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Traffic stops put emphasis on safety

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More than two weeks removed from Operation Thun­der, local law enforcement will shift its focus back toward roving patrols to catch traffic violators, a move that puts an emphasis on officer safety.



The concern isn’t without merit.

From 2002 to 2011, 98 officers were feloniously killed nationwide while performing traffic stops, according to the FBI’s Web site. At least two of those officers had ties to the Augusta area.

Sgt. Tracy English, an assistant post commander with the Georgia State Patrol, said that’s why local officers are trained to approach stopped vehicles with extreme caution.

“People sometimes complain when an officer walks up to the car with his hand on his gun, but I have no idea what is going on inside the car until I get there,” he said. “Once you determine (the driver) isn’t a threat, you can conduct your tasks.”

However, the danger sometimes isn’t apparent until an officer begins to approach the stopped vehicle, he said.

On Dec. 20, 2011, Aiken Pub­lic Safe­ty Officer Scotty Rich­ardson, 33, was killed after making a routine traffic stop. Stephon M. Carter is accused of opening fire as Rich­ardson and Officer Travis Griffin approached the vehicle. Griffin was wounded.

Less than two months prior, Richmond County Deputy James “J.D.” Paugh was killed on his way home after finishing a shift. He stopped to investigate a stopped car, and Army Spc. Christopher Michael Hodges, 26, fatally shot Paugh before taking his own life.

English said these events highlight the importance of seeing the driver’s hands before approaching any further.

“A person can’t hurt you unless they use their hands,” said English, who has worked for the state patrol since 1994. “If you can see their hands, you control them.”

Lt. Ramone Lamkin, of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Traffic Division, said illuminating the inside of the car helps to put the officer at ease.

It’s also important for the driver to let the officer know of any weapons in the car, Lamkin said.

“If you’re going to be reaching for your glove box and that’s where you keep your gun, it’s a smart idea to advise the officer,” he said.

The danger isn’t always on the inside of a car.

A National Law Enforce­ment Officers Memorial Fund report found that 30 officers were killed in automobile crashes during 2012. Fourteen of those were killed while standing outside of their vehicle.

For this reason, Lamkin said, officers are trained to park their patrol cars in a way that shields them and the other car from accidents in the road, also making sure to stop in an area that is safe for both.

“You don’t want to put (the driver) in a predicament where they could be exposed to any danger,” he said.

Lamkin said the sheriff’s office doesn’t have a system in place to track traffic stop incidents, but estimates that Richmond County officers are engaged in foot pursuits and car chases every day.

Comments (20) Add comment
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Riverman1
93228
Points
Riverman1 06/17/13 - 04:01 am
14
2
Scary Stuff

Stopping a vehicle that has broken some law, not knowing who is inside, has to be one of the scariest things around. Law enforcement deserves respect for what they do.

Just My Opinion
6238
Points
Just My Opinion 06/17/13 - 05:46 am
8
4
God bless the policemen and

God bless the policemen and firemen who are out there to protect our lives! NOBODY should ever give them trouble while they are doing their jobs. Despite the recent news, there are far more good policemen and firemen working for us than there are bad ones.
Thank you all.

nocnoc
49121
Points
nocnoc 06/17/13 - 06:26 am
8
2
The solution is simple - help them help you ☺

Night or day the quicker the LEO traffic stop is done, it reduces the risk of them getting hurt.

Would a LEO commenter review this and comment if anything additional would help?

Pull over at the 1st safe location

Make sure you have your seat belt on.

Have your paperwork and wallet already on the dash.
(I carry mine in a small clear, dollar store check/coupon holder)

Turn on the dome light if it is dark.

Open the window

Turn off the vehicle.

Place the keys on the roof.

Turn the RAP music off, yapping about killing cops.

Place your hands on the steering wheel.

Initially explain you are hard of hearing (if you are)

When asked if you know why you were stopped, respond, You are not sure, that you noticed the blue lights and pulled over at the 1st safe location.

My understanding is at any time you feel you are getting an attitude or screwed with, you can request a RCSO Watch Commander be called. But understand it can add 20+ mins to the stop.

Too avoid any misunderstanding.
I fully support my Law Enforcement Officers functioning within their oath of office, the GA Law and that respect my GA and US rights.

justthefacts
24891
Points
justthefacts 06/17/13 - 07:11 am
5
0
nocnoc

Noc, you should google Chris Rock's advice on Utube on what to do when stopped by the popo.

Little Lamb
48816
Points
Little Lamb 06/17/13 - 07:34 am
5
2
Respond

I haven't been pulled over that many times, but it does happen. As nocnoc mentioned, it seems to be standard procedure for the officer's first words to be, “Do you know why I stopped you, sir (or ma’am)?” This response seems to work for me, “Perhaps you’d better tell me, officer.” The last two stops I got warning tickets.

GiantsAllDay
10463
Points
GiantsAllDay 06/17/13 - 08:09 am
8
3
Here's what amuses me

Here's what amuses me sometimes. Someone gets pulled over for speeding and a PASSENGER is arrested for an outstanding warrant. I realize that people who have warrants or have illegal drugs on them aren't the brightest people in the world. Most probably do not read the comments on the AC website. But I'll give my 2 cents anyway. If you are a passenger and you have nothing to do with why the driver was stopped and you aren't doing anything suspicious, you do NOT have to identify yourself. If this happens to you say "officer, which section of the Georgia penal code am I suspected of violating?" If he can't tell you which one, them politely decline to identify yourself. My guess is that most passengers are arrested because they think they are required to identify themselves.

BamaMan
2675
Points
BamaMan 06/17/13 - 08:13 am
7
2
Traffic Stops

I have had one ticket in my 45 years of driving. Got it for speeding in Gray, GA 25 years ago. Never been through there before, didn't know the area. I wasn't happy, but getting an attitude would've only made things worse. I have respect for other people, and especially have respect for the police. NEVER EVER have an attitude with the police! It can ONLY make things worse.

seenitB4
96818
Points
seenitB4 06/17/13 - 08:28 am
8
2
Respect them

I know many law/firemen.....I give them 100% respect....the dangers are many some just don't realize how dangerous these jobs really are...i have been married to law enforcement & I know how many hours they give to their job..

Dixieman
17194
Points
Dixieman 06/17/13 - 08:47 am
6
1
Leave your attitude behind

Yes sir, no sir, three bags full, sir is my standard set of replies. I also like to keep my hands on the steering wheel at all times. And I do NOT tell them I am a lawyer (even though I don't defend criminals).

GnipGnop
12744
Points
GnipGnop 06/17/13 - 09:39 am
5
1
All good advice....

Of course you will run into the occasional jerk but your response should still be polite and respectful. That's the rule I have always lived by and several times I have gotten warnings instead of tickets....

nocnoc
49121
Points
nocnoc 06/17/13 - 09:48 am
1
0
Justthefacts - Thanks for the video pointer

It was great.

A group of us were getting ready to go target shooting and
pulled it up, waiting on 1 of the group to drag his oversleeping
lazy tail here.

It had us rolling in the floor. Echoing "Yeah that will get your _____ kicked." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uj0mtxXEGE8.

One of the group said,
Clean up the wording a little and it would make a great PSA for TV or a Drivers ED video for young adults, just getting the 1st driver license.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
11033
Points
ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 06/17/13 - 09:46 am
6
1
Giants

As a former LEO, if someone is a passenger in a car that is stopped for a traffic charge they are normally not questioned. Should they be asked for ID it is usually in giving them an opportunity to drive for the person who was operating the vehicle. Other than that it is someone who doesn't know how to keep their mouth shut and interferes with the investigation the LEO is conducting. When stopping a car that has been speeding the LEO doesn't know why they are speeding. If it is a medical condition that requires a hospital and they are close they are usually let go quickly to get to the hospital. Then again, it could be the two guys that just robbed your convenience store and asking both occupants for ID and information is legal. Your "advice" is flawed and can result on someone gaining a criminal record.

GiantsAllDay
10463
Points
GiantsAllDay 06/17/13 - 10:03 am
2
0
Cold Beer, if I were a

Cold Beer, if I were a passenger I would still stick to my philosophy the way I described it. HOWEVER, if the officer INSISTED that I identify myself, I would certainly comply. But there would be a record that I initially declined and then I would let a judge decide whether or not it was legal to make such a request.
Read my post again. If a store had just been robbed, the officer would tell me what section of the penal code he suspected me of violating, if I asked him. Or is the cop the only one allowed to ask questions?
http://youtu.be/6wXkI4t7nuc

T.More
223
Points
T.More 06/17/13 - 03:11 pm
8
0
Whose Safety?

People keep posting not to have an attitude, but typically in my experience with family and friends, who are law-abiding, tax paying, God-fearing, country-loving citizens of this great land and great state it is the officer who comes across with attitude first.

Now for most within a certain demographic you are right the officer asks for license and registration and then asks, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” Sometimes, the license and registration question comes after the question. Now the question is an attempt to get you to immediately incriminate yourself because usually the entire traffic stop is being recorded (video and audio). So if you respond, “I might have been going a little over the speed limit, I am late to work” or “I might not have completely stopped at that stop sign, my foot slipped off the brake” you just made their case and incriminated yourself through what is called a “spontaneous statement” or “excited utterance” and the list goes on depending on jurisdiction on what fancy term they give it.

Now for others who are part of a different demographic the majority no matter the ethnic background of the officer asking the question receive a different question. Something along the lines of “Do you have any weapons or drugs in the car or anything I should be aware of?” Some sort of pretext like window tint, not pulling into the nearest lane, crossing over the line where you are supposed to stop for a red light, etc., are used to pull these individuals over based on their appearance, what they drive, their apparent lack of income, etc.

Of greatest concern is that there is no requirement for higher training/education in Georgia like in other jurisdictions. So high school kids go to an 8-12 week course depending on the state and they end up being given a badge and a gun and a whole lot of authority to make a decision that can forever jeopardize your future. Let us take for example Operation Thunder. Multiple complaints have been received where individuals did all the tests (although voluntary) and did the one required Breathalyzer test, blew less than the State limit or well below and where still arrested for DUI Less Safe to pad the county coffers and to boost statistics. We saw the article last week about revenue and how it not only funds local coffers, but provides retirement funding for the officers, a clear conflict of interest. The mindset is clear, the more tickets I write the more of boost my retirement gets and the fancier gadgets the department gets. Those people who got caught up in the drag net of Operation Thunder and in other instances are illegally arrested, etc., their life is forever altered. At least one night in jail, bonding out, hearings, court, lawyer fees, and possibly the loss of a job and forever having it as part of their arrest record even if exonerated.

I am sorry I do not share most everyone’s faith in police officers doing the right thing. They are human like the rest of us, most with very limited training and education, many of them think their authority should never be questioned and they make constitutional decisions on a daily basis for the rest of us with that limited training and education that could irretrievably alter your life and finances for the worse. All you need to do is end up on the wrong side of the law one time, which could happen to anyone who might be driving around after one beer at dinner or who might get into a domestic argument or spank their kid a little too hard for the guidance counselor’s sensibilities or might be seen as asking one too many questions and therefore obstructing an officer in his/her official duties. Those who would say it could never happen someone I love or to me, be patient, wait and see in this police state we call America.

Sweet son
11488
Points
Sweet son 06/17/13 - 11:07 am
1
0
justthefacts and nocnoc I had seen the video in the past.

It is a hoot! Richard Pryor also did some bits on being stopped by the police.

thauch12
7062
Points
thauch12 06/17/13 - 04:33 pm
4
1
Preach

Amen T. More. I couldn't have said it better myself...

specsta
7126
Points
specsta 06/17/13 - 06:20 pm
2
0
Respect goes a long way. Cops

Respect goes a long way. Cops need to respect citizens and citizens should respect cops. Officers should understand that they are public servants, working for the people, at all times.

A bad cop is the worst sort of human being - one who uses his/her power and authority to inflict suffering on others. Unfortunately, they do exist and many times are not caught until irreparable harm has been done to innocent victims.

paladin5
311
Points
paladin5 06/18/13 - 02:18 am
0
1
WOW....

WOW on T. More and Thauch12's perception of law and order....I noticed the phrase "......do not share EVERYONE'S faith in police officers doing the right thing".

Sooooo T. More and Thauch12 what are some "solutions" to your Negative Thesis or Dissertation to prevent our Police State from becoming worse....Higher Age Requirements?.....More Training for Officers which cost Taxpayers if that is what they want?

I don't know how old you are, but my personal experience with "cops" in the mid 50's and 60's were not good. The cops who came to the house when my Dad was out of control and drunk had no interest in protecting me, my younger brother, or my Mother who did what she could to protect us. They focused on not having Dad go to jail and just to go to sleep. We knew most of the local PD officers and County Deputies. Some had no training; some were HS Dropouts with no GED; Some big bodies of muscle with no brains, so you kept your mouth shut. Prejudice was a common prerequisite for being hired.

I think we have come a long way since then; we are not perfect but unless you experienced the "history" of that time, you would not recognize the difference today. So where do the experienced officers come from? Like the young soldiers that once were under my command, I did not have the luxury of having older mature men and women signing up for my "School of War".

What would it take for you to have Faith in the System.

When I walk up to a window, I Respectfully Tell You Why I stopped you....ask for you license and insurance card and then take it from there. And since 9-11 Everyone should be expected to produce some ID when asked....If you are doing nothing Wrong, or have not done Anything Wrong, it should not be a Problem.

COP - Centurion of Peace

Old School Values
126
Points
Old School Values 06/18/13 - 04:57 am
1
0
Operation Thunder was not

Operation Thunder was not about safety, it was for revenue. It takes the Police off of patrols and turn them into a fish net designed to catch the most fish in a short period of time.

corgimom
38162
Points
corgimom 06/18/13 - 03:44 pm
0
1
People, don't listen to what

People, don't listen to what GiantsAllDay has to say. It is perfectly legal for an officer to ask anyone, anytime, for identification, and it's certainly legal during a traffic stop.

As for T. More's statements, any time an officer is suspicious of a person that they have stopped, they will ask 'something along the lines of “Do you have any weapons or drugs in the car or anything I should be aware of?” If they don't, they are damn fools that will soon be dead damn fools. There is a myth that police officers are all prejudiced against minorities.

Officers don't care if people are black, white, purple, or polkadotted, they just want to go home at the end of the day. They don't want to be shot. What a stunning thought.

Sweet son
11488
Points
Sweet son 06/18/13 - 05:24 pm
1
0
corgimon

It is not legal for law enforcement to demand ID if there is no reasonable suspicion that you are committing a crime!

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