A Georgia police officer who refused to let a driver get their cigarettes during a traffic stop may have prevented a serious altercation. Now, the department is sharing the story online as a way to explain to citizens why officers have such strict rules when they pull people over.
According to an April 17 Facebook post from the Kennesaw, Georgia, Police Department, an officer pulled the suspect over for unknown reasons and had them exit their vehicle. Once the driver was outside the car, they asked the officer multiple times if they could grab their cigarettes from the car and have a smoke. The officer said no.
He then searched the suspect's car and found one pack of Newports, but there were no cigarettes inside.
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Instead, the pack was modified to emit electric blue flashes similar to a stun gun when a button on the side of the pack was pushed.
"You would be surprised at the type of weapons that have been made to look like 'normal items,'" says the department's social media post.
The entry, which urges readers to "stay safe," has more than 433,000 views, 18,000 shares and 6,000 reactions as of the afternoon of April 17. (Note: Before you visit their Facebook page to see the video, turn the volume down on your speakers because it auto plays and it's very loud!)
"So, forgive us when we seem to act 'too rigid' and 'mean' when we say no to your request to 'smoke' or 'make a phone call' with your phone, etc," continues the post. "We're just trying to make it home at the end of our shifts like everyone else out here."
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Disguised stun guns are easy to find and can be purchased online on sites such as The Home Security Superstore for less than $20. Fake cell phones, flashlights and cosmetics are common shells for the weapons.
Snopes reported as early as 2002 that cell phones and other devices can be converted into guns and other dangerous devices. Though they were not known at the time to be mass-produced, officials said that those weapons looked identical to the real thing, so that there was no way to know from a distance if any of those items were as they appeared.
"This criminal invention represents a potentially serious threat to law enforcement and the public," U.S. Customs Service Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said at the time, according to Snopes. "We received word about these guns last month. We have since alerted our field personnel to be on the lookout for 'cell phone guns' at U.S. ports of entry."