Saturday, January 17, 2015

Statement Analysis: Traffic Stops Part One, Titles

In Statement Analysis, the Social Introduction, in context, can give insight into the quality of a relationship.

In life, traffic stops can be dangerous for all parties, especially law enforcement officials.  Statement Analysis training can, and should be used, by officers assigned to traffic.

First, let's look at Social Introductions in Statement Analysis, and then on to the use of Titles of law enforcement officials, in traffic stops.

Principle:  Social Introductions give us insight into the quality of a relationship.

"My husband, Bob" is a complete social introduction.

It has the three components we look for:

1.  The pronoun "my."

"My husband, Bob"

We are, whether we admit it or not, possessive creatures.  We take ownership of what is ours, and we refuse ownership of what is not outs.

"my guilt" said, OJ Simpson and Patsy Ramsey.

In fact, the word "my" often pre-dates speech in children.

2.  Title

"My husband, Bob" uses the title, "husband" which is component number two. This signals, at this point in the statement, a good relationship.

"My boss, Mary" 

"My supervisor, Mr. Smith"

"My friend, Sally"

3.  The name.

This is the third component which suggests, in analysis, that the relationship is positive AT the time of the statement (where, in the statement, it exists.)

"My husband", though incomplete, still shows ownership with the possessive pronoun, "my."  In context, if the subject does not want to reveal the name of her husband, (in a public statement, perhaps), it is not to be concluded as an incomplete social introduction.

Context is key, and we apply principle within context.  In some cases, a parent may not want to give her child's name.

Context is key.

Also, I emphasize "at this time of the statement" not meaning, when written, but literally at the time of the statement, within the statement, itself.

For example, in a robbery statement, the subject wrote out this statement, to police:

"I got up.  Barbara got up.  She made the bed and I went out to get some coffee...."

But what of traffic stops by police?

I expect to hear the title given:  "Officer", "Deputy", "Chief", or even a reasonable substitute of "Sir"
This is the "Expected" in analysis.  It is also something that traffic cops know, instinctively.

Titles Used or Missing  in Traffic Stop 

 "Officer" is a signal of respect.  It may come due to genuine respect, habit, or feigned respect, as the official is carrying a deadly weapon, and has within his authority, the ability to take away one's freedom.  The sincerity of the subject is not important as the official does not need to read the heart's intent.  The absence, however, of the title of respect, used in the discourse (not simply in one answer) should be considered a signal to the official that the subject needs careful attention.

Here is why:

Guilty people often want to "make friends" and "be seen as cooperative" just as much as innocent parties.  Both may hold the officer in contempt, yet both wish to conceal the contempt.  If, during the traffic stop, no title is used, it is, in Statement Analysis, an "incomplete social introduction" indicating a "bad relationship."

The expected is, "Officer" in discourse.  There is no expectation of using the officer's name, but the title as a signal of respect. When it is absent, there may be a form of defiance, which, in all situations, is not wise.

Even when objecting to an officer's statement, respectful responses are the "expected" in analysis.

The lack of use of a title, far from what may appear on the surface, puts the officer on alert; an alert that comes in a situation (traffic stop) in which the officer is in a vulnerable (and often dangerous) situation when approaching a car in which he cannot see all occupants' hands.  The lack of use of a title, in a tense situation, makes a marked increase in tension.

Q.  What gives a subject the nerve to show deliberate disrespect to an armed law enforcement official with the power to take away liberty?


a.  The subject may be armed
b.  The subject may have mental illness
c.  The subject may not be afraid of facing off against an armed official.
d.  The subject intends to resist arrest.  How will he accomplish this?

Think of how this should, naturally, put an officer on higher alert, and then think how this will impact language (and action).

I analyzed the statement of the officer in the Ferguson shooting.  He was truthful.

Former Police officer, Darren Wilson's statement analyzed can be found HERE and is in two parts.

What did the shooting victim's body language, and then, verbal language, say about his intentions?
What did it say about the need for higher alert?

In the Expected versus the Unexpected, we place ourself in the shoes of the subject and ask, in innocence, what might I say in this position?    What do we expect the shooting victim to say?

We then analyze.

Then, we presuppose the very opposite.  We presuppose that he is deceptive and re-do our analysis.

We get a big picture.

Think now, of the shooting victim.  In what manner did he approach the officer, and what did his words reveal?

Traffic stops are dangerous and the words the driver uses may be key and after being trained in Statement Analysis, officers assigned traffic duty, or those who wish to be assigned, should not only study Statement Analysis, but familiarize themselves with samples specifically about traffic stops and short, "on the fly" analysis.

It could save their lives.


Anonymous said...

I am a middle aged white woman. I keep my speed within 5 mph of the speed limit and I do not break the law beyond that 5mph spped infraction. However, I do not respect officers just because they have a badge. The officers in our county are so corrupt they are under investigation by the state for abuse of power among other things. I do actually have contempt for several of the officers on our community. They are a$@holes on and off the job: abusive to their wives and children, rude in public, and act as if the badge entitles them to something. I could rant awhile about this as the things I have observed stir anger in me. However, I have been pulled over twice and I was very polite and respectful and I did use Sir or Ma'am. I was mindful of the fact that walking up to the door of a vehicle has to be an adrenaline inducing event for them, even with something as minor as my inoperable brake light. They have no way of predicting my behavior until we interact and you are right, the verbal interactions/statement analysis have to guide them. It's funny how we operate under an almost subconscious awareness of SA even before knowing what it is.

Statement Analysis Blog said...


It takes one jerk, on a traffic stop, to taint an entire department.

This is because of the inherent risk to the driver.

The driver, unarmed, is under the utter authority of the armed police officer. If the officer is antagonistic, due to the driver's increase in fear hormones, the imprint on the brain is not only powerful, but lasting.

Most officers do not seek to exploit this disadvantage, even emotionally. The few that do fit the bill of "the smaller the department; the larger the badge" phrase. Thankfully, this is rare, but when it exists, it feels larger than it is.

Mutual respect will quickly deescalate frustrating situations.

There is something else to consider:

In revenue strapped rural areas, not every traffic cop enjoys ticketing drivers who are not dangerously speeding. They also feel frustration.

We have lost civility in our society as manners have gone down the wayside. I hope we return to a time when respect for police was high, and misconduct by police was low. The few rotten apples impact us all.

Anonymous, your understanding of the adrenaline and fear when an officer walks up to a vehicle is a good, empathetic position.


Buckley said...

I usually am very respect go but when I was younger I had a bad experience. I was walking around downtown Nashville in an area not frequented much in the day. I was just killing time before an appointment. An elderly police officer stopped and asked me for my ID. I asked why. He got angry and said essentially because he was a cop and he asked for it. It was his area. I was readying my arguments about Constituional rights and all but he seemed like he might either hurt me or bust a vein is his own head so I begrudgingly complied and said nothing else to him.

GetThem said...

I just to have to say we are very blessed to have such an amazing police department. They are so smart and for such a small town, they have handled some really scary situations. They are active in the community, the schools, the senior center, local events and they keep us updated on everything through social media or the schools. I love them all and pray for them daily. I think they know SA because we recently had to call them for something and they were so amazing at knowing what questions to ask to solve the problem. It was a relief they knew what to do and were such good men on top of being professionals in a really tough field that doesn't pay them enough.

Anon 10:18 said...

"the smaller the department; the larger the badge"

THIS is what I believe we have here. I hear what you are saying about being in a rural area and being strapped for cash, but I don't think that's the case here. I'll give you some examples:

In 2008, a kid fell from an overpass and broke his back and shattered his foot. The police tasered him NINETEEN TIMES! because he wasn't compliant. HE COULDN"T MOVE!!

3 years ago, the police pulled over a 16 year old girl and held her for 90 minutes on "suspicion of drunk driving." They put her through the whole gamut of sobriety tests, etc.. and refused to let her call her parents. She hadn't been drinking. They knew she hadn't been drinking. They claimed in a deposition that they decided to use it as a training exercise for a new deputy. You don't put a 16 year old through that and for training. The deposition occurred when her parents sued the department.

I could keep going for hours with stuff that happens here and has for years. Buff Lamb either murdered that girl or covered it up for someone. If you check google, I'm sure you can find stories about Buff beating kids with his flashlight. My son works in a public area where the police like to congregate and have coffee. They like to inflate their bravado with one another and outdo each other with stories of how they pulled someone over that they didn't like to teach them a lesson, etc... It's really disturbing.

The flipside of it is, we are just 3 hours south of Ferguson and I have compassion and respect for those officers. I can't imagine being a white officer in a predominantly black lower income community where your very presence is seen as a threat. Christian County has almost zero diversity and while we have crime, the billy bad ass mentality of our officers is uncalled for.

John Mc Gowan said...


'I didn't think I was going to survive': Australian golfer Robert Allenby tells of terrifying ordeal after he is 'drugged', kidnapped from bar, robbed and dumped in a park... before being rescued by a homeless woman and a retired soldier


'I didn't think I was going to survive this one,' Allenby told AAP.

Has this happened before ? What is he comparing it to ?

'I was separated from my friend in the bar after we had paid the tab at 10:48pm and he went to the bathroom and next thing you know I'm being dumped in a park miles away.

and next thing you know

Skip in time. This maybe due to the report of him being "Drugged" and his memory loss ?

and next thing you know

Here he uses the second person "You" to describe what happened. This is not universal to us all and is distancing language. it maybe also that he wants to distance himself from the event. Given this doesn't happen to everyone, i would expect him to take ownership with the first person singular "I"

'I only know this part because a homeless woman found me and told me she saw a few guys pull up and throw me out of the car. That is where I got the scrapes above my eye from the sidewalk.'

Read more:

Anonymous said...

Regarding, omitting the title Officer. I don't know if I agree with this. I think it relies too much on context to be useful. I surely wouldn't call an officer by his/her name, but to assume an intention of contempt and nerve (How do you know this?) by not saying "officer" is far reaching. What if you're talking to an officer but not detained at a traffic stop? Like asking for directions on the street in NYC or Boston? I did it recently with only a, "Hi, excuse me..." I don't believe it's "expected" all the time. Unlike a 911 call, I think there are too many variables of context.

Also, I read your analysis of Darren Wilson. It all seems right, but somehow I believe you, or SA principles, or both, missed the forest amongst the trees. There's something seriously off with him. The fact that he could get by you, scares me.

John Mc Gowan said...

Another article related to my OT.


His caddie, Mick Middlemo, told the website “I don’t think there’s any doubt they slipped something in his drink. None of us were really that drunk. He vaguely remembers being with these three people.”

John Mc Gowan said...

From another article.


"You think ... that happens in the movie, not real life," Allenby told The Associated Press by phone Sunday. "I'm just happy to be alive."

"I did ask to get a blood test, but they said it was probably out of your system," he said.

Allenby said surveillance cameras showed his friend Anthony Puntoriero talking to someone in the bar.

"I think that was a decoy, a distraction," Allenby said. "I went to the bathroom, came out of the bathroom and was told that Anthony had left and was downstairs waiting for me. I go downstairs and then, bang! They knock me out and take me six or seven miles away."

He said the tape showed one man put a hand on Allenby's shoulder.

"I seriously don't even remember meeting these people," he said. "That's what is weird. All I know is that I was walking very quietly with them and normal. It didn't make any sense at all."

"I'm still shaking, still scared," he said. "It's just so surreal, just amazing. How does that happen to me? I went from one area where I could have died to another area where I got dumped and homeless people are trying to mug me even more. Sometimes we're all naive. We only think this happens in the movies."

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter, since you are analysing traffic stops I was wondering if you or anyone else here could give some analysis on Orianna Ferrell, the mother of 5 who led the police on a 100mph chase. thanks KM