There is no such thing as a routine traffic stop: That is the message many in law enforcement want those not in law enforcement to understand.
“It’s probably the most dangerous position you can put any law enforcement officer in,” Maricopa County sheriff’s Detective Doug Matteson said.
MCSO has abut 700 deputies patrolling a 9,200 square-mile area. In the past 18 months, they’ve conducted approximately 50,000 traffic stops and none have ended in a deputy-involved shooting, Matteson said.
ABC15 talked to the men and women of MCSO who train those deputies.
“Every one of us here has either been hurt or knows we have the potential to be hurt,” Sgt. Chris Malast said.
Trainers said driver and deputy safety starts with communication.
“We have to react to what the other people are doing, what the other people are saying. It’s very rare that we push the issue. We always have to react to what they do,” said Jeff Hall, of MCSO. “If you’re reaching for different things, what do we know you’re reaching for?”
“’I have my driver’s license in my back pocket. My driver’s license is in my purse on the passenger seat. Is it OK if I reach in and get it?’ is a good way of phrasing something,” said Gary D’Agostino, of MCSO.
If a driver is acting strangely or overly anxious, that’s likely to also make the officer or deputy anxious too, because they’ll wonder why the driver is uneasy.
“A lot of people we come in contact with, that’s the only contact they’ve ever have. That’s the only time they’ve ever been stopped, so how do they know what they’ve got to do?” Hall said.
MCSO officials offers these basic tips:
-Turn your dome light on at night, so they can see inside.
-Have all your windows down, so they know whether anyone is in the backseat.
-Pull over to the right far enough that you’re well out of traffic.
-Keep your hands on the wheel.
-Wait to reach for anything until you’re told to get it.