Preparing for the unpredictable
Other than responding to domestic fight calls, traffic stops are the most dangerous part of a cops job. This article is NOT about cops surviving a traffic stop.
It’s about YOU, John Q. Citizen!
I know what you’re thinking. Why is the Salty Sarge, the veteran cop, trying to teach me how to survive a traffic stop? Because one life lost on either side is unacceptable.
Most of this is common sense.
No-brainer stuff. I’m not talking about the career criminal bad-guy who doesn’t want to go back to jail. No, this article is meant for everyday folks who need to know what certain behaviors to absolutely avoid when pulled over by a cop.
And parents, please share this with your teen drivers!
1. When we light you up, pull over as soon as practical
Yes, we allow you a few seconds to get over your ego and denial that this is really happening. Please do not continue on for 3 miles trying to find a lit parking lot or a safe spot to pull over. There are always exceptions but as a rule, pull over immediately.
It makes us nervous when you don’t.
Also, this is not the time to be making frantic movements when at first seeing our lights and hearing the customary womp, womp! Please, these movements make us think you are hiding something or at worse, arming yourself.
I also highly recommend that you put the cell phone down during a traffic stop. There is nothing more irritating to a cop then when a driver is blathering away on their phone during a stop.
A phone can also look similar to a gun if the officers vision is compromised and your actions have already put him/her on high alert.
Before you start planning a protest march over that last statement remember we are talking about minimizing the risk here.
Oh, and we can see your best ninja moves trying to put your seat belt on while pulling over.
2. When we approach, relax and take a deep breath
***DO NOT, under any circumstance, get out of your car when pulled over on a traffic stop. Unless, of course, you have a warrant on file and plan on running from us.***
Put your hands where we can see them. Preferably on the steering wheel.
Remember, as police recruits in the academy, cops are drilled and shown endless videos of officers shot and killed on traffic stops. We don’t know you. And we have yet to see a video where a cop was killed by a drivers feet. (I’m sure its probably happened in Russia but lets stay on topic here)
If you have a gun (legally) in the vehicle, make sure you tell the cop this. And please do not reach or lunge for the gun. As Forrest Gump so eloquently pined, “that’s all I have to say about that”.
3. Follow our instructions during a traffic stop
Do not make furtive movements like reaching under your seat or digging through your center console during a traffic stop. If you really have your license under your seat, tell the cop exactly what you are doing. Preferably before you do it.
Also, this is not the time for witty sarcasm or rhetorical questions like asking if we have anything better to do. Remember, our goal here is to keep our contact short and to the point. This is not the time to antagonize a cop or belittle him or her with your charming sense of humor.
You can do that on Facebook.
4. Make it a positive experience
Getting pulled over by the cops is about as much fun as watching an episode of Real Housewives.
That topic will be covered in a future article (baby steps people).
What I am presenting here are common sense actions that cops want you to know. I’m not a “traffic guy” like some of my fellow brothers and sisters.
Being pulled over is not the end of the world or implies that you are a bad person. It’s just a job that has to be done.
Your best bet is to be cooperative and attentive. Also, it never hurts to be friendly and humble during the traffic stop.
Who knows, you might get off with just a warning.