An officer and suspect interaction is fraught with danger especially if the police anticipate DANGER. The interaction may trigger an evolutionary based defense reaction that may mean that our analytical reflective thinking fades out and we focus only on immediate survival. You may interpret any cues as potentially dangerous and that your life could be in danger. At that point the information is not processed rationally; since, it reaches the amygdala 22 milliseconds faster than to the cortex where thinking would take place. You react instead of act!
Adapted from: Ropeik, D. (2011). How Risky Is It, Really? Why our fears don’t always match the facts. New York: McGraw Hill
We all have experienced this automatic response. Remember when you were pissed off and angry at a close family member or friend? In the heat of the argument (or was it the battle for survival?), you said something that was cruel and painful–a real zinger. As the words left your mouth, you realized that you should not have said what you said. You wished you could reel the words back. Immediately you know that this would be very difficult to repair. At that moment, you reacted in self-defense from the amygdala before the cortex was aware.
Similarly, an officer and you may react automatically without thinking when they perceive personal danger. How you behave and move could automatically signal DANGER or SAFETY to the officer . To deescalate the situation when stopped by the police, behave in a way that signals to the officers that you are NOT a danger to them.
I highly recommend the short YouTube video by country singer, Coffey Anderson, Stop the Violence Safety Video for when you get pulled over by the Police. They share, what to do actually when you get pulled over by the police? It offers strategies to help diffuse tension at traffic stop, it gives solid steps into ways of staying safe, and getting home. SHARE this. It’s a must for all to see. If you have the opportunity, role-play the situation with your friends so that it becomes your new automatic response.
The video is on YouYube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnoLAtu0Wjk