Why do some people choose to NOT comply with police?

Bridgeton NJ Car Stop
Bridgeton NJ Car Stop – CNN Video still shot.

We know in Ferguson in the summer of 2014 that Michael Brown was not complying with Officer Wilson as he physically attacked him and attempted to wrestle the officers gun away from him. We know what the end result of that altercation was. If Michael Brown doesn’t resist arrest and attack the officer – that situation would have ended with him being arrested and likely alive today. We know that when Eric Garner was being arrested for the 30-something time in Staten Island, he chose on the 31st time to not comply and did not put his hands behind his back as he had done many times before. He chose to pull his hand away when the officer standing in front of him ( on the now famous video of their altercation in the “I can’t breathe” video shows ) tried to grab it to cuff him. He clearly stated “No, don’t touch me!” refusing to be handcuffed which lead other officers having to use physical force to get him into handcuffs. That struggle and the extreme poor health of Mr. Garner resulted in him having an asthma and heart attack in which he expired. Had Mr. Garner submitted to the arrest, as he had dozens of times before in his three plus decade of criminality, he would have been arrested and likely survived the day.

So here we are in Bridgeton, New Jersey on December 30th, 2014. Ten days after 2 NYPD police officers are assassinated in their patrol car by a nutcase career criminal with a false sense of martyrdom and 4 days after the first of those two officers was laid to rest, 2 officers from that police department initiate a car stop at night and the whole incident is caught on their patrol car dash cam. You can clearly see the driver complying with the commands given to him by the officers and with his hands out the window like he is told ( so they know what he is up to ). The passenger, Jerome Reid, a 36 year old career criminal ( which started at the age of 15 when he shot at NJ police and did 13 YEARS in jail for that crime ) did not follow virtually any of the officers commands, particularly after the officer on the passenger side had already seen and recovered a gun – in plain sight in the glove compartment. This officer knew Reid because he had previously arrested Reid recently prior to this engagement and knew of his extensive record. So once again we have a career criminal choosing to not comply with an officers lawful orders, who knows he is going to be arrested yet again ( for the gun in the car ). He chooses to push his way out of the car to confront the officer when told not to and the officer opens fire as does his partner and Reid is shot multiple times and dies. This was discussed by myself and a defense attorney on CNN Tonight on Thursday January 22nd, 2015. Now of course the race baiters won’t touch this because the officer involved directly in the altercation and the shooting is black, even though the suspect is black. Of course had the other officer who is white initiated the whole thing then naturally it would make a difference right Reverend Al? <insert eye roll here> For those that didn’t catch my sarcastic wit – race had nothing to do with this incident as it had nothing to do with some other recent high profile cases like Staten Island and Ferguson.

In nearly 22 years working in policing and since then now working part time as a media consultant on police issues, I have never understood why people who have committed some sort of infraction or penal law crime in which they are now under arrest, choose to not comply with the lawful orders given to them by police? Is it a cultural thing? Is it a newfound sense of F the police where people feel they can just disrespect the lawful authority of the police and have their own street level Judge Judy session? Is it a lack of common sense since common sense many times is not very common in todays society? I just don’t get it. It is a really simple concept. If you are stopped by police (especially if you know you did wrong) you simply follow the instructions they are giving you. If they ask for ID, then give them the ID. If they ask to see your hands and keep them in view so they know where they are, then do it. Especially if you are told by police you are under arrest, even if you totally do not agree with the arrest, at that time , in that place, that is not the place to start an arguement with the police. Submit to the arrest and either back at the precinct, or in central booking, or in front of the judge this will get hammered out. If you were wrongfully arrested, not only will you be let go but you will have a fruitful discussion with an attorney no doubt to sue the police. If you were rightfully arrested then you will have to try to talk your way out of it at a grand jury hearing and / or trial.

Let me be very clear about something. I value human life and when I hear of someone losing their life, even in a justifiable police shooting it is a human life that was lost and that should not be taken lightly and I know police officers do not take that lightly. Someone through a series of bad choices in their life came to the point where their life was lost either through a violent act from someone in the community or a violent interaction with police which ended with the police having to use deadly physical force. That is a shame that so many people in our country have either found themselves in unfortunate circumstances and / or cannot find a way to make better life choices to keep them on a path away from violence. Having said that, I would hope that more and more people are teaching their children, siblings, neighbors, and friends that getting involved with criminal activity a sure way to guarantee a one way ticket to prison or an early grave. Also as important is having a newfound understanding and respect for the police, knowing they have a job to do and how you interact with them, especially as a criminal could be the difference between taking your lumps like a man ( or woman ) and possibly not walking away from that situation if you back them into a corner where they feel their life or the life of others is in jeopardy, forcing them to use whatever amount of force to ensure their own safety.

It’s still a fairly new year, so keep calm and comply with the police. Please.

About Tom Verni

As a retired NYPD Detective with nearly 22 years of experience as a Community Policing Officer, Certified Police Academy Instructor, City-Wide Community Affairs Liaison, and Crime Prevention Specialist, Tom Verni has a wide breadth of public speaking experience and extensive knowledge in various aspects of police training and community relations. He is now able to pass along this knowledge to law enforcement or other organizations seeking to enhance the skill sets of their personnel via training seminars. Tom is also available to media outlets for consulting services regarding crime issues or police related incidents.