Five things to do if pulled over without reasonable cause

About a month ago, I was driving down Ella with my friends. We were all laughing and talking, waiting for the light to turn. All of a sudden, a man in the car in front of us got out and started banging on my window. He was not in a cop car, nor did he show us a badge, yet when I rolled down my window, he claimed to be a cop. He proceeded to yell at us while asking me for identification, without telling us what we had done wrong. When he started to bang on my back door, I blurted out without thinking, that it was unlocked. He started searching the backseat of my car without a warrant.

In the heat of the moment, I did many things wrong. The situation did not feel right, but it never really occurred to me that I could be in danger because it was daytime and other cars were around. Looking back, I see all of the things I could have done differently.

Here are five steps I should have taken to ensure the safety of everyone in my car:

  • Keep windows rolled up most of the way, leaving a little less than an inch open. That should be enough to hear the person talking.
  • Pull into the nearest public parking lot, making sure there are lots of people around.
  • Ask to see the person’s identification and ask for their badge number.
  • Call 911. The police can say if the person is a real cop and send an officer if they are not.
  • Keep doors locked at all times. Searches of cars are only permitted if there is reasonable cause.

Finally, the man calmed down enough to give us a reason for why he was so angry. He claimed we threw an egg at his car while driving down Spring Cypress. The problem was that his claim did not match up with where we actually were since we just pulled out of the school parking lot minutes ago. When nobody confessed to throwing an egg at him, he gave back my driver’s license and left without saying another word.

The whole situation would have seemed more normal if the person pulling us over was in a cop car and showed us some form of identification. When the man started yelling and banging on my door, I knew this was not usual behavior for a police officer. I was so flustered and confused that I did not stop to think that my friends and I could have been in great danger.

Driving as a teen can be tricky and it is always better to be cautious about potentially dangerous situations. If something like this ever happens again, I will make sure to remain calm and remember the steps I need to take to ensure my safety.