The Mantra

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by Eric Peters EricPetersAutos.com

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Sun Tzu counseled that it is madness — because pointless — to directly confront a superior foe. A costumed goon with a badge and a gun, for instance. You will lose (cue Dolph Lundgren voice from Rocky IV).

But that doesn’t mean you must cooperate with said goon.

In that spirit, here are some practical tips and things to keep in mind the next time you’re compelled to interact with one of America’s Swinest:

* Never forget: Cops are not your friend; they are not there to “help” you. They are there to bust you. Don’t make it easier for them. Make it harder for them.

* Never forget that cops are legally permitted to lie to you. Take nothing they tell you at face value. Assume their intentions are malignant.

* Never forget that a cop is a law enforcer. He is there to enforce the law — any law, every law. It doesn’t matter whether the law is reasonable — or whether you’re a nice guy who doesn’t “deserve” to be hassled. Cops are paid to enforce the law. Period.

* If stopped, keep your window rolled up almost all the way; leave just enough of a gap to allow you to hand the cop your license/documents. If he “asks” you to roll it down, politely decline. Whenever a cop “asks,” it means you do not have to comply. If they order you to do something, then you must do it. But force them to make it clear you are being ordered to comply — “Is that an order?” — and are only complying under duress and not of your own free will.

* Be civil — not slavish. A cop is not “sir.” By so addressing him, you feed his inner bully and Rule Number One for dealing effectively with bullies is to not let them think you are a pussy. Simple — and curt — “yes” and “no” answers will get the point across without being directly confrontational.

* Never make the mistake of responding directly to a cop’s purposefully leading questions — which means, all of his questions. If the cop says, “Do you know why I stopped you?” You tell him, “I suppose you will tell me your reason.” If he says, “Do you know how fast you were going?” You say, “I’m sure you have an opinion.” If he asks whether you’ve been drinking, you remain silent.

* Never concede anything that could be construed — will be construed in court — as evidence in support of whatever charges are leveled at you.

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Eric Peters [send him mail] is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his website.

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