Saturday’s Question

As promised, Sunny in AZ, here’s your question:

The “stay in the car” issue may be confusing because many times when you drive by a traffic stop, people are out of the vehicle speaking with the officer(s) and not in any kind of restraint. How is being in the car any less dangerous to you than being out of the car, since she could theoretically pull a weapon while inside the car from her center console or glove compartment (or frufru handbag because she sounds like she carries one)? Just curious, do you tell the driver specifically to stay in the vehicle while you write him/her up? Is that any kind of standard procedure? Might that alleviate this problem, or would it just go in one ear and out the other?

Let me start by saying, your best bet is to do whatever it is the Officer tells you to do. Also, just because I would have you do something, doesn’t mean you should look for every Officer to do the same. As has been mentioned in other commentary, most Motors will approach on the passenger side, whilst most car cops will approach on the driver’s side. Having said that, I’ll try and answer your questions with what I am looking for on any given stop.

First, with regard to the people standing outside speaking to an Officer(s). There are any number of reasons this could have occurred. Anything from maybe the Officer didn’t want to embarrass the driver in front of his/her date about some outstanding parking tickets to maybe the driver is an informant and is giving up the goods. Who knows? Every stop is different.

How is being in the car less dangerous to me than being out of the car? Personally, I like people to stay in the car because I can write my cite and keep an eye on them, but they may not necessarily have the best view of me. Their movements are easier to restrict, spatially speaking. What I mean is, should the occupant(s) have a gun, it’d be harder for them to get a bead on me from inside a car versus being outside and having full range of movement. In my opinion, keeping someone in the car allows me more control versus having them out and about. Particularly if there are multiple parties in the car. The more people in the car, the more important they stay there, in my opinion.

The other issue is liability. If some idiot driver comes jumping out of the car and passing traffic tattoos them into next week, well, I’d rather not have that happen. I wouldn’t be liable, of course (not that the suing wouldn’t commence post haste), but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t feel shitty about it. Again, in my opinion, it’s safer for everyone involved if the driver and/or occupants remain in the car.

Finally, sometimes it does indeed go in one ear and out the other. Some people are just stuck on stupid and are so intent and explaining why they ran that red light that they don’t listen to what they are told.

There are definitely circumstances under which I will pull someone out of the car (DUI investigation, car search, etc), but more often than not, if we’re just talking about your run of the mill citation, I want everyone to stay put. Any deviation from that is a red flag in my book and deserves a second look.

Thanks for your patience, Sunny, and I hope that cleared it up for you a bit. Stay cool down there…getting hot here, I can only imagine your pain. Go buy a motorcop a nice cool Frappuccino. 😉