If it is, in fact, a cop… .
There are creeps out there with cop-style wig-wag lights built into the grille of their vehicle – just like a legitimate unmarked car. Realistic-looking fake badges are easy to get, too. A quick Google search is all it takes and – viola – Instant Officer.
Women have been assaulted by thugs pretending to be cops who use this gear to effect a “traffic stop.” Most people reflexively defer to authority and submit without question. Even when they ought to be asking questions.
Here’s what you should know about this deal – and some things to keep in mind, too:
* If you find a “cop” on your ass but honestly don’t believe you violated any law, be wary –
Though there are plenty of jerks in uniform, usually, they don’t bother you’ve unless you’ve violated some jerky ordinance, such as “speeding.” So if you do get pulled over at random, be on your guard. In particular, if it is late at night and you’re not on a well-traveled road.
* Your “threat level” should notch up again if the car or the “cop” doesn’t look right –
Most traffic cops drive standard-issue cruisers; typically, large sedans like the Ford Crown Victoria, Chevy Impala and Malibu and (recently) the Dodge Charger. Some departments also use SUVs such as the Chevy Tahoe – but these are much less common as traffic enforcement units. It’s rare to encounter a cop driving an unmarked coupe; never a luxury car, import sport-compact or anything old and ratty. A Creep Clue is if the “cop” is driving what appears to be an ex-cop car – an older model Vic or previous bodystyle Caprice (either the “Shamu the Whale” model or the boxy one that preceded it). These old units often get sold at auction after they’re retired from the force. Faded paint and areas where decals were obviously removed are huge red flags that the “cop” is a fake.
* Ditto the look of the cop himself –
Traffic cops will almost always be in full uniform, even if they are in an unmarked car. They will always be well-groomed (shaved, decent haircut; not dirty or smelly). If the dude who pulled you over is unkempt, doesn’t behave professionally (asks strange questions; creeps you out) he might not be the real deal. Pay attention to your intuition – and heed common sense.
* If you are stopped, it’s your right to ask to see the officer’s identification –
A real cop will not have a problem showing it to you. Take a good look; the photo should match the person. If the “cop” is not in uniform and just “flashes” his badge – not allowing you to have a good look – be concerned. Something’s not right.
* If you’re uncomfortable, be cautious –
Keep your window rolled up three quarters of the way and your door locked (but turn off the engine and put the vehicle in “Park” to assure the cop – if he’s real – you’re not about to flee). Explain your concerns; again, if it is a real cop, he will be understanding – or should be.
* If the officer is not in uniform and not in a marked car ask for “back-up” –
Explain your concerns and request that another officer be dispatched to the scene. This may not make the cop happy, but it is the smart move if you really do suspect something’s not quite Kosher. Use your cell to dial 911 if you feel threatened; tell the operator that you have been just been pulled over but are not sure whether the person who pulled you over is a real cop. You may be creating some hassle for yourself – assuming it’s a real cop and the stop is legit. But if it’s not a real cop, you may have just saved your own life – or saved yourself from being hideously assaulted.
* Worst Case Scenarios –
In the worst case – you are sure a weirdo playing cop is definitely after you – try to get to a very public, well-lighted place as quickly as possible. It’s better to risk a real ticket or even worse by doing whatever you have to do in order to get away from what might be a violent predator. Honk your horn, make noise . . . make a scene. If you have a cell with video capability and the situation allows, try to film the creep. Ring friends (and 911) and tell them everything you can about the other vehicle (make/model, color, tags, anything unusual about it, etc.) as well as a description of the “cop.”
Finally: Be prepared to defend yourself if need be. Women are, in general, at a huge disadvantage in terms of relative strength. Most men can easily overpower most women. Learning a few self-defense moves is a great idea; so is keeping an “equalizer” in your purse – whether it’s pepper spray or (law permitting) a firearm. In the case of the latter, get trained, learn how to safely handle a weapon and how to shoot straight; many states now allow concealed-carry. If you are comfortable handling a gun, keeping one with you when driving alone could be a lifesaver.
The politically correct “wisdom” says you should be a passive victim and cooperate with the scumbag who is trying to assault you. But that is a great way to end up dead in the trunk of your own car and the subject of the next edition of America’s Most Wanted. Do whatever you have to do. Use your head. Stay in control.
And stay alive.