Each day, each month, each year, we are losing our sisters and brothers on the job while performing basic traffic enforcement. Below are some of the reasons I think we can decrease this number.
Important things I always try to remember on every traffic stop:
- Don’t be in a hurry to get up to the target vehicle. Time is on your side. The vehicles and the occupants (usually) aren’t going anywhere.
- KEEP MY GUN HAND FREE ON INITIAL CONTACT.
- Where are everyone’s hands?! If I can’t answer that question, I should be doing whatever is necessary to find out.
- Is it more practical (and safe) to make a passenger side approach and observe the occupants for a few seconds before making contact?
- Why are the driver and/or passengers trying to locate me thru all the bright lights?
READ MORE: A TALE OF TWO CITIES
This is why the phrase, “Routine Traffic Stop” turns my stomach.
If our stops are routine, then why in any given year are roughly 12% of our teammates in the U.S. killed in the process of making them?
IF YOU ARE SHOT AT
MOVE, breath, identify the threat and return fire, if possible, before the vehicle flees. Get behind cover.
IF TWO OFFICERS ARE PRESENT
Use the ‘Contact-and-Cover’ option. Both of you don’t need to make contact at the same time. This option also decreases the risk of a ‘Blue-on-Blue’ friendly fire incident.
Remember what you were taught at the outset of your law enforcement career: If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.
Many of my partners have seen me ask a driver to exit his vehicle instead of me walking up to the vehicle window. I am faithful about this option when:
- The vehicle has tinted windows and driver hasn’t rolled his window down
- There are multiple subjects in the car
- The car is slow to stop
- There is lots of movement in the car as it’s stopping
I ALWAYS explain to the driver why I asked him/her to exit the vehicle and come to me. Then, I tell them why they were stopped. I’ve never had a lawyer question why I have done this.
READ MORE: SUICIDE BY MOUSE
If this is an OWI (DUI) stop, it also allows me to watch their exit and their gate as they walk to me.
I suspect that all of us learned these skills, tactics and techniques in our basic academy. I am sharing them with you as a refresher. We all know from experience that it is easy to lose track of some of the fundamentals unless we review and rethink them from time-to-time.
Remember, at the bottom line, it’s all about saving ONE life.
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Thank you for taking the time to read this message and allowing us to share this officer safety message with you. Our editor can be contacted via email with questions or input: Email Editor