Departmental personnel shall use the procedures set forth in this
policy when conducting traffic stops to ensure the safety of the
officer, the violator, other occupants, and the general public.
While making traffic stops, officers shall take necessary
precautions to ensure their own safety as well as that of other
motorists and the general public while at the same time
performing this task in a professional manner.
High-risk motor vehicle stop: A traffic stop when an
officer has a reasonable belief that a motor vehicle
contains an operator or passenger who is suspected of having
committed a felony.
Motor vehicle stop: A traffic stop based on an objectively
reasonable suspicion by the officer that the individual
violated a statute or ordinance.
A. Prestop Conditions for Traffic Stops
All traffic stops have unknown risks, and the potential
for violent encounters with motor vehicle occupant(s)
may occur. Officer safety should be considered at all
1. In preparing to stop a violator, the officer
should consider the existing conditions, including
(but not limited to) the roadway design and
conditions, weather, lighting, and the traffic
flow in order to minimize the hazards of the
2. To initiate the traffic stop, the officer shall
use the police vehicle’s flashing blue light and
siren and other necessary equipment to effect the
3. Upon stopping, the police vehicle should be
positioned in a way to afford maximum protection
to the officer and the violator’s vehicle during
4. In most instances, the operator should be directed
to move their motor vehicle to the far right side
of the roadway (i.e., utilizing turn signals, arm
signals, or the public address system). However,
officers should be prepared to handle an operator
who stops elsewhere, possibly creating a hazard.
5. Upon initiating the traffic stop, officers
shall use their police radio to notify dispatch
and provide them with their location and the
vehicle’s license plate number. When practicable,
a description of the vehicle and the number of
occupants should be given.
B. Approach and Contact for Traffic Stops
1. When approaching the motor vehicle, officers
should approach with caution and position
themselves in a safe location to communicate
effectively with the operator and still view any
other occupants in the motor vehicle. This could
include the passenger’s side of the vehicle.
Officers should be aware that any traffic stop may
escalate into a high-risk traffic stop at any
2. Officers shall take reasonable measures to avoid
placing themselves in the path or potential path
of a motor vehicle.
3. In instances where the occupants exit a motor
vehicle, the officer should request for the
occupants to remain in the vehicle for safety
reasons. The officer should also be prepared to
take the necessary precautions should the
occupant(s) fail to respond to repeated orders.
5. In greeting the violator, officers should present
a professional image and treat the individual with
respect and courtesy. This should include giving
a greeting; identifying themselves by rank and
name; providing the reason for the stop; and
requesting the individual’s driver’s license,
motor vehicle’s registration, proof of insurance,
and any other documents (if applicable).
6. Officers should not accept any wallet containing a
driver’s license. The officer should have the
individual remove their driver’s license from the
7. During the course of the traffic stop, officers
should remain cognizant that criminal activity
unrelated to the traffic stop may be present. As
a result, this may warrant additional law
enforcement actions (e.g., arrest).
8. If the violator is asked to exit the motor vehicle
for further investigation, the individual should
be directed to a safe location off to the side of
the roadway and away from possible hazards.
C. High-Risk Traffic Stops
1. Officers should take additional precautions to
update other officers of the situation via radio
and take tactical measures to ensure the officers’
and the public’s safety.
2. The officer should create a safe distance between
his or her police vehicle and the violator’s
vehicle. The position should
also provide other motorists a visual warning of
the stop location.
4. The patrol supervisor should respond to the scene
of a high-risk traffic stop.
5. Officers should follow high-risk tactics
associated with vehicle stops by properly
positioning their vehicles to maximize safe cover
and give other motorists visual warnings of the
6. One officer shall be established as the contact
officer. The contact officer should utilize the
public address system, if available, to instruct
the occupant(s) of the vehicle to follow verbal
7. The operator of the vehicle should be ordered to
turn off the engine
8. The occupants of the vehicle should be ordered to
exit the vehicle one at a time.
9. As occupants are ordered to exit the motor
vehicle, they should be ordered to raise their
arms and turn around slowly
10. The contact officer may have the occupants
11. If neither technique is appropriate for the
situation, officers should utilize techniques to
minimize risks to the officers and occupants.
D. Enforcement Action
If a citation is issued, the officer should be aware of
the flow of roadway traffic and the actions of the
violator while completing the citation.
E. Issuance of Citation and Conclusion of Contact
1. The officer should approach the motor vehicle and
be cognizant of the flow of roadway traffic and
the occupants in the vehicle.
2. The officer should explain the reason(s) for
giving the citation(s) to the violator and answer
any questions the individual might have.
3. When the citation is completed, officers should
allow the violator’s vehicle safe reentry into the
roadway. Once contact with the motor vehicle is
concluded, officers may turn off their emergency