Defensive DVD Review: Interactions with Law Enforcement While Armed
Presented by Jeremy Wilson and Rob Pincus
Published by the Personal Defense Network as part of the Personal Firearms Defense DVD series
When the Personal Defense Network (PDN) sent me this DVD, I realized something about the defensive shooting world: there are two subjects about concealed carry (CCW) which no one seems to want to touch, yet they’re something that those people who carry a concealed handgun are going to face sooner or later. The first is what to do with your pistol when you need to use the toilet, and the other is how to handle an encounter with law enforcement. (No, I’m not suggesting that there’s a relationship, only that you’ll probably have to do both at some point and should probably know how!)
I’m not sure why, but these two subjects are ignored more than any other. While PDN hasn’t yet produced a video on how to handle odd and embarrassing situations, into which the toilet part would fit, they have seen fit to tackle what to do when you need to interact with the police.
Most of the information you’ll find on interacting with law enforcement deals with the immediate aftermath of a defensive shooting. That’s an important part of defensive shooting and how you handle that interaction can have long-term consequences with your legal defense, but the reality is that you’re far more likely to deal with the police when you’ve been stopped for a traffic violation or if someone has caught a glimpse of your pistol and made a panicked call to 9-1-1. This DVD focuses on those more mundane, everyday interactions where your concealed handgun might become an issue — information which is strangely absent in the training business.
The presence of your lawfully carried firearm complicates any interaction you might have with law enforcement, even if it’s a situation in which your gun isn’t part of the encounter. Of course the complication factor goes up if you’ve had to threaten to use your gun, or if you’ve drawn it but not shot. In this DVD, Rob Pincus and Officer Jeremy Wilson cover the range of possible interactions you might have with law enforcement, and show you through discussions and re-enactments exactly what you should and should not do.
The DVD starts out with the interaction which might occur because someone saw your concealed handgun. This might happen because the wind blew your cover garment open, or you reached up for something and pulled the garment up, or even because you were doing something physically active. Whatever the cause, the police respond because they’ve been called to investigate a “man with a gun”.
It sounds like a petty call to make, and a lot of people in the firearms community would immediately complain about the “hoplophobes” and their fearful over-reactions, but as Wilson points out you’d probably feel differently if the situation were reversed — and the officer would feel differently if the person he didn’t check went on to kill several people in a coffee shop. The bottom line is that the police have a duty to investigate when they’re called, and how you handle the encounter is going to have a huge bearing on the officer’s attitude and procedure during that incident.
One of the re-enactments of this scenario shows what happens as a result of the actions of the person with the gun. For instance, if you’re talking on the phone and gesticulating wildly because that’s what you normally do when on the phone, the officer who witnesses that behavior will likely take that into account in making his approach. If, however, you’re yelling into the phone and making moves consistent with someone who’s very angry, the officer’s approach is likely to be different. Wilson shows what that difference entails, and how you should respond in both circumstances when the officer does make contact.
As Wilson points out, they deal with this kind of call on a daily basis. They expect a normal reaction to being “made”, and if your reaction is different in some way (angrier or more confrontational than normal, for instance) they’ll take additional precautions to keep themselves safe. You may even be handcuffed and your firearm secured during the encounter, and Wilson explains why it’s done, how it’s done, and how you should respond at every step. He even gives some valuable pointers on how to properly complain about the incident after it’s happened, and how the police handle those complaints.
Open carry is getting popular these days, and while I in general I don’t recommend the practice you need to know how to deal with responding officers if you choose to carry openly. Wilson points out that the overwhelming majority of open carriers are normal, non-confrontational firearms owners; it’s that 2% on the fringe, the ones looking for a confrontation, who color their perceptions. If you behave calmly and professionally, the officer usually will respond in kind. As he points out, you need to remember that your firearm is the catalyst for the interaction, the reason they’re responding in the first place. He again describes what the police will do as part of their investigation, what they’re looking for, and how you can make the contact as quick and easy as possible without surrendering your rights.
(In all cases, the less comfortable the officer is with firearms in general, the more formalized and cautious will be his response. Be alert to that uncomfortable officer and act accordingly!)
There are situations where you may have had a confrontation with someone else and needed to display or even draw (but not actually shoot) your concealed pistol. Wilson and Pincus go into detail about what you should do: how to contact authorities, what to say on the phone, the information to give responding officers, and how to help them understand that you’re the good guy in the story. His directions are sometimes contrary to what you might hear in the local gunstore, but his explanations of the “why” behind his recommendations make perfect sense. I’ll take his word over an anonymous internet troll any day!
The DVD stops short of an in-depth discussion about how to deal with responding officers after you’ve actually had to fire your gun in self defense, but there is a segment where they cover the broad outline of what you need to do. This is a topic which can take up a whole DVD (and has), but they present the information as an extension of the other topics they’ve covered. Seeing and hearing it in the broader context of interaction with police make the points more understandable, and even if this is the only exposure you have to this topic you’ll be far better educated than most!
The combination of real experience (Wilson is a currently-serving police officer, and Pincus is a former police officer) and down-to-earth explanations make this an authoritative addition to your defensive library. I heartily recommend it.
Interactions with Law Enforcement While Armed is available at the I.C.E. Store.
-=[ Grant Cunningham ]=-
Disclosure: This DVD was supplied by the Personal Defense Network for review. I am affiliated with PDN as a contributor and have taught with Rob Pincus in the past. I receive no compensation should you purchase this DVD.