Fairfax County police take us for a ride-along and demonstrate how a traffic stop is supposed to go.
Every police officer's number one concern is the safety of others and their own. That is why the Fairfax County Police Department put together a short video demonstrating proper technique for traffic stops. To practice the procedures demonstrated within the video ensures the safety of you and the officer during a routine traffic stop.
As a reminder to the video, below are some of the safety measures and proper procedures, described by the police officers.
Pull over as safely as possible.
Pulling over as soon as possible is important when it comes to a traffic stop. Most of the time proper procedure is to pull to the right side of the road, however if you are impeding traffic or heavy traffic exists there may be a better option. Roads that have large shoulders or nearby parking lots can ensure a safer situation for both you and the officer to ensure the stop goes quickly and safely.
Avoid excessive movement and listen to commands.
An officer of the law has a very risky job as they never know who they will be dealing with. They constantly are required to stay alert to better protect themselves, their partner and the community. Most of the time all police ask is that you follow commands and everything will go smooth.
The video suggests keeping your hands on your steering wheel so the officer can see them at all times. They recommend staying in your vehicle at all times unless otherwise specified. To avoid question or cause heightened moments, avoid moving around. If you are moving around or appear as though you are reaching for something, this may draw suspicion to the officer. To you, it may simply be putting your registration away in your glove box, to them it could be the person grabbing a weapon out of the glove box; the police must be alert and ready for any circumstance at all times.
Officers may approach on the passenger side of the vehicle, do not be alarmed.
This can occur for a number of reasons, however if there is steady traffic or heightened safety issues, the officer may approach from the passenger side. Do not be alarmed if this occurs. This is for mere safety of the officer as safety is their number one priority. If a second officer arrives to check on the first officer, which can happen several times during overnight hours, also do not be alarmed as this is just routine practice.
Night time can be different but still requires safety.
If you are being pulled over by an unmarked police officer or you are unsure that it is an actual law enforcement agency, continue to the nearest, well lit, well populated area and pull over. It is a good idea to indicate you will be doing this by putting on your hazard lights. If you are still unsure if it is a law enforcement agency, you can also call 9-1-1 to ensure that it is in fact an officer trying to perform a traffic stop.
Receiving a ticket from the officer.
If you receive a ticket from the officer, the side of the street is NOT the correct location to argue. If you disagree with the ticket, that is ok. All of the information for court is on the summons where you can contest the citation. The side of the road is not a safe or appropriate location to argue the violation.
Respect can go along way when it comes to many things within law enforcement. Officer's understand that everyone is human and can make mistakes. Officers are looking for compliance, not convictions. Like any job, officers want to go to work and come home safely. Remember, if you are pulled over by a police officer, comply with their orders, show respect and know that they are there to protect you and the community.