What not to say to police


Show some respect and you could get off a ticket.

By Taylor Thanos

When it comes to interacting with police, respect, honesty and other codes of conduct could determine whether or not someone receives a ticket.

“We give verbal warnings,” said NIU Police Sgt. Alan Smith. “Just because we stop a person does not mean they are going to get a ticket.”

Smith has been a member of the force for almost six years. He believes that respect is a key factor in his area of work.

People sometimes think that because they have been stopped by a police officer, receiving a ticket is the only outcome. Some police officials, however, feel that if a proper amount of respect and compliance is given from the individual, the chance of being legally reprimanded could decrease.

“We want people to deal with an officer the way they would want to be dealt with,” said Sgt. John Sietsema of the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office who has served on the force for 26 years.

Taylor Dupree, freshmen business marketing major, has been stopped for traffic violations and said showing respect can go a long way.

“Try to be as polite as possible,” Dupree said. “I’ve gotten out of a few tickets because of it. Just do what the police say and be polite.”

Police officials do come in contact with certain individuals that approach the situation from another angle.

Smith gives advice to those who are getting pulled over not to “name-drop” or tell the officer you know someone in the department.

“I even tell my own family not to use my name if they have gotten pulled over,” Smith said.

Other don’ts include avoiding sudden movements, such as reaching into pockets, bags or glove compartments without the consent of the officer. No bribes, name calling, cursing, yelling or disrespectful jargon should be used.

“We definitely want to be shown politeness and courtesy like you would show anyone else,” Sietsema said.

DeKalb Police Lt. Carl Leoni, who has been on the force for 31 years, believes it should be common sense to speak respectfully to anyone, especially a police officer.

“The people that just find it hard to find any respect for an officer will receive a ticket or worse, depending on the situation,” he said.

Officers Smith, Sietsema and Leoni speak on behalf of all police officers when they ask citizens to be, above all other things, respectful and courteous.

“We treat people with respect and expect the same in return,” Smith said. “Sometimes people lose track of the fact that we have a job to do.”