Friday, October 5, 2007

That 'bear sticker' on the window signals, 'Hey, I'm a cop'


King County sheriff's Deputy Michael Behm asked the cop who nabbed him drinking and driving three years ago whether he'd seen the "bear sticker" on the back window of his truck, according to the Buckley police arrest report.

Related content

The bear sticker is one way cops try to get "professional courtesy" from other officers. Marcus Mann, who worked as a police officer for 23 years, explains other ways cops who are stopped try to use their job to influence other police officers.

- Some cops get free passes when stopped for DUI
- From the Case Files: Officers stopped for DUI

More in this special report

During an internal investigation of the DUI, Behm denied referring to the sticker and said he was not seeking special treatment.

Pointing to the little sticker -- a drawing of a striding bear -- could be considered a request from one cop to another for special treatment during a stop.

It's "a suggestion that law enforcement people should get special consideration," said Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor, a 27- year veteran who hates the stickers.

You'll see them on the back windows of private cars at police hangouts, a symbol for "Hey, I'm a cop." They show up, as well, in a few DUI reports when cops are nabbed. Cops in interviews and on chat lines question the value of them, note anyone can buy one and warn that they might attract unwanted attention from savvy criminals.

Pastor would love to ban them. Personally, he is so careful not to tempt favors at a traffic stop that he has two wallets, one containing his civilian ID, including his driver's license, and another with police ID.

He started doing that two decades ago when a trooper gave him a warning after seeing his police department business card, he said.

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