NJCOPS MOTOR VEHICLE STOP MARCH 2013 As a Police Officer there is one common bond that we share…the Motor Vehicle Stop. Whether you work for a local, city, county, state or federal agency or whether you patrol in a city, highway or rural environment the motor vehicle stop is the one aspect that we “ALL” share. When speaking with any Police Officer from anywhere around the country you will always get that one memorable stop story. Just like everything else in police work motor vehicles stops have become more scrutinized and we always need to know that are actions on a motor vehicle stop will be judged not only in court but in the court of public perception. With that being said the motor vehicle stop in by far the most dangerous aspect of a Police Officer’s job. More Police Officers have been hurt or killed on motor vehicle stops than any other call that we have and the General Rule with Motor Vehicle Stops is GO HOME SAFE! When you conduct a motor vehicle stop you are always at a tactical disadvantage. This is an unscheduled, unknown encounter with an unknown subject or subjects and in the public’s opinion it is considered an unpleasant experience. During the course of my training I have had several opportunities to train with high end operators from both law enforcement and military backgrounds. I can say with 100% certainty that 100% of them tell me that the Police Officer on patrol making a motor vehicle stop has the most dangerous job. Here are a few guidelines to enhance officer safety: Call the stop in: Relay the stop information over the radio to the dispatcher, the station or input the information into your CAD Unit. Make your stop in a well lit area: When feasible try and stop cars in areas that are well lit, have wide shoulders or if you are able to then pull off the roadway. This is the ground where you may have to fight for your life so “YOU” pick the ground. More Light: Make proper use of all your patrol vehicle’s lights, (overheads, take downs, spotlight). The goal is to dominate with the light. Exiting your patrol vehicle: Upon exiting your vehicle try not to slam the car door and leave the window open. This will aid in a stealthier approach and an open window ensures that you are not locked out and you have easier access to get into your vehicle quickly. Tactical approach: When feasible make your approach on the passenger side of the vehicle. This will serve as a 3,000 pound object that you can use for cover in the event of a gun fight or an accident. Make proper use of your flashlight: Once you are at the vehicle use your flashlight to gain compliance from the vehicle driver and / or passengers. Shine the light into a person’s eyes and they raise their hands to block the light. Flashlights need to be utilized from the support hand. Remember that your strong hand is for your weapon. Hands, hands, hands: Constantly check the hands! Hands are what can kill us so always check and recheck the hands. Check traffic: The saying goes, “Bumpers kill just as many officers as bullets.” Do not get complacent: Keep in mind that your PRIMARY mission is to get home safe.