Ravenwood - 05/20/06 06:00 PM
I had a run in with the Town of Leesburg's finest today. When you read this, ask yourself if this is how it would have happened in your city or state.
I drove out to Leesburg today and parked at one of the local parks that bordered the W&OD trail. The Washington and Old Dominion (affectionately called W&OD pronounced W-N-O-D) is a 44 mile trail that runs from Arlington to Purcellville, VA. It's an old converted rail line with lots of beautiful scenery.
I had just completed the 22-mile round trip from Leesburg to Purcellville and was loading my bicycle into the back of my Explorer, when I noticed a K-9 patrolman letting his German Shepard go 10-200. I was open carrying at the time but did not make any attempt to pull my t-shirt down over the Glock 27 holstered to my hip.
While the police officer was picking up after his dog, I finished putting my bike in the cargo area and headed up to the passenger seat to deposit my helmet, camelback, and mp3 player.
I walked back to the back, grabbed two bottles of water for the ride home, and closed the hatch. Officer Friendly approached and our conversation went something like this:
OFFICER FRIENDLY: Nice day, isn't it?
RAVENWOOD: Yeah, it's gorgeous.
(I smiled as I spoke and extended a hand out offering him a bottle of water. He motioned 'no thanks'.)
OFFICER FRIENDLY: What's with the Glock?
(I was impressed. Even in the holster, he was knew the make right off the bat.)
RAVENWOOD: It's for personal protection.
(I wasn't sure what answer he was looking for.)
OFFICER FRIENDLY: Have you been threatened or anything?
(Like that matters.)
RAVENWOOD: No. But you can't be too careful.
OFFICER FRIENDLY: You got a permit for that?
(Now I'm not sure where he was going with this. He was still pretty casual and completely non-intimidating, so I figured he was just probing me to see where I was coming from.)
RAVENWOOD: Yes. I do.
OFFICER FRIENDLY: Is your permit for open carry, or concealed carry?
(At this point I became a little concerned. I knew I was within my rights, I just didn't know if HE knew I was within my rights.)
RAVENWOOD: It's for concealed carry. But I believe you don't need a permit for open carry in Virginia.
(Actually, I KNEW FOR SURE I didn't need one.)
OFFICER FRIENDLY: That's right. I was just seeing if you knew the laws. I wasn't sure if you were law enforcement or not. Out here, off duty.
RAVENWOOD: Nope, just a citizen.
OFFICER FRIENDLY: You know, I ran into a guy a few weeks ago in a bad neighborhood. He had one of these... what they call Saturday Night Specials.
(I tried to keep from bristling at the derogatory term.)
OFFICER FRIENDLY: It was a cheap 9mm strapped to his hip, and he was pushing a stroller. He said that he'd been attacked a week or so before that he no longer felt safe just walking his kid down the street.
RAVENWOOD: Well, there are some bad people out there.
OFFICER FRIENDLY: Yeah. It's a shame. Well, you be careful.
RAVENWOOD: Thanks. You too.
We said our goodbyes and that was it. At no time did Officer Friendly ask me for any ID or verify that I had a permit. Overall, he was very friendly, respectful, and completely non-intimidating.
Now some of you may view even basic questioning as some sort of intimidation. Especially when he seemed to imply that open carry is regulated. But his demeanor was pleasant, and I don't view answering a few simple questions as intimidation.
Overall, I was very impressed with Leesburg's finest and wish all Northern Virginia cops were like Officer Friendly.
Nicely handled on both sides of the exchange. :)
he was probaly nice because you had a gun.
Some cops pretend they know more or less than they do to develop a mindset of the person they are dealing with. Sometimes this is fishing for an arrest, sometimes it can be fishing for an intelligence and/or character level.
Also, his comment about "what they call" SNP was possibly not his preferred wording of the term, but what the media calls them. He may have thought that would be nicer to say than POS or junk gun.
It is great to see that not all law enforcement out there is not of the JBT type. In fact, we were going over use of force at my PD today and even though I am the most timid, non-confrontational person on the department I think I came off as agressive with some of my answering. I think that is just my mindset to a threat right now and it should mellow with on the job training.
Good for you. Knowing your rights and showing respect for a polite inquiry is what makes it easier for other gun owners, present and future. I think cops are on our side, but feel a natural inclination to check things out since most of their experience with gun carrying citizens is decidedly negative.
Your reaction will go a ways towards cementing in that cops mind the difference between law abiding gun rights people and the lawbreakers he has to worry about.
And yeah, the cop did OK, but that's his job. Nice of you to pass on the positive experience though.
Who or what is JBT?
Texas law enforcement seems pretty cool when you are licensed to carry. Texas has no open carry, unless you are on your own private property. However, we did just change the law to where an unlicensed person can carry a weapon in their car if they are traveling, which means just about anywhere.
Some cops are supportive of the average joe carrying, others aren't. By and large, the State Troopers are pretty good about it. The local small-town law enforcement, who are by and large less educated and less trained, can cause problems. That seems to be almost universal.
I'm a fan of the 27, myself.
I had an interesting experience in New Mexico over a decade ago (before CCW was common in so many states). I carry my "wallet" as a pouch on my side, a habit I picked up long ago when traveling in Europe. I was at a gas station in Soccoro filling up my Minnesnowta-license-plated 'Wing when a NM trooper pulled up to the pump next to me.
We nodded hello at each other, and I continued to fill up the bike's tank. As I was replacing the pump nozzle, he looked over at me and asked, "Is that a weapon on your hip, sir?". I got very still, with my hands slightly out from my sides, and said, "Uh, no, it's my wallet." His response was, "Well, I just wanted to let you know that if you do decide to carry a firearm on your person here in New Mexico it has to be completely open, and not concealed."
I relaxed and grinned, said that I'd certainly remember it, thanked him, and asked him how to get to Datil Wells from there. A genuinely nice guy.
Minnesota also has "open carry" (outside of the cities which prohibit it, like Minneapolis and St. Paul), but openly carrying anything other than a rifle or shotgun during hunting seasons is basically an open invitation to be stopped and harassed by law enforcement. The best thing about the CCW permit is that we can finally carry the means to defend ourselves without being harassed.
My family is from Loudon County, and I loved visiting Leesburg and Purcellville as a kid. Glad to see the recent influx of outsiders hasn't ruined it.
I got my next-to-last speeding ticket in Hillsboro -- had my head stuck up where the sun don't shine and forgot about the speed-limit drop, coming down the mountain me into there. Mind you, this is also around 0130-0200 on a Sunday morning, coming back from the WV panhandle.
A Loudon Sheriff's deputy lit up his car just past the 25mph sign. Figuring to cut the paranoia level, I cleared my pistol (Makarov), and had it open on the passenger seat. By the time the Deputy approached the car, I had my hands on the steering wheel, with license, registration, and permit showing.
Anyway, he wrote me up, being nice enough to bag me for 53/35 instead of 53/25. As I'm signing the ticket, he points to the pistol and says,
"What IS that gun? Can I see it?".
It took about 5 minutes for him to give me the ticket, then we spent about 10-15 talking gun fun.
Not firearms-related, but somewhat related cop story.
Sometimes, common courtesy, respect and common interest can save your bacon with a cop. Long story short, I get nabbed doing 95 over the limit by a Michigan State trooper in 1985. I saw him as I blew by and slowed to a stop as soon as it was obvious he was en route. It took him a minute or so to arrive and I had already shut off the bike, produced license, insurance, registration and removed helmet, gloves and jacket. His first Q: Why did you stop? I answered truthfully, I was flying (speeding) and running from the police isn't my thing. His next Q: Is that the new V-Max? After he looked over the bike, I got the lecture about safety, death, speeding, bike swinging on a tow strap behind a wrecker, jail (95 over the limit is an instant night in jail), points, insurance, etc.
He let me go with a warning (actually, many warnings) because: a) I stopped. Many on fast bikes apparently weren't back then; b) I was polite, truthful and respectful of his duties; c) He was a rider himself and his "read" on me told him that I was a responsible rider outside of this indescretion.
I get nabbed doing 95 over the limit...
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