Posted 10 September 2008 - 12:05 PM
Dealing with Cops is a routine part of a war in So Cal. We typically have some crotchety old lady or pediestrians, etc. call the cops, who drop by within the first two hours or so. We're pretty well known in the Glendora police department, so we never have problems with the cops.
ON the flip side of things, we HAVE been asked to leave schools several times, but NONE of them were because the cops wanted us to leave. At Armageddon this last summer, a POOL maintenance man at the High School where we were playing was freaking out, and called the California Highway Patrol on us. Obviously an idiot, because a high school is not within the typical jurisdiction of highway patrol, and thus was a waste of time for them to visit. Regardless, the maintenance man REFUSED to speak with me, even when I approached him empty-handed, addressing him as sir, explaining that I was aware that he had called the police, but had no intention of running due to my lack of illegal activity. When I asked him if I could answer any questions he had he abruptly said "You can answer to the police. Don't you dare come near me with those damn things."
So yeah...he was uptight, and clearly hadn't had his daily two dozen doughnuts to put him in a "decent member of society and representative of the human race" state of mind. Oh well.
So when the cops arrived, who should step out of the patrol car but the officer who had come and visited us the LAST time we played at that location! He stepped out of the car with HIS hands up, laughing about the whole thing. He was awesome. All the same, he suggested (did NOT tell/demand) that we leave so the pool man could find his inner peace while working...on the other fucking end of the campus, almost a football field from where we were playing. So we moved to an alternate location. No biggie.
Since I'm the one who typically handles these situations at So Cal wars, I'll give you a rundown of how to deal with it. Dealing with the cops and/or school personnel can be touchy business. The moment you realize that you are being scrutinized rather than observed (whether that be by janitorial staff OR the police) you must instantly begin to treat your guns as though they are REAL, LIVE, and LOADED weapons.
First thing: DROP EVERYTHING. Don't move quickly; no sudden movements. Don't do it all slow like you're at gunpoint. Just calmly set everything down, and make DAMNED sure that everyone you're nerfing with does likewise. ALL guns on the ground, NONE in pockets, NONE in holsters.
Next is equally important: Only ONE person goes to talk to the officer/employee. I know it's fun to joke around with an officer once they realize they're nerf guns, but until that happens, ONE person and one person ONLY should approach the officer. They'll feel FAR more comfortable speaking to one person than a mob, and if one person can do the talking instead of everyone trying to explain it at once, things will go a lot smoother.
When speaking to whoever is questioning the legality of what you're doing, even if they have a name tag, you address them as "Sir" or "Ma'am". NO EXCEPTIONS. Treat them like they're important and with respect, and they're more likely to respect you and what you're doing, and in turn, leave you alone.
Let THEM ask questions first. Don't panic and try to explain everything immediately. They will probably start off with asking the obligatory "What are you guys doing?" A SIMPLE response is all that is necessary. Sound panicked, and they may decide they have reason to be on edge as well. All you need say is "We're playing with Nerf Toy Blasters." I find it's helpful to insert the word "Toy" in there, as it removes any uncertainty in what you're saying.
They may ask to see one, at which point you should point to someone behind you and ask them to bring something forward. Don't allow ANYONE to leave the Officer's sight. DON'T do something stupid by pointing to the kid standing next to his flat black longshot or crossbow. Pick something that's VERY nerfy-looking, like an SM 1500, or something else that's in (ideally) stock colors. Stock colors will make it look more like a toy, and help reinforce that what you're doing is harmless. Big Salvos are another great example of something that looks VERY toy-esque, as there's no military firearm shaped like one.
They may also ask to see some ammunition. DON'T just reach into your pocket. Again, most of these precautions I'm saying aren't going to be necessary, but some cops are more on edge than others. EVERYONE should STILL be a good distance away save yourself and the person who brought a gun over for the officer to see. I commonly ask the officer if he/she is okay with me reaching into my pocket, so that they are aware that I'll be going for a pocket, and they don't instinctively draw a weapon on me because it looks like I'm about to do the same. A simple "May I reach into my pocket?" will suffice.
The more you can do to keep the OFFICER in control of the situation, and make them FEEL like that's the case, the more friendly they'll be towards you, and the more comfortable they'll be with allowing you and your friends to continue playing. Once they've decided you're harmless (provided that you, in fact, are harmless...none of this advice will help you if you're dressed in Camo, firing all flat black guns, carrying radios, etc. Even after a "nerf gun" explanation, you're a hazard. And you're stupid.) they'll probably simply say "Be careful, and have fun", after which they'll probably leave. Don't get your round up and going until after they've left. Have everyone just mill around for a few minutes, allowing the officer to leave. It's a simple courtesy, allowing him/her to get clear of any errant fire.
If an officer comes to one of your events, don't panic. That's key, because they'll know you're scared, and they'll want to know why. It's probably just because you don't want to have to move/end your day early, but from their perspective, you could be hiding something. Be calm, and speak to them with an air of authority, but let THEM remain in control. Treat them with the respect they deserve (again, ASK before you do ANYTHING) and they will treat you, your friends, and your hobby with respect as well.
QUOTE(Ilůvatar @ 0000)
Of the theme that I have declared to you, I will now that ye make in harmony together a Great Music.