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Vehicle registrations expire, tail lights burn out, turn signals aren’t always used, drivers speed – knowingly or unknowingly. Life happens, distractions happen, violations happen. In return, police stops happen.

As a former LE agent, I am familiar with both sides of the coin of a stop. 

Police Expectations

Every police officer is shown countless videos where an officer is shot during a “routine” traffic stop. The majority of these incidents unfold very quickly and violently. The officer who is professional and experienced, makes these contacts cautiously (with good reason) and with purpose. Upon approach of the vehicle and during contact, the officer wants to see as much of the passenger compartment as possible and is cautiously aware of the hands of the occupants.

Windows Down and Light It Up

You can assist with the de-escalation of any contact by giving the officer as much exterior visibility access by:

  • Rolling down at least the driver’s side window prior to their approach.
  • Remaining seated.
  • Being patient — the officer might be checking the status of your vehicle and confirming the vehicle registration information prior to approaching your car.
  • Turning on dome lights at dusk and at night. This will help with visibility and give the officer the sense that you are a respectful and law-abiding citizen.

Hands Visible

After rolling the windows down, a good practice is to rest both hands on the very top of the steering wheel (11 and 1), allowing them to be plainly visible. Keep them there until directed to do otherwise.

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