From a Police Officer's Perspective.

Discussion in 'Conceal & Open Carry' started by threetango, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. threetango

    threetango Moderator Moderator

    Concealed carry in an automobile.

    Concealed Carry- A Police Officer's Prospective

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    I have been a Deputy with one of the largest counties in Missouri for some years now. Being in an area so riddled with methamphetamine one can naturally expect a lot of traffic stops during each shift. With a population of over 60,000 people I see a lot of diversity in my traffic stops, not necessarily in race, but in backgrounds. I see the rich, the poor, and everyone in between. One question that I have been asked countless times from all walks of life is “What do I do if I get pulled over and have my weapon in the car?” This question is usually followed up by something to the effect of “My CCW Instructor never fully answered that question.” So in the paragraphs below I will answer that question in the most complete way possible. Please understand that police work is not a science, but an art. Nowhere is this more true than during a traffic stop. I know officers who only pull over vehicles that they believe contain drugs, and I know of officers who pull over every car they see going six miles over the speed limit. This article is to be used as a guide to properly dealing with the police in the off chance that you are stopped while carrying your weapon.

    Step 1: Pull Over

    For most people this can go without saying, but I cannot count the times that vehicles will drive five or more miles before stopping. Not necessarily because they are running, or trying to get rid of evidence, but because they are either afraid or think that the officer will just get bored and go away. It doesn't matter if you think your innocent, or that he’s got the wrong person, pull over. Once you see the red and blue lights in your rear view mirror find the closest area (preferably on the right side of the road) and pull over. Because the police officer will be getting out of his or her vehicle and approaching yours with traffic buzzing by, get as far right as you safely can. This will allow the officer to position his vehicle in a way which will provide protection to him in the off chance that a vehicle does not see the bright red and blue lights flashing in front of them.

    Step 2: Roll Down BOTH of your front windows and place your hands on the steering wheel.

    Most people don’t understand why someone would want both of their windows to be rolled down, and without conducting hundreds of traffic stops it may be difficult to comprehend. Mostly seen in high traffic areas (i.e. highways, narrow roads, exit ramps etc.) an officer may feel safer and more protected from passing traffic making the approach from the passengers side. And with both of your hands on the steering wheel it is obvious to even the most rookie of police officers that you are not reaching for anything and that you most likely aren't going to cause problems.

    Step 3: Do Not Interrupt! But Mention that you have a firearm in the car.

    When I approach a vehicle I start every interaction the same: “Hello, I’m Deputy Bales from the Sheriff’s Office, I stopped you today because <insert reason here>. Could I please see your driver’s license and insurance card?” Almost every officer has a canned phrase to give drivers that he stops. Let him finish before announcing “I have a gun!” After he finishes calmly state “Officer, just so you know I have a Concealed Carry Endorsement and my weapon is <insert location here> would you like for me to hand it to you?” Do not assume that the officer wants you to hand it to him, while 99.99% of police officers will ask that you do indeed hand it to them, there are a few that will ask you to exit the vehicle and they will remove it themselves. Under no circumstances will I return to my vehicle with a loaded weapon still in yours, so don’t get the idea that it is violating your rights for me to hold onto your gun for a few minutes. Most importantly, if you take nothing else from this article please remember that the absolute WORST thing you can do is immediately reach for it without him asking you to. This will result in a very uncomfortable situation for both of you. “Why can’t I keep my gun with me since I've got a CCW and it’s a legal firearm?” Simply put, just because you may know it is legal doesn't mean that I do. And every officer has seen enough horror films in the police academy to last a lifetime and leave the impression that every gun can kill you. Once I have your weapon with me, along with your driver’s license and insurance I then return to my vehicle and provide dispatch with the serial number of the weapon as well as your license information. Now that I know it is a legal firearm we are on to the next step.

    Step 4: Getting Your Gun Back

    Some officers will approach your vehicle and simply hand you the gun. This practice is largely out dated and most officers are going to the system I was taught. While I am in my vehicle –and after I have been told the gun isn't stolen- I remove the magazine and unload the weapon. I will then take all of the bullets out of the magazine. I will re-approach your car, explain that you are/aren't getting a citation, I am handing you a bunch of bullets to be put straight in the cup holder, and that I am going to place your firearm in the back seat and the magazine a few feet away from it. I then explain that under no circumstances are you to mess with that weapon until I am out of sight. I then return to my vehicle and leave.

    And Now for the What If’s:

    “What if the officer doesn't ask about a weapon in the car, my state doesn't require that I tell him?”

    I live in Missouri, and here –like in most states- you do NOT have to tell the officer that you have a weapon in the car unless he asks. That being said if I find out you have a CCW from dispatch or some other way I will not be very happy when I do ask you and find out that you are carrying a weapon. It is ALWAYS best to be straight forward about having a weapon.

    “Why are so many cops against CCW?”

    This is the biggest misconception in the firearm world. I have never in my life met a group of people that were such big proponents of concealed carry and the personal ownership of firearms. For example: The Sheriff of my county had the authority to charge up to $100.00 for the fingerprinting and filing of a CCW. He believed so strongly that citizens had the right to protect themselves that he charged $13.81, the exact amount that it cost him to pay a deputy to take fingerprints and run a background check plus the cost of the fingerprint card. Police Officers are your friends, and as a whole, they believe strongly in your right to carry concealed. With that being said, all of us come across those few rotten apples who aren't very friendly about their guns and ruin the experience for the rest of the world. Just be honest and straight forward about the gun that is in your car and you will be just fine.

    “What if I have a CCW Endorsement and do not have the gun with me?”

    Not a problem. Follow the first and second steps exactly the same as if you were carrying. At the same point that you would tell him that you have a firearm in the car explain that you do not have one with you, even though you have the endorsement.


    While you will still find a few officers who feel it is necessary to either go beyond what they should do, or just not worry about the gun at all, honesty is always the best solution. Just be straight forward about the gun, or lack thereof, and you will be on your way in just a few short minutes.
  2. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 RETIRED MODERATOR Lifetime Supporter

    Nope...NOT happening !!

    In Pennsylvania, a routine traffice stop is just that...a traffic stop. NOT a felony stop !!

    Under our firearm laws, there is actually a statute that states their is no duty to inform the officer that

    I'm carrying concealed. And that's a good thing. Why would I want to inject a statement like "I gotta gun"

    into a routine but highly emotional situation ( for the cop & me ) when it has nothing to do with the reason

    I'm being pulled over. And it that article, the cop who wrote it wants the owner of the vehicle to either hand

    him the gun or get out into traffic so he can handle it. Hell no, my gun is loaded, one in the pipe, and most cops

    don't know their own firearms ( can you say negligent discharge ) let alone mine... and how it works or is rendered safe.

    Don't think so....!!

    And that MY perspective !! :rolleyes:

    Feel free to comment...

  3. threetango

    threetango Moderator Moderator

    Seems like the rules are all over the place on this.

    Here's a list ( by no means perfect) of "must inform".

    Let us know if you have different info on "must inform" for your state.

    Must Inform LEO if Carrying Concealed

    Alabama x NO
    Alaska X NO
    Arizona X NO
    Arkansas X YES
    California DEPENDS ON COUNTY
    Colorado X NO
    Connecticut X NO
    Delaware X NO
    Florida X NO
    Georgia X NO
    Idaho X NO
    Illinois NON-ISSUE STATE
    Indiana X NO
    Iowa X NO
    Kentucky X NO
    Louisiana x NO
    Massachusetts UPON REQUEST NO
    Michigan X NO
    Minnesota UPON REQUEST NO
    Mississippi UPON REQUEST YES
    Missouri X NO
    Montana X NO
    New Hampshire X NO
    New Jersey UNKNOWN
    New Mexico UPON REQUEST NO
    North Carolina X YES

    North Dakota UPON REQUEST NO
    Ohio X YES
    Oklahoma X UPON REQUEST NO
    Oregon X NO
    Pennsylvania X NO
    Rhode Island X NO
    South Carolina UPON REQUEST NO
    South Dakota X NO
    Tennessee UPON REQUEST NO
    Utah X NO
    Vermont X NO
    Washington UPON REQUEST NO
    West Virginia UPON REQUEST YES
    Wisconsin NON-ISSUE STATE
    Wyoming X NO

    Also it seems some places in Pennsylvania require it too :confused:.

    See last paragraph in link.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2012
  4. SHOOTER13

    SHOOTER13 RETIRED MODERATOR Lifetime Supporter

    Obviously Cumberland County PA needs a lesson in PA Commonwealth law...

    Just because they post "must inform" on their website it doesn't superceed PA State law.

    But, that was a good catch there 3T...
  5. JimA

    JimA New Member

    Michigan is a "must inform" state. When you get pulled over and they run your plate they know if the owner of that plate has a CPL. You still must disclose ASAP if you have a weapon with you. You must present your CPL, drivers license and registration. Very few officers here will want to handle your gun once they know you have a CPL.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  6. JimA

    JimA New Member

    I totally agree with you. I may have any one of six different makes of pistol on me at any time. I do not want someone who only knows how Glocks work to handle my loaded weapon. Let alone remove all the ammo from the gun and magazine.There is absolutely no reason to remove a pistol from a holster on a routine stop when the officer knows you have a license to carry it.
    This officer that wrote the article must really work in a bad area to be so paranoid. He stated he is not against citizens having the right to carry, but evidently not in his presence... I hope I never get stopped by a "richard" like him.
  7. chuckusaret

    chuckusaret Member


    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]Florida Statute 790.06 [/FONT][/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]…. The licensee must carry the license, together with valid identification, at all times in which the licensee is in actual possession of a concealed weapon or firearm and must display both the license and proper identification upon demand by a law enforcement officer. Violations of the provisions of this subsection shall constitute a noncriminal violation with a penalty of $25, payable to the clerk of the court. [/FONT][/FONT]

    [FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman][FONT=Times New Roman,Times New Roman]There is no need to inform the officer unless he asked. I did get one LEO upset when he asked me "Do you have any illegal weapons in the car" and I answered "NO" I don't have any illegal weapons but I do have a legal gun or two. I am quite sure he now better phrases his questions. [/FONT]
  8. 911JB

    911JB New Member

    Here in Iowa we dont have to inform. However when I got pulled over the last time I did, just to see what the reaction was. After I told him I had a permit to carry and was currently excercising that right he asked me where the firearm was. I told him and all he said was leave it there. I got my ticket and was on my way. So I guess the response you would get would depend on the officer that pulls you over.
  9. Balota

    Balota Sometimes lucky! Supporter

    I think you need to edit the list to show OK as an on demand State.

    In Oklahoma the relevant section of the law reads as follows: "Section 1290.8. POSSESSION OF LICENSE REQUIRED - NOTIFICATION TO POLICE OF GUN
    B. The person shall be required to have possession of his or her valid handgun license and a valid Oklahoma driver license or an Oklahoma State photo identification at all times when in possession of an authorized pistol. The person shall display the handgun license on demand of a law enforcement officer; provided, however, that in the absence of reasonable and articulable suspicion of other criminal activity, an individual carrying an unconcealed handgun shall not be disarmed or physically restrained unless the individual fails to display a valid handgun license in response to that demand."

    That is how the law reads. Perhaps I'm too trusting of a soul, but I would not wait for the officer to ask to see the license. If pulled over, I'll hand the officer my CCW, my DL and my insurance card, with the CCW on top. My guess is that when the first thing he sees is CCW, his first question will probably be "Are you carrying?" That allows me to answer with "Yes, at 3 o'clock outside the waistband." That seems like a much safer thing to say than "I've got a gun!"

    If the officer want to confiscate the gun, this trusting soul will be losing a bit of trust for that LEO. I'll probably say "You know you are not authorized to ask for that without probable cause of other criminal activity. What do you think I've done?" (Hopefully that won't be "resisting arrest" :eek:) If he still insists, I'll give him the gun and get his badge number so I can register a complaint. But chances are, in Oklahoma, it wouldn't come to that.
  10. Balota

    Balota Sometimes lucky! Supporter

    I think he mentioned that he works in an area full of meth dealers. I'm inclined to give the LEO in that situation the benefit of the doubt. But I would hope that a valid CCW and a peaceful demeanor could enable him to use some judgment about whether I'm a threat.

    I'd definitely be upset enough to complain if he returned an unloaded weapon, unloaded magazine and placed them out of practical reach. The very nature of the area makes him paranoid and also places me at risk. And he wants to leave me "defenseless"?
  11. ajamesp51

    ajamesp51 New Member

    So you legally carry a gun and the cop will no way let you keep it? He would rather remove it from your person further running the chance of an accident for no real reason. Seems like an us against them article.

    So much more to say but won't.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2012
  12. threetango

    threetango Moderator Moderator

    Balota, in relation to your #9 post, it's taken care of.
  13. jayson

    jayson New Member

    My CCW instructor (in Ohio) is HIGHLY regarded by local/state police !! MOST LEO know he was our instructor by how we conduct ourselves during a stop.

    Disclose you have a ccw even if NOT carrying !!!

    IF its dark TURN DOME LIGHT ON !!!!! and place HANDS ON THE WHEEL

    DONT BE RUDE/interrupt but start the conversation yourself. you can tell when someone walking up to you is about to talk to you. dont interrupt or be rude just try to beat them to the punch. MOST LEOs do have a canned phrase and so should YOU. In Ohio they know when they run your tag you have a ccw.

    Hello Officer, I am (or am not) the registered owner of the vehicle and have my ccw. I am (or am not) carrying tonight.

    I have yet to be stopped since I have had my CCW, however I dont think I would want someone I dont know grabbing my gun out of my holster. no safety/one in the pipe and a bullet in my ass lol lol

    I dont like the idea of handing a loaded gun to someone either... maybe I will have to do a safety check before I hand it over lol
  14. Kano

    Kano Junior Member

  15. Robb

    Robb New Member

    Being a LEO for over 20 years, here is my 2 cents on the matter.

    First: A traffic stop is not the place to defy authority. Not saying any of you would do that however If you feel you are wronged by an officer deal with it the next day in the Chief's office. If you feel ur 2nd amendment rights are or were violated-that can be determined later and you will be justifiably rewarded if that is the case.

    I am very pro CCW and have the utmost respect for citizens legally carrying and support them getting further training in the area. However it is assumed by a lot of people that LEO's are paranoid or scared because they do not just automatically trust a person. I belong to a local gun club and I am one of only a few LEO's out of the 1000 plus club membership. I get a lot of questions on this subject as well here in Ohio.

    I like the "leaving the gun in place" theory, however subject movement toward the location of the firearm would make "Anyone" nervous.
    People I have come in contact with I have usually conversed with to further get a feeling about them. I make a determination from there what I will do. If it is a citation issue I will generally leave them in the car and issue the cite and leave it at that. If it's an arrest situation I will take that gun. You will get it back if you are arrested then released, if arrested and incarcerated you will get it back ,,later.
    LEO's do not have a general trust for everyone. We are taught this in the academy. Generally some of the people we stop are law abiding people that may have just a couple of contacts with LE in thier entire life. Most cops begin with a respecful demeanor and yes I know,,there are some cops out there that not. Just like in all jobs there are professionals and there are those that are not.
    I dont know that I would empty out a mag and return it to the owner over a cite,,,but if thats what that officer felt was the right thing to do at that time then I back him up on it. He knows the area, the people, and safest manner to handle the situation in his area. It's his life on the line from his perspective during that stop. Once he leaves,, load that mag back up and you are on your way.

    As far as other states, I will not comment on the issue of advising the LEO if you have a gun or not. I do not have to work in that atmosphere so I will leave that up to those LEOs to chime in.

    Bottom line is its not worth getting hurt or hurting someone else over. I respect everyones right and would hope that you would exercise that right to help me (as an LEO) if I was on the side of the road and needed your help.

    It would help is there was one national law that was easily understood by everyone including law enforcement.

    My 2 cents guys,
    Thanks and be safe
  16. bhale187

    bhale187 New Member Supporter

    Wow, that was ridiculous (Deputy Bales' disposition) . Not a single bit of that is necessary nor reasonable during a stop for a traffic violation.
  17. MikeP

    MikeP New Member

    Share your thoughts

    Thank you for your perspective, I am one that has no problem letting an officer know that I am carrying. However, in your opinion and knowledge of the law, do I have the same right to ask the officer to dis-arm him/herself? We are both legally carrying arms and since we are not (YET) in a police state the same courtesy should apply to the officer. Just because one is a police officer does not mean they are not suffering from some type of mental illness or stress factor that leaves them unstable, possibly directly caused from the job they do. Sadly, we hear of police officers taking a loved one's life or their own or both.
    I don't think that an officer has any more right to request something from a law abiding citizen that they are not willing to do.
    I would like you to know that I thank you for your service.
    God Bless to you and our country.
  18. RibEye

    RibEye Steak Medium Rare

    I live in the Lone Star State ..... im good
  19. slickab

    slickab New Member

    Nope, ain't happening.

    If asked, i'll comply, but not voluntarily.

    I don't let anyone touch my CCW.

    REDTAIL New Member

    If & when,? I am ever stopped,? I always inform the LEO,That I am caring etc. It makes it much more easier,? To get that out of the way first.