who was a member of the “First Amendment Auditors.” The city alleged “the group use confrontational recordings of police officers to disrupt routine duties.” The notion of disrupting and obstructing police is embedded within this description of their behavior and goals. It’s obvious free speech is not their true objective; harassing police officers is.

The city had charged the man with three counts of Disorderly Conduct for which he could be fined $500 each. Chief McManus claims the group uses “the First Amendment ‘as a guise’ to insult and verbally attack police officers.” But it’s worse than insults or verbal attacks. If the officers are dealing with suspects, it can compromise officer safety.

(Video) The Number 1 Abuse Tactic Narcissists Use Against A Target. #narcissism #narcissist #npd #cptsd

The city said of the defendant’s history of confrontations, “he’s interfered with duties, shouting abusive defamatory slogans calculated to incite violence and create scenes designed to waste public resources and time.”

In the end, the court found the man guilty of all three counts.

This example could serve as good training generally for law enforcement officers all over America. But, sadly, many city, county, and state leaders do not recognize when people cross the line that San Antonio’s police chief, prosecutor, and court obviously do. Each officer needs to take his or her jurisdiction’s political bent into consideration when dealing with these caustic folks.

All too often this will mean officers in cities like New York, Baltimore, Seattle, and San Francisco will be forced to absorb their vulgar abuse. This leaves bystanders wondering why their police officers will not properly deal with people who are so obviously harassing, distracting, and attempting to provoke them while attempting to perform their duties.

They’ve got to wonder if those nasty folks can get away with that abusive behavior with the police then what can they get away with doing to an ordinary citizen? In so many of these cases, it’s not a matter of free speech but of the behavior accompanying the speech.


How do you deal with an aggressive cop? ›

How To Deal With Confrontational Cops
  1. Say as Little as Possible & Don't Admit Anything.
  2. Exhibit Non-Aggressive Behavior & Speech.
  3. Demonstrate Respect.
  4. If you Must Get Mad, Do it Later!
  5. Next step: contact a Colorado criminal defense attorney.

What is the most important skill for police officers in resolving a dispute? ›

Active listening — also called empathetic and responsive listening — is considered essential by the authors of “Resolving Conflicts at Work.” It starts with clearing your mind and offering your undivided attention, but is much more than that.

What are coping mechanisms for police officers? ›

Officers develop a variety of coping strategies to handle stress resulting from their official duties. Some coping strategies are maladaptive, such as alcohol misuse and withdrawal from social support. Proactive coping strategies include participating in counseling, peer support programs, and awareness training.

How would you fully explain police discretion to the group? ›

Police discretion is an officer's freedom to make decisions on the job. Police discretion is used while officers are performing their official day-to-day duties.

What happens if you yell at a cop? ›

To be clear, there isn't a law that specifically forbids yelling, swearing or otherwise being rude to a law enforcement officer – as long as you're not threatening to harm them or someone else. This is protected speech under the First Amendment.

What are police de escalation techniques? ›

Some examples of de-escalation techniques include:
  • Slowing down an encounter by “backing off” from immediate intervention or action. ...
  • Be compassionate but firm, in communicating and “defusing” a tense situation before escalation by either an officer or citizen occurs.
  • Use discretion to the officer's advantage.

What are the four ways to handle a dispute? ›

4 steps To resolve Conflict: CARE
  1. Communicate. Open communication is key in a dispute. ...
  2. Actively Listen. Listen to what the other person has to say, without interrupting. ...
  3. Review Options. Talk over the options, looking for solutions that benefit everyone. ...
  4. End with a Win-Win Solution.
Mar 13, 2017

What is the most effective process of resolving a dispute? ›

Negotiation is the preeminent mode of dispute resolution. While the two most known forms of ADR are arbitration and mediation, negotiation is almost always attempted first to resolve a dispute. Negotiation allows the parties to meet in order to settle a dispute.

What are 3 good coping mechanisms? ›

Take care of your body.
  • Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
  • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco, and substance use.

What are stress reduction techniques for police officers? ›

9 Ways to keep the stress of police work in check
  • Keep learning about the law. ...
  • Communicate with your friends on the force. ...
  • Have a support system. ...
  • Exercise. ...
  • Enlist psychological help. ...
  • Believe in something. ...
  • Practice gratitude. ...
  • Prioritize sleep.
May 14, 2018

What is an example of a police officer using discretion? ›

Officers can make an arrest or issue a citation, but as inevitable “social workers of last resort” [60], their power of discretion permits them to refer a person to addiction treatment, take them to a harm reduction facility, or issue naloxone and a warning, and doing these things in lieu of arrest.

What are three factors that influence police discretion? ›

The not so good news is that another consistent finding in the literature is that the discretionary actions of the police can be influenced by extralegal factors such as the neighborhood where the actions occur and the age, demeanor, gender, and race/ethnicity of a suspect.

What are the 5 factors of police discretion? ›

  • Five Factors of police discretion. nature of crime. ...
  • nature of crime. the less serious crime to public, more freedom officers have to ignore it.
  • relationship between criminal/victim. ...
  • relationship between police and criminal/victim. ...
  • race/ethnicity, age, gender, class. ...
  • departmental policy.

Can you call the cops on someone yelling at you? ›

You can call the police anytime for anything and they must respond. But just for yelling at you is petty. Just flip them the bird and go on about your business and don't waste the officers time with that.

What happens if you slap a cop? ›

Assaulting a police officer is considered a violent felony, no matter the type. Usually, probation isn't an option, putting you in prison from two years to life imprisonment. The court of law takes all kinds of assault seriously.

Can a cop pull you over for crying? ›

Absolutely, our job it to look out for problems, crimes, hazards, and people in trouble or in need of help. Seeing someone in a car crying, whether on the side of the road or while in motion, could indicate someone in emergent need of help, hurting or a crime victim.

How do you Deescalate a crowd? ›

Consider handing out free water/food – it improves the overall mood of the crowd. Do not respond to taunts, threats, or agitation. Understand the context of agitated behavior – you can try and address the source of the problem. Maintain an even tone of voice and do not try to “out shout” aggressive individuals.

What are three verbal de-escalation tactics? ›

Verbal De-Escalation Tips
  • Do Not Be Defensive.
  • Be Honest.
  • Explain Limits and Rules.
  • Be Respectful.
  • Empathize with Feelings, Not Behaviors.
  • Suggest Alternatives.

What are the five verbal de-escalation steps? ›

The five keys are: give the person undivided attention; be nonjudgmental; focus on the person's feelings, not just the facts; allow silence; and use restatement to clarify messages.

What are the 6 C's of conflict management? ›

The theory of conflict management depicted using the Six C's model (Context, Condition, Causes, Consequences, Contingencies, and Covariance) (Glaser, 1978)

What are 7 ways to deal with conflict? ›

The 7 Steps to Resolve a Conflict
  • Step 2: Take turns in explaining your feelings and thoughts about the situation. ...
  • Step 3: Identify the conflict. ...
  • Step 4: Take turns in exploring options to resolve the conflict. ...
  • Step 5: Agree on a solution. ...
  • Step 6: State the solution. ...
  • Step 7: Decide when to evaluate the solution.
Mar 2, 2021

What is a peaceful resolution of conflict? ›

Conflict resolution is a way for two or more parties to find a peaceful solution to a disagreement among them. The disagreement may be personal, financial, political, or emotional. When a dispute arises, often the best course of action is negotiation to resolve the disagreement.

What is the calm method of conflict resolution? ›

The CALM method is a technique for parents to use to communicate with their children, whether that be talking through a conflict or just sharing about what happened that day. The goal of this method is to give children a voice and help them feel heard.

What qualities help people successfully deal with conflict? ›

Conflict Management Skills
  • Active Listening. Active listening focuses on being attentive to what the other person has to say. ...
  • Emotional Intelligence. Emotional intelligence describes the ability to perceive and understand other peoples' emotions as well as your own. ...
  • Patience. ...
  • Impartiality. ...
  • Positivity. ...
  • Open Communication.
May 10, 2021

What is the most effective coping strategy? ›

Relaxation. Engaging in relaxing activities, or practicing calming techniques, can help to manage stress and improve overall coping. Physical recreation. Regular exercise, such as running, or team sports, is a good way to handle the stress of given situation.

What is the best coping strategy? ›

Take vacations away from home and work. Engage in pleasurable or fun activities every day. Practice relaxation exercises such as yoga, prayer, meditation or progressive muscle relaxation. Avoid use of caffeine and alcohol.

What is the behavioral coping strategy? ›

any strategy in which a person manages a stressful event or situation by modifying his or her actions.

What are the two forms of stress that may affect police behavior? ›

A study categorized police stress into two types: organizational and operational.

What is the leading causes of police stress? ›

Poor Management. Inadequate or Broken Equipment (Often due to a lack of funds) Excessive Overtime (Both voluntary and involuntary)

When faced with a conflict police officers should? ›

When faced with a conflict, police officers should always do what? Be calm and non-confrontational.

What are the four types of stress that affect officers? ›

Most of the law enforcement stressors can be grouped into four categories: (1) organizational practices and characteristics, (2) criminal justice system practices and characteristics, (3) public practices and characteristics, and (4) police work itself.

What are stress management techniques for first responders? ›

Responder Self-Care Techniques

Write in a journal. Talk to family, friends, supervisors, and teammates about your feelings and experiences. Practice breathing and relaxation techniques. Maintain a healthy diet and get adequate sleep and exercise.

Should police officers have discretion? ›

Discretion is necessary to effective law enforcement because police procedures are not always clearly defined in law and because a community's laws may differ from current norms.

What helps promote self respect in individual officers? ›

What are the benefits of a code of ethics? helps engender self-respect in individual officers and contributes to mutual respect among police officers and helps in the development of an esprit de corps and common goals.

What defines police brutality? ›

Police Brutality by definition is the use of excessive force, usually physical, but potentially in the form of verbal attacks and psychological intimidation, by a police officer.

What are two negatives against police discretion? ›

A concern with police discretion is the doubts of the proper use of discretion. Some Cons of discretion were community distrust, police using their own beliefs and views to determine what's serious and not, and leniencies for one person versus another, consistency.

What factors influence police behavior? ›

As a whole, situational characteristics—particularly legal characteristics—have a relatively strong influence over officer behavior.
  • Suspect characteristics. ...
  • Suspects' race/ethnicity. ...
  • Suspects' sex. ...
  • Suspects' age. ...
  • Suspects' socioeconomic status. ...
  • Other suspect characteristics: mental status, demeanor, intoxication.

Which is the most important factor that influence police discretion? ›

Characteristics of the suspect — Demeanor, style of dress and grooming may influence police discretion. Poorly groomed suspects can expect less respectful treatment. Some officers treat men and woman differently.

Do legal factors limit the discretion of a police officer? ›

The criminal law is not one of the causes of police discretion. Full enforcement of the law is not possible. The neighborhood environment influences officer discretion. Official department policies are usually created via systematic rulemaking.

Which of the following is true about the use of discretion by a police officer? ›

Which of the following is true of police discretion? It allows officers to decide where to focus their energies.

What are the four major factors said to influence officers in exercising discretion? ›

Police discretion is influenced by the circumstances of each situation such as: 1) seriousness of the crime 2) strength of the evidence 3) preference of the victim 3) relationship between victim and suspect 4) demeanor of suspect.

What are unacceptable police behaviors? ›

Examples of police misconduct include police brutality, dishonesty, fraud, coercion, torture to force confessions, abuse of authority, and sexual assault, including the demand for sexual favors in exchange for leniency. Any of these actions can increase the likelihood of a wrongful conviction.

Does aggressive patrol increase crime? ›

Several studies have found that the use of aggressive patrol techniques such as vehicle stops and stakeouts produce high arrest rates and low crime rates.

What is the most controversial responsibility of the police? ›

13 The use of force, especially deadly force, is often the most controversial discretionary decision made by police officers.

What are the three types of police abuse of authority? ›

Here are three common examples of police misconduct.
  • False Arrests From Illegal Search and Seizures. One of the most common ways police abuse their power is through false arrest. ...
  • Excessive or Unreasonable Force. ...
  • Misuse of Position or Power.
Oct 26, 2018

What are four different forms of unethical conduct in policing? ›

Examples of police misconduct include, but are not limited to:
  • Use of excessive force.
  • Tampering with evidence.
  • Police brutality.
  • Mishandling evidence.
  • Coerced confessions.
  • Sexual assault.
  • Lying on police reports.
  • False imprisonment or arrest.
Sep 14, 2022

What is ethical behavior of police officers? ›

The code of conduct consists of ethical mandates law enforcement officers use to perform their duties. These guidelines include acting impartially; exercising discretion; using only necessary force; and maintaining confidentiality, integrity, and a professional image at all times.

Can cops intimidate people? ›

The Police may legally lie, bluff, mislead and intimidate you. Most “avoidable arrests” occur from trickery and intimidation and failing to understand your rights and when to assert them.

How do you stop cops from busting a party? ›

Assert your right not to allow them to enter your home.

State clearly and politely, "With all due respect, I do not consent to having you enter my home." If they ask "Why not?" then reply by saying that "I can't let you inside without a warrant".

Do police officers have emotions? ›

While it is appropriate and often necessary to conceal emotional reactions on the job, the emotional reactions a police officer has to the stressful situations they face on the job must be released or addressed in some way. If not, the police officer will likely become emotionally numb. Emotions are a package-deal.

What is aggressive patrol strategy? ›

Definitions And Prevalence. We define aggressive policing (or aggressive order maintenance policing) as an expansive set of strategies used by law enforcement to proactively control disorder and strictly punish all levels of deviant behavior.

What are some of the most common consequences of police stressors? ›

Effects of Stress and Trauma on Police Officers
  • Poor Sleep. ...
  • Negative Coping Mechanisms. ...
  • Burnout. ...
  • Aggression and Violence. ...
  • Trauma and Stress-related Disorders. ...
  • Chronic Stress. ...
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ...
  • Substance Use Disorders.

What is the zero tolerance police policy? ›

Zero-tolerance policing (ZTP) is a strategy that aims to reduce minor offences and more serious crime through relentless order maintenance and aggressive law enforcement, against even minor disorder and incivilities (Dur and Van Der Weele, 2013).

What is considered abuse of power by police? ›

The term “abuse of power” encompasses all the ways police officers can abuse their positions by taking advantage of the very people they have pledged to serve and protect. While most police officers take that pledge seriously, there are some who abuse the power given them to fulfill selfish personal desires.

What is the most common police corruption? ›

The most common type of police corruption is the acceptance of bribes from those who deal in the vices of gambling, prostitution, illegal drinking, and the illegal use of drugs.

What is the most serious type of police misconduct? ›

#1: False Imprisonment

False imprisonment occurs when an officer takes an individual into custody without having probable cause or obtaining an arrest warrant.


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