On October 27, driver Steven Hildreth Jr. was armed and wearing a hoodie when he was pulled over for a broken headlight in Tucson, Arizona.
The officers had to disarm Hildreth because of the close promixity of his Glock to his wallet. After checking his registration and dialoguing with Hildreth, the officers returned his Glock to him, complimented the way he had treated them, and sent him on his way. When Hildreth got home, he returned the compliment by taking to Facebook to point out how reasonable the stop went and how approaching officers with respect instead of divisive language and movements might be the key to more reasonable stops around the country.
Here is how Hildreth described the stop:
So, I’m driving to my office to turn in my weekly paperwork. A headlight is out. I see a Tucson squad vehicle turn around and follow me. I’m already preparing for the stop. The lights go on and I pull over. The officer asks me how I’m doing, and then asks if I have any weapons.
“Yes, sir. I’m a concealed carry permit holder and my weapon is located on my right hip. My wallet is in my back-right pocket.”
The officer explains for his safety and mine, he needs to disarm me for the stop. I understand, and I unlock the vehicle. I explain that I’m running a 7TS ALS holster but from the angle, the second officer can’t unholster it. Lead officer asks me to step out, and I do so slowly. Officer relieves me of my Glock and compliments the X300U… [flashlight I put] on it. He also sees my military ID and I tell him I’m with the National Guard.
Lead officer points out my registration card is out of date but he knows my registration is up to date. He goes back to run my license. I know he’s got me on at least two infractions. I’m thinking of how to pay them.
Officers return with my Glock in an evidence back, locked and cleared. “Because you were cool with us and didn’t give us grief, I’m just going to leave it at a verbal warning. Get that headlight fixed as soon as possible.”
Hildreth stressed the importance of respect—that the respect he showed was the respect he received.
I’m a black man wearing a hoodie and strapped. According to certain social movements, I shouldn’t be alive right now because the police are allegedly out to kill minorities. Maybe… just maybe… that notion is bunk.
Maybe if you treat police officers with respect, they will do the same to you.
Police officers are people, too. By far and large, most are good people and they’re not out to get you. I’d like to thank those two officers and TPD in general for another professional contact.
We talk so much about the bad apples who shouldn’t be wearing a badge. I’d like to spread the word about an example of men who earned their badges and exemplify what that badge stands for.
Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at email@example.com.