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  • Traffic Stop Tactics

    In the latest issue of Guns and Weapons For LE, there is an article titled Traffic Stops Do's and Don'ts. In the article is states, "If the stop gives you a bad feeling, nothing prevents you from approaching with a gun in hand, hidden behind the hip. The driver will never know." My question is, what if the driven does notice. It seems like that is a fast way to a complaint, and is that something that you could justify by a "bad feeling"? I understand being prepared and listening to your intincts, and I even think that it is a really good idea. I am just wondering if that is a kosher action.

  • #2
    I think a lot will depend on an agency's policy regarding the display of weapons. One department I worked for had a most liberal policy, allowing display out of "police necessity, or when performing a lawful duty". This pretty much left things up to the officer's discretion.
    Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

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    • #3
      Any good copper is gonna get complained on a few times, just part of the game. We live in a world where we have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. If you get that gut feeling and think somethings not right it's better to be prepared, as time goes on your "gut" will become more and more acurate. You can't spend you entire career worried about getting complained on, it's just a fact of life... welcome to the world of the LEO. Damned if you do, damned if you dont!

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      • #4
        Can't say my weapon would be out completely based solely on a feeling. I might have it unsnapped, with my hand on it ready to go though. If you have a bad feeling, you should be looking for signs to justify that. Something your gut is picking up that your head might be missing. Things like a busted lock on the trunk, is the trunk open at all (shooter inside...?), driver doesn't acknowledge you, lots of movement inside the car, etc. Best to stand back for a few, look over the situation, and if you need backup or would like another officer there, radio for it. Most of us, unless swamped, would be there without a doubt. I think having a weapon out could only incite a problem as compared to comtrolling it.

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        • #5
          Fill your hand and never apologize for it. In the end, the only person you should worry about explaining to, is some cop explaining to your spouse why you didn't.

          There is no law against it, and any policy restricting you from protecting yourself by reducing reaction time when your instinct tells you to be concerned, is a policy to be ignored.

          Fill your hand whenever you feel the need.
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          • #6
            Articulate Officer Safety!!! Night time, driver movements, Driver seemed to be over anxious or nervous, and area \ surroundings (ideal for ambush) of the stop. Write Field notes on the call slip... ”Rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6”
            "An officer has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the quality of his actions and the integrity of his intent."

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            • #7
              Going home at EOW in the same condition you arrived is issue #1. If you don't feel proficient enough to draw your gun from your holster quickly, work on it more or get another type of holster. If you really feel threatened, having the gun in hand behind your leg isn't a bad idea and as long as you can articulate your reasoning, not a problem to explain. If the driver notices (very rare), your response and attitude go a long way towards keeping him/her from complaining. Example:

              Driver- "Officer, why do you have your gun out?"

              Officer- (With a smile on his/her face and a pleasant tone of voice.) "I don't believe we've met before! If you can keep your hands on the steering wheel and only move when I ask you to, I'll feel a lot more comfortable and can put it back in my holster."

              When the driver complies and the contact is over, don't apologize for drawing you weapon initially, but do sincerly thank the subject for his/her cooperation. Later, if the subject complains to your supervisor, tell him/her the reasons why the approach was made with the gun out. As long as this isn't your typical approach and arbitrary, it shouldn't be a problem.
              "I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."

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              • #8
                I don't think that there anything wrong with approaching a car with your gun out and "hidden" behind your leg (I have done it myself) but it does raise some issues.

                At night, you probably already have a flashlight in one hand and now your gun is in the other hand. It can be hard to respond quickly to some things with both hands full. To take the driver's documents, you have to reholster, or fumble around with your flashlight and tuck it under your arm.

                If the driver jumps out and comes after you, would you be justified in shooting them? Could you keep them from grabbing your gun away from you with the gun out of its holster in your hand?

                I'm not saying its wrong, but just some things to think about. If you have a bad feeling about a traffic stop, also consider the passenger side approach, or other tactics.
                "There are two sides to every story.... mine and wrong." ~Stephen Colbert

                "Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die." ~ Mel Brooks

                "Hope for the Best. Expect the worst. Life is a play. We're unrehearsed."~ Mel Brooks

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                • #9
                  "Bad feelings" save lifes, and hesitation about those bad feelings causes LOD deaths, it's that easy. I'm going to listen to my gut long before I worry about a complaint. And yes obviously, if asked about it or a complaint is made make sure you can articulate it. However, I can definately tell you that in a situation like that, a "bad feeling" SHOULD be articulation enough.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 1042 Trooper View Post
                    Fill your hand and never apologize for it. In the end, the only person you should worry about explaining to, is some cop explaining to your spouse why you didn't.

                    There is no law against it, and any policy restricting you from protecting yourself by reducing reaction time when your instinct tells you to be concerned, is a policy to be ignored.

                    Fill your hand whenever you feel the need.
                    That's why this guy is the veteran!! Best advice to give..you gotta go home at the end of your tour..if you feel like your jammie has to come out then do so..especially at night and tinted windows..you don't know who's in the back of that SUV..have everyone put their hands on the ceiling of the car, open the trunk lid...I don't want to give away all of the tactics on an open forum..so PM if you want to know more..

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                    • #11
                      I guess I don't see how it's any faster than just approaching with your hand in the ready to draw position. When I go to the range, I don't train to draw and shoot with my gun hidden behind my hip, but we do spend a lot of time drawing from the holster; push, pull, point, punch. Anyway, I can start firing from step two. I guess I don't see it as a time saver.

                      But then again, I'm a rookie, so what the hell do I know anyway!!
                      Invisible cows control my mind.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Phlip View Post
                        I guess I don't see how it's any faster than just approaching with your hand in the ready to draw position. When I go to the range, I don't train to draw and shoot with my gun hidden behind my hip, but we do spend a lot of time drawing from the holster; push, pull, point, punch. Anyway, I can start firing from step two. I guess I don't see it as a time saver.

                        But then again, I'm a rookie, so what the hell do I know anyway!!
                        Don't sell your self short you know a lot already, you just need to learn more, but are you telling me that you can shoot faster from a holstered sidearm than I can from having mine out and behind my hip?

                        You sir are the new Josie Wales.
                        Sometimes, doing the right thing means p***ing off the bosses.

                        "And shepherds we shall be, for thee my lord for thee."

                        Originally posted by dontknowwhy
                        I still think troopers and deputies who work in the middle of no where with essentially no back up are the 'men among men' of the LEO world.
                        Originally posted by weinerdog2000
                        as far as your social experiment, if we cant film you then you cant film us, we will arrest you for obstruction of our freedom.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by 1042 Trooper View Post
                          There is no law against it, and any policy restricting you from protecting yourself by reducing reaction time when your instinct tells you to be concerned, is a policy to be ignored.
                          Actually I'd say it's time to find some place else to work.
                          Sometimes, doing the right thing means p***ing off the bosses.

                          "And shepherds we shall be, for thee my lord for thee."

                          Originally posted by dontknowwhy
                          I still think troopers and deputies who work in the middle of no where with essentially no back up are the 'men among men' of the LEO world.
                          Originally posted by weinerdog2000
                          as far as your social experiment, if we cant film you then you cant film us, we will arrest you for obstruction of our freedom.

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                          • #14
                            Go with your gut, you'll begin to notice more and perceive more as you conduct more stops.

                            Watch the hands, if you can't see them then begin to worry, if folks are watching you too much, shine the light in their eyes until the look away. Kill their night vision.

                            If you have a car full of folks, make contact with the driver and get him or her out of the car and to the rear of your car ASAP, call out to another unit to start your way. Their is no shame in calling for backup, you would rather have them and not need them than need them and not have them.

                            I've approached many vehicles both day and night with gun out at my side and on more than one occasion I let the occupants see it due to the activity inside the car.

                            In the end, I'm going home at the end of my shift, I'll deal with the complaint in the morning.
                            "I neither approve or blame. I merely relate."- Voltaire

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                            • #15
                              As kind of a side question to the veterans on this, how often does this tactic even get noticed by the driver? I notice that most people just aren't that observant. Sometimes I think I could have a Jolly Rancher stuck to my nose and only 20% of the folks I come in contact with would see it.
                              I miss you, Dave.
                              http://www.odmp.org/officer/20669-of...david-s.-moore

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