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Vehicle Stops (From Patrol Response to Contemporary Problems: Enhancing Performance of First Responders Through Knowledge and Experience, P 141-151, 2006, John A. Kolman, ed. -- See NCJ-215624)

NCJ Number
Robert D. Magnuson
Date Published
11 pages
This chapter addresses vehicle-stop strategies and tactics, with attention to issues of officer safety.
A vehicle stop is defined as any situation in which officers are deployed directly from a patrol vehicle to have direct contact with a vehicle or pedestrian in performing a law enforcement duty. A vehicle stop begins when an officer observes a law violation or obtains information that gives an officer a legal reason (probable cause or reasonable suspicion) to stop a vehicle or pedestrian. Every stop has a beginning (assessing the stop and positioning the patrol vehicle); a middle (tactical control of the stop and contact); and an end (clearing the stop scene). The "middle" is the stage of the stop where most tactical changes occur. Assessing a stop involves determining the risk probabilities in the particular stop. The risk categories identified are low-risk (felonious assault of the officer unlikely); unknown risk (uncertain potential for felonious assault); and high risk (high likelihood of a felonious assault on the officer). Examples are provided of the features of a stop that would place it in one of these categories. Various options for positioning the patrol vehicle in the stop are described. How lighting affects the stop, including lights on the patrol vehicle, is also addressed. Other tactical issues discussed are force considerations, verbal tactics, deadly force considerations, and when to use a "walk-back" instruction to a driver (driver is instructed to leave the vehicle and walk back to the officer). The chapter concludes with a discussion of factors to observe in the course of a stop that may elevate the risk assessment and how this changes an officer's tactics in controlling the stop.