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Thread: "Do you know why we're here?" (question posed by LEO)

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    Campaign Veteran gogodawgs's Avatar
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    "Do you know why we're here?" (question posed by LEO)

    LEO asks; "Do you know why we're here?"

    In several recent threads, both here in Washington and in other states, I have noticed encounters with LEO asking this question. In all of the threads the OCer has responded.

    "Yes"

    I think a fundamental re-thinking of this question needs to be taken by those who have answered 'yes' to the officer. Why would you answer yes?

    If I was asked this question I would respond, "No, officer, why are you here?"

    The reason being, is that I am doing nothing illegal and thus there is absolutely no reason to assume the police are 'here' for any reason. When an OCer answers to the affirmative they are playing into the officer's notion that something bad or illegal is going on and thus the presence of the police is needed to deal with the issue. Regardless of how the LEO came about the OCer (MWAG call or circumstance) the only answer that is appropriate is "No, officer, why are you here?" or some variation thereof. It thereby reiterates that nothing illegal is taking place and puts the officer on notice that he must articulate a reason his presence is needed.

    Of course after you establish this as the basis for your interaction the LEO will move his/her technique to obtaining your identity, in which you should immediately answer with a question.

    "Am I being detained?"
    "Am I free to go?"
    "Am I being arrested?"
    "Why am I being arrested?"

    And unless the answer to the question places the OCer under arrest or detainment you must be free to go and the OCer should immediately terminate the voluntary encounter.
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    Campaign Veteran slapmonkay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gogodawgs View Post
    LEO asks; "Do you know why we're here?"

    In several recent threads, both here in Washington and in other states, I have noticed encounters with LEO asking this question. In all of the threads the OCer has responded.

    "Yes"

    I think a fundamental re-thinking of this question needs to be taken by those who have answered 'yes' to the officer. Why would you answer yes?

    If I was asked this question I would respond, "No, officer, why are you here?"

    The reason being, is that I am doing nothing illegal and thus there is absolutely no reason to assume the police are 'here' for any reason. When an OCer answers to the affirmative they are playing into the officer's notion that something bad or illegal is going on and thus the presence of the police is needed to deal with the issue. Regardless of how the LEO came about the OCer (MWAG call or circumstance) the only answer that is appropriate is "No, officer, why are you here?" or some variation thereof. It thereby reiterates that nothing illegal is taking place and puts the officer on notice that he must articulate a reason his presence is needed.

    Of course after you establish this as the basis for your interaction the LEO will move his/her technique to obtaining your identity, in which you should immediately answer with a question.

    "Am I being detained?"
    "Am I free to go?"
    "Am I being arrested?"
    "Why am I being arrested?"

    And unless the answer to the question places the OCer under arrest or detainment you must be free to go and the OCer should immediately terminate the voluntary encounter.
    I agree with everything you said. +1
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    Regular Member hermannr's Avatar
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    Why no officer, I do not know why you are here, is there a problem?

    If, then, they say someone called that there was a man with a gun, and that man appear to be you..Do you have your ID handy? answer...oh really officer, and was the person from Wal-Mart Management? No-one from Wal-Mart came and talked to me.

    You do know that Wal-Mart corporate policy is whatever state law is, and the law in the State of WA says my OC is perfectly legal, CPL or not, ID or not. You do realize Wal-Mart is private property and you have no reason to be here unless your presence was requested to help by the management of the store/or Wal-Mart corporate in some crimial matter? Hope you have a good day gentileman.

    Truth of the matter is, if a customer is concerned about something happening on private property (Wal-Mart in this case) the call for police assistance MUST come from Wal-Mart.
    Last edited by hermannr; 12-28-2011 at 07:15 PM.

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hermannr View Post
    --snip--
    Truth of the matter is, if a customer is concerned about something happening on private property (Wal-Mart in this case) the call for police assistance MUST come from Wal-Mart.
    Not so.

    Anyone can report a crime in progress or suspicious activity. How the police chose to respond is another matter.

    Insofar as asking you to leave or secure your gun elsewhere, I would agree - that is up to Wal-Mart.
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    Well, see officer, it starts with your mommy and daddy loving each other very much...

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    Regular Member hermannr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeshot View Post
    Not so.

    Anyone can report a crime in progress or suspicious activity. How the police chose to respond is another matter.

    Insofar as asking you to leave or secure your gun elsewhere, I would agree - that is up to Wal-Mart.
    If I am OC on my own private property, and my neighbor calls the police because of my OC (this is valid almost everywhere in the US), the police do not even have the right to enter my property to talk to me unless I invite them too....as I am doing absolutely nothing illegal.

    BTW: I do business on this property also, and do have occational customer visits. If I invite you to come onto the property and you are OCing...and let's say my neighbor calls...the police still do not even have the right to come on my property (in an official capacity) even though I do have a business license and I do business on this property. (This doesn't actually happen because all my neighbors are 2A friendly, and the closest is 1/4 mile away, but lets just say it did...for argument)

    So, lets translate that to Wal-Mart. Ever had a fender bender in a Wal-Mart parking lot? Well, the police around here will not even check drivers license, insurance or write a report (unless there is an injury) on a parking lot accident here. Why? It's private property. You do not need a license or insurance to drive on private property.

    Wal-Mart is private property, under control of Wal-Mart management. Therefore, if Wal-Mart has a criminal complaint (say shoplifting), the police will respond...not a criminal complaint they won't...For purposes of this exercise, OC and CC are ok on private property, no permit necessary, for the owner or with the owners permission...Wal-Mart's stated corporate policy is to follow state law...The police have no reason to even come to investigate that customer complaint of OC at Wal-Mart. The proper method is for the customer to notify Wal-Mart, and Wal-Mart to notify the local police if they deem it necessary. Legal activity on private property is none of the local police's business...legal activity on private property...they have no reason to be there in an official capacity. Criminal activity, yes, no crime, nope....

    BTW: If you missed the latest of these, and I am assuming the one that started this thread...the guy that was questioned by officer friendly and a couple of his buddies in a Wal-Mart, the officers had come because of a call from a customer who had already been told by a Wal-Mart employee that the OC was legal and welcome, but the customer called 911 anyway. The breakdown in the system here was the 911 operator...the caller should have been told to contact Wal-Mart management, then if/when the caller would have said he did but they were doing nothing about it, the 911 operator should have said, well then Wal-Mart must not think it is a problem for the police... and hung up.... or charged the person for misusing the 911 system.

    I will say, in my county, if you call about a MWAG and you tell the 911 operator that the person is not doing anything but just has a gun in a holster...the 911 operator will say, that is 100% legal and hang up.
    Last edited by hermannr; 12-28-2011 at 08:48 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hermannr View Post

    Truth of the matter is, if a customer is concerned about something happening on private property (Wal-Mart in this case) the call for police assistance MUST come from Wal-Mart.
    Where did you get this from? Anybody can call 911, anywhere at any time. Are you telling us that if you're in a store and witness a crime, you couldn't call the cops, and would go looking for a store employee hoping they would do something?

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    Regular Member bmg50cal's Avatar
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    "Do you know why we are here?"

    Alternatively one could say, "I will not answer any questions without my attorney."

    While waiting for them to leave, call and order take out pizza to be delivered at that very spot. While on the call if they don't leave right away ask them what they want on the pizza. Make sure to keep a pizza place number on speed dial.


    Here something more serious...

    WA ACLU - YOU AND THE POLICE
    http://www.aclu-wa.org/library_files...e%20Police.pdf

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    Regular Member Badger Johnson's Avatar
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    Good thread and thoughts and it's in line with my (sometimes dumb) idea that you should practice some 'verbal judo' (the gentle way) and deflect and answer questions with questions so as not to be caught up in an attempt to drag you into self-incrimination.

    If a LEO stops you for a traffic offense and says 'Do you know why I stopped you' the tendency is to admit to several offenses and recite a litany of them (d'oh). BUT what you should say is 'No officer why did you stop me'.

    You don't admit to anything, you are still polite and it's a Q with a Q response.

    The other comment is, BEWARE of 'releasing yourself' from a 'stop' by thinking that if you say 'why am I being detained' and the LEO says (hopefully) 'You're not...I...(blah, blah)...' you should never 'release yourself' and/or start to walk away. PERHAPS, backing away slowly hands in view, saying "ok, I'm going to head on out..".

    But I'm just concerned that people make darn SURE they are free to go with a 'yes, you're free to go, have a good day' assent. (IANAL) You have to play those by ear and be really careful, 'guns' being involved and so forth.


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    Regular Member hermannr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dadada View Post
    Where did you get this from? Anybody can call 911, anywhere at any time. Are you telling us that if you're in a store and witness a crime, you couldn't call the cops, and would go looking for a store employee hoping they would do something?
    You can call 911 all you want, about Criminal activity you observe...the police have no requirement to respond...and should not respond to a call about LEGAL (that soem may think is criminal) activity on PRIVATE property. OC or CC on private property does not require any license or ID.

    The thread I believe generated this, the person calling 911 had already been told by a Wal-Mart employee that the activity was LEGAL. IMHO the person that made the call should have been charged with misuse of the 911 system.
    Last edited by hermannr; 12-28-2011 at 09:15 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hermannr View Post
    You can call 911 all you want, about Criminal activity you observe...the police have no requirement to respond...and should not respond to a call about LEGAL (that soem may think is criminal) activity on PRIVATE property. OC or CC on private property does not require any license or ID.

    The thread I believe generated this, the person calling 911 had already been told by a Wal-Mart employee that the activity was LEGAL. IMHO the person that made the call should have been charged with misuse of the 911 system.
    But that has nothing to do with what I was questioning you on. Here's the quote that you left out.
    "Truth of the matter is, if a customer is concerned about something happening on private property (Wal-Mart in this case) the call for police assistance MUST come from Wal-Mart."

    In this, you didn't say anything about WHETHER the cops should respond. You said the CALL MUST come from Walmart. That's what I was questioning. Also, I would NEVER take legal advise from a walmart employee. They are just as likely to tell you that it's illegal to carry.
    Last edited by dadada; 12-28-2011 at 09:49 PM.

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    Regular Member Dave_pro2a's Avatar
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    Thread rating: Excellent!

    Ideas expressed in thread: Excellent!

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    Regular Member FMCDH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hermannr View Post
    You can call 911 all you want, about Criminal activity you observe...the police have no requirement to respond...and should not respond to a call about LEGAL (that soem may think is criminal) activity on PRIVATE property. OC or CC on private property does not require any license or ID.

    The thread I believe generated this, the person calling 911 had already been told by a Wal-Mart employee that the activity was LEGAL. IMHO the person that made the call should have been charged with misuse of the 911 system.
    I'm afraid you are incorrect, you are interpreting the law too broadly on CC without a permit. There are exceptions to where you need a CPL but they are limited generally to; IN your place of business or IN your place of abode, with a few other exceptions. Nowhere do the RCWs allow you to CC without a permit on all private property.

    You may wish to review the relevant RCWs
    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9.41.050
    (Exceptions)
    http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=9.41.060


    As for the proper screening of 911 calls, it has long been understood by most that the police in this state are under no obligation to respond to EVERY 911 call, and that normally efforts are made by the dispatcher to determine actual emergency from concerned citizen calls. Officers are then dispatched according to resources available. It comes down to a matter of education for all the parties of the chain of events, from the caller to the carrier.

    My problem with this system is that the education of the public seems to be placed by and large on the shoulders of the carrier, when it SHOULD be handled at the higher level of the enforcement chain.

    Still, the idea that the OP brings up holds true, that unless we make sure the officers that are responding to these calls GET the point that they need to be contacting the caller and educating them, then following up up their chain, and not bothering the carrier, we should be using wording to make them think about their assumptions and not just supporting the same tired chain of unnecessary contacts by agreeing with them that "Yes, I know why your here."
    Last edited by FMCDH; 12-28-2011 at 10:32 PM.

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    Regular Member Badger Johnson's Avatar
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    Also, even though the LAW says you can OC on private property and LEOs can't (LEGALLY) set foot on your property, there are a WHOLE lot of ways that they can and do just that. (neighbor, for example, embellishes and claims you brandished at him, pointed gun at him, blah, blah).

    If you get confrontational if one does, then you can be arrested for 'resisting' or 'failing to obey lawful order' or 'contempt of cop'. So be aware that what the LAW says is not what can happen in real life. Exigent circumstances can cover a lot of 'fudging' and 'gray areas'.

    ----
    Edit to add: I think when you OC even on your own property you STILL run your recorder. If neighbor comes up and tries to start problems you have some back up evidence you were law abiding.
    Last edited by Badger Johnson; 12-28-2011 at 10:25 PM.
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    Reply......'Do you know why I'm here?'

    Agreed, mostly. The less I talk to the police, the better. The less I say to the police, the better. I've never heard of anyone talking their way out of being charged.

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    "I didn't call you, so no I don't. I hope you find whoever called, though."

    /conversation

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    Regular Member Metalhead47's Avatar
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    So the old "Am I being detained?/Am I free to go?/Good day, officer." bit has been pretty well established.... but what do y'all suggest of the OCer is some place static with no immediate plans to go anywhere before constabulary showed up? Having dinner at a restaurant, waiting in line at a store, etc?

    Might look kinda goofy if one asks about being free to go then does not actually do so when released... and just sitting there attempting to ignore the coppiceman only invites more verbal judo from his end to try to continue the "voluntary" conversation...
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    Regular Member Hardbuck90's Avatar
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    If in a restaurant eating dinner as you suggest I would think that the officer would ask you to come outside as to avoid a scene, at this point is when you would ask if you are being detained and subsequently stay put and skip the "Am I free to go" line altogether, or something to that effect.

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    Regular Member Metalhead47's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hardbuck90 View Post
    If in a restaurant eating dinner as you suggest I would think that the officer would ask you to come outside as to avoid a scene, at this point is when you would ask if you are being detained and subsequently stay put and skip the "Am I free to go" line altogether, or something to that effect.
    Still... how does one "dismiss" a LEO who has a lawful right to be there as well (at least up until the manager asks him to leave, assuming said manager has balls to do so... then there's a can o worms about trespassing a cop... )
    It is very wise to not take a watermelon lightly.

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    Regular Member Hardbuck90's Avatar
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    He "should" dismiss himself if he has stated that you aren't being detained or arrested. If he says that you aren't being detained then just stands there I think that would awkward on his end

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    Moderator / Administrator Grapeshot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hermannr View Post
    If I am OC on my own private property, and my neighbor calls the police because of my OC (this is valid almost everywhere in the US), the police do not even have the right to enter my property to talk to me unless I invite them too....as I am doing absolutely nothing illegal.

    BTW: I do business on this property also, and do have occational customer visits. If I invite you to come onto the property and you are OCing...and let's say my neighbor calls...the police still do not even have the right to come on my property (in an official capacity) even though I do have a business license and I do business on this property. (This doesn't actually happen because all my neighbors are 2A friendly, and the closest is 1/4 mile away, but lets just say it did...for argument)

    So, lets translate that to Wal-Mart. Ever had a fender bender in a Wal-Mart parking lot? Well, the police around here will not even check drivers license, insurance or write a report (unless there is an injury) on a parking lot accident here. Why? It's private property. You do not need a license or insurance to drive on private property.

    Wal-Mart is private property, under control of Wal-Mart management. Therefore, if Wal-Mart has a criminal complaint (say shoplifting), the police will respond...not a criminal complaint they won't...For purposes of this exercise, OC and CC are ok on private property, no permit necessary, for the owner or with the owners permission...Wal-Mart's stated corporate policy is to follow state law...The police have no reason to even come to investigate that customer complaint of OC at Wal-Mart. The proper method is for the customer to notify Wal-Mart, and Wal-Mart to notify the local police if they deem it necessary. Legal activity on private property is none of the local police's business...legal activity on private property...they have no reason to be there in an official capacity. Criminal activity, yes, no crime, nope....

    BTW: If you missed the latest of these, and I am assuming the one that started this thread...the guy that was questioned by officer friendly and a couple of his buddies in a Wal-Mart, the officers had come because of a call from a customer who had already been told by a Wal-Mart employee that the OC was legal and welcome, but the customer called 911 anyway. The breakdown in the system here was the 911 operator...the caller should have been told to contact Wal-Mart management, then if/when the caller would have said he did but they were doing nothing about it, the 911 operator should have said, well then Wal-Mart must not think it is a problem for the police... and hung up.... or charged the person for misusing the 911 system.

    I will say, in my county, if you call about a MWAG and you tell the 911 operator that the person is not doing anything but just has a gun in a holster...the 911 operator will say, that is 100% legal and hang up.
    I fully understand that. I repeat: Anyone can report a crime in progress or suspicious activity. How the police chose to respond is another matter.

    BTW - Wal-Mart's position of following state law is not a contract - it is a policy, which is subject to immediate change, which by the way would still be following state law.
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    Regular Member ghosthunter's Avatar
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    I gotta believe that most MWAG calls will result in a officer contact or a least a drive by. Because lets say they do not come and a guy starts shooting. Looks bad for them. I think some of it is driven by liabilty, he came ,he saw, he made contact no problem. Not that I like it. Just saying, when KOMO asks the cheif "why didnt you respond when you got the first call?"

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    Regular Member Hardbuck90's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grapeshot View Post
    I fully understand that. I repeat: Anyone can report a crime in progress or suspicious activity. How the police chose to respond is another matter.
    What we all need to remember is that there are many variables at play, don't instantly assume the police are there to harass you. It can start with some little old lady calling 911 and saying there is a MWAG at Wal-Mart and maybe an ill-informed operator dispatching or maybe the little old lady hangs up and she said it with a scared tone of voice, So then there is no more information, simply a MWAG call rather than a man with a gun in a holster. So the police investigate, this is when you should meet the police with respect and handle accordingly
    Last edited by Hardbuck90; 12-29-2011 at 02:43 AM.

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    I prefer:

    "Am I being detained?"

    "No."

    "Thank you officer, you may go."

    Why should I retreat from them?

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    Regular Member bmg50cal's Avatar
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    Play this when questioned...
    Chappelle 'I plead the Fif' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CzocBkrWpA


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