U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Traffic Stops: Surviving Interactions with the Motoring Public

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 77 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2008 Pages: 1-10
Anthony J. Pinizzotto Ph.D.; Edward F. Davis M.S.; Charles E. Miller III
Date Published
May 2008
10 pages
Findings are presented from three studies on law enforcement safety in relation to traffic pursuits and stops in an attempt to assist law enforcement officers in preparing for possible violent encounters and on the development of training programs targeting officer safety during traffic stops and pursuits.
During traffic stops, law enforcement officers’ greatest danger lies in the unknown. Developing sound, updated, realistic training programs that teach officers to prepare for violent encounters before they become victims will result in significantly reducing the number of serious assaults and deaths resulting from traffic pursuits and stops. Officers need to be trained to recognize threats, avoid complacency, employ sound tactics, and utilize the Take AIM technique which consists of three components: awareness, image, and mindset. Take AIM is recommended to be used prior to the start of a tour of duty. According to the FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted annual report, 106 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed and 61,353 were assaulted while conducting traffic stops and traffic pursuits from 1996 through 2005. Three studies, a trilogy on officer safety, examined possible answers to the questions of (1) what causes an apparent routine contact with a motorist to escalate into a potentially life-threatening situation, (2) do any policies, procedures, or training programs exist that can better assist their personal safety when conducting these stops or pursuits, and (3) why do so many successful outcomes “condition” officers to expect continued positive results? After a review of the findings from this trilogy on fatal encounters and nonfatal encounters, survival tactics are presented on self-awareness, attentiveness to immediate circumstances, and willingness to employ appropriate force when justified. 5 endnotes