I got this question about a month ago and it got buried in my folder. My apologies, Frank! Better late than never, right? So without any further ado…
It’s been a long time since I have been pulled over for anything, but if for whatever reason the subject comes up I try to encourage people to use safer practices if they get pulled over. ie… don’t stop in a traffic lane… if possible, pull onto a side street, parking lot, or far enough off the road that the LEO is not exposed to traffic… if at night, stop under a streetlight if one is available… roll down all windows if you can, turn on interior lights, keep your hands visible and on the wheel until told to do something else with them… and announce your movements before you make them (such as, ‘my insurance card is in the glovebox, officer, just a moment’). And of course, be polite, be honest, etc.
That all being the case, is there a point where being a little too friendly to the LEO’s needs will actually draw suspicion or push you away from giving the friendlies a break? Like… ‘you seem to know a lot about getting pulled over, what else have you done to have learned all this?’
Is there anything you would add or remove from my short list of do’s and don’ts for drivers who are pulled over?
Okay….that’s a whole lot of info to digest. The crux of your suggestions is greatly appreciated if not a mite over the top. Obviously, you’re advocating safety and Lord knows, we’re all for it. (Just a quick aside, here. All of these things I’m suggesting are my opinion. I don’t presume to speak for any other LEO or agency.) I’ll take your practices one by one:
1. Don’t stop in a traffic lane. Agreed. Speaking for myself, I will direct the driver via P.A. to yield to the right if there’s a shoulder. If there isn’t one, I will direct them to the next side street.
2. Stopping under a street light at night. While I absolutely appreciate the sentiment behind it, unless there is a street light within 100 yards or so of where I light a driver up, it is more likely to cause me concern pre-contact. I can’t look into a driver’s mind and see they are trying to be helpful. I have to operate under the assumption they’re up to something. Upon contact, it is typically easy to distinguish between the two, but prior to contact, all sorts of red flags go up if the driver doesn’t yield within a certain time/distance.
3. Roll down windows, turn on lights, keep hands visible. All excellent advice.
4. Announce movement. Also very helpful.
It’s funny, but when I walk up on a car and I see the driver’s hands on the steering wheel, I think one of two things: Cop or Con. If the hair is high and tight, my first question is typically, “Where do you work?” If I’m not getting a particularly porky fragrance off the driver, my first question may very well be, “Probation or Parole?” Either way, it’s nice to deal with professionals. Soccer moms have no understanding of Officer Safety.
Insofar as being overly friendly goes, after stopping literally thousands of cars, it becomes close to second nature to sniff out the well-intentioned from the sleight-of-hand artist. As I’ve said innumerable times, attitude and honesty go a long way with me. If I’m inclined to give warnings, it can only help.
Thanks for taking the time, Frank, and again, I’m sorry for taking so long to get to your question. It was a valuable one! Thanks for reading and come back anytime!