POLICE Magazine

JUL 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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32 POLICE JULY 2018 E ven though most of you know there is no such thing as a routine vehicle stop, that mindset still persists among some officers and it needs to be eliminated from our thoughts. All vehicle stops are inherently risky, and thus should be distinguished into just two catego- ries: unknown risk and known risk. No vehicle stop should be considered as low-risk, as it is never possible to gauge beforehand the level of danger involved. Unknown risk vehicle stops can quickly evolve into known risk if a driver or passenger attacks you. UNKNOWN RISK STOPS It is the unknown vehicle stop where officers are most likely to assume compliance and treat it as routine. Don't forget the basics when it comes to vehicle stops and make safety a habit. e following are some basics of unknown risk vehicle stops that we must make habitual. Making the Stop—When initiating a traffic stop, you should have knowledge of the terrain and take care when choosing the best location for the stop. Where to make the stop is one of the things that you can control in most situa- tions. For example, you should be cognizant of such things as traffic congestion, hills, curves, fog, road conditions (shoulders, bridges, con- struction, etc.), the neighborhood, lighting, and available cover away from your squad car. You should be familiar with your emergency equipment and your department's policy for vehicle stops. It is impor- tant to understand how to use lighting properly, including overhead lights and spotlights. Prior to making a vehicle stop, it is crucial to have as much information as possible, which can easily be obtained by either the squad computer or dispatch. As a rule of thumb, your squad car should be positioned 10 to 15 feet behind the stopped vehicle and offset by about 3 feet to the left. is gives you a safety zone in which to walk and stand while approaching the vehicle. However, circum- stances dictate the tactics employed, so they may vary de- pending on the individual situation. Approaching the Vehicle—You should check for ap- proaching vehicles as a safety precaution before exiting your squad car. Keep your eyes on the vehicle and its occu- pants at all times. Remember that this is an unknown risk and not a "routine" vehicle stop. When exiting the vehicle, close the door without slamming it. Don't forget the obvious. Keep your gun hand free, which UNKNOWN AND KNOWN RISK VEHICLE STOPS You should conduct every traffic stop in a way that ensures you have a tactical advantage. The Winning Edge MICHAEL SCHLOSSER PHOTOS: MICHAEL SCHLOSSER

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