What to Do When Stopped by a Police Officer

Your safety and civil rights are important to each and every police officer. We are committed to working with you to ensure every encounter you have with one of our officers is a positive one. 

It is important to remember there are many reasons why you might be stopped by a police officer. Whatever the reason, your cooperation is a vital part of the experience. 

WHY DO POLICE OFFICERS STOP PEOPLE?

 


Police officers are trained to identify and investigate violations of local, state and federal laws. Every situation is different. Here are a few reasons for which you may be stopped by police: 
    • The officer observed a violation of the law. 
    • You appear to need assistance. 
    • You are in an area where a crime just occurred. 
    • You may be a witness to a crime. 
    • You may fit the description of a suspect. 
    • You may have been identified as a suspect 

WHEN APPROACHED BY A POLICE OFFICER: 
Remember, there are several reasons the officer might want to speak with you. Your cooperation is vital. A calm reaction on your part can keep the encounter pleasant and positive. 

IMPORTANT THINGS YOU CAN DO: 
    • Follow the officer’s instructions; if unclear, ask. 
    • Keep your hands visible. 
    • Make slow movements. 
    • Tell the officer if you have a weapon (knife, gun, etc.). 
    • Remain calm and do not become argumentative. 

WHAT IF YOU ARE IN A CAR? Follow the tips listed above. 
    • Remain seated in the vehicle; do not get out of the vehicle unless instructed to do so. 
    • Keep your hands visible at all times. 
    • During darkness, turn on the interior light prior to the officer approaching. 
    • Give the officer your driver’s license and vehicle registration upon request. 

COMMITTED TO YOUR SAFETY: 
Police officers are highly trained and committed to protecting citizens. If you get stopped by an officer, remember that he or she: 
    • Is recording the interaction for your and their protection. 
    • Does not intend to offend you. 
    • Usually does not have any previous knowledge of you. 
    • May not be stopping you for the same reason you perceive. 
    • Is trained to remain in a position that enhances his or her safety, and the safety of others. 

IF YOU DO NOT AGREE WITH THE OFFICER’S ACTIONS 
    • Follow their instructions. This is not the time to argue. 
    • Ask for their supervisor. 
    • Note name, car number and call as soon as the officer leaves. 
    • File a complaint (website, phone, etc.) 

Police officers may at any time request permission to search a person, vehicle or property. If asked, you have the right to refuse. 

Remember, stay calm and address your complaint when the interaction is completed.