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Traffic stop and driver conduct-- how should you behave?

8466 Views 30 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  sfguard
Question for LEO's all the people that carry. If you're pulled over by a LEO how should one behave? I've read a couple of suggestions but I'm wondering what the glock pro'ers think. Here's what I've heard/read:

-- Roll down all windows
-- Interior lights on if it's at night.
-- Hands stay on the steering wheel until asked for license/registration.
-- I realize it'll vary from state to state whether or not you're legally obligated to declare if you have a loaded firearm in the car. For me, when I'm asked by the LEO I would hand them my drivers license as well as my CCW license, then answer all questions he/she has while I keep my hands visible and on the wheel.

Does this seem reasonable so far?

Thanks in advance
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Cops will kno you have a CCW or whatever by the time they approach your vehicle.
Like some already pointed out this statement is only true in some localities. In Georgia it is NOT true. Our GWL is NOT linked to our DL and the info resides in different databases with different agencies within the state. The LEO has ZERO access to the GWL info on scene.

How to act? As one would always act ... like a gentleman, of course.

Here's my process;
pull over to a safe place ... safe for me and for the LEO who will be on foot alongside traffic
turn off radio
roll down window all the way
have DL in hand already before the LEO gets to my window
hands on steering wheel
if dark, turn the interior light on
don't reach for anything or dig around for anything ... in GA we don't have to show registration unless asked so I leave it where it's at rather than digging around in the dash for it
speak to the officer politely & professionally ... same as I expect to be treated
let him dictate the way the stop goes, not me

Side note: In GA we are not required to tell the LEO up front we are armed. Some states DO require this. Know the law in your state. I don't volunteer this info unless I asked. I have never been asked to step out of my vehicle but if I am asked ... at that point I will prob let them know I am armed. If a LEO asks me directly if I am armed I will answer truthfully and offer my GWL for their inspection.
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I would not put your gun on the dash! If I pulled you over and first thing I see is a gun on the dash, im gonna be a little nervous. Doesnt matter if the mag is out or not, there could be a round in the chamber for all the officer knows.
That's exactly what I was thinking. Visible gun when LEO approaches window is likely to get you drawn down on. I can't believe they made a law like that. That's nuts.
I don't think I'll make an issue of the gun unless it comes up (asked to get out of the car, request to search vehicle, etc).
To expound on this a bit ....

I will never knowingly lie or mislead an officer.
If he ask me directly, "Do you have any weapons in the car?"
I will answer truthfully and say, "Yes. I am licensed to carry it.".
We'll see how it goes from there.

If he asks, "Do you have anything in the car I need to know about?"
I will answer truthfully and say, "No."
I don't have anything in my vehicle he needs to be concerned about. I have nothing illegal and my weapon is no danger to him.

As far as searching my vehicle goes .... never without a warrant. I can say this here and now ... I have never once used any illegal substance. I have never once had any illegal substance in my possession. I have absolutely nothing to hide whatsoever but will not submit to a warrant less search. If the officer has reasonable ariticulable suspicion (the Chief will correct me on the terminology if I messed it up) then he can explain that to the judge and get a warrant. Until then .... "Am I Free To Go?" Searching my vehicle without a good reason is a waste of my time and a waste of the officer's time. That's time he could be conducting traffic enforcement, searching for bad guys, answering another call, backing up his LEO buddies, etc.
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Hi Vol--

Yah, I thought about the warrant issue as well, but for me if the officer asks to search the vehicle I decided I won't say "no" or "may I see a warrant"? I figure it'll be more work on both our parts to go through that conversation, and for the LEO I have nothing to hide including my weapon.
It most likely won't be more work unless you in fact were up to something as the LEO was probably asking if he could search just to see if he could find anything or to see how you reacted to his request. Some departments ask if they can search as a matter of habit ... kind of SOP. That's a waste of time. If he truly feels he has a reason to search then getting a warrant or drug dog out to give him RAS to search without a warrant isn't that big of a deal.

I understand where you are coming from and used to feel the exact same way as you. Over time I have decided (based on reading & watching other traffic encounters) that I won't allow a warrant less search. Most of the LEOs I know tell me they also wouldn't allow one. Take that for what it's worth.

Regarding the firearm ... if you are not required to tell the officer about the gun and you are not asked to step from the vehicle ... What will telling him about it gain you? What will it do for/to him? I have heard many, many accounts of the LEO simply saying, "That's cool. Just keep it in the holster." Unfortunately, I have also heard of a few (yet isolated) cases where the LEO freaked out and escalated the encounter unnecessarily. I have heard of folks being temporarily cuffed while the LEO runs the SN on the gun through the system. One case in GA last year the citizen's legally carried gun was confiscated (he was NOT arrested or cited but the gun was still taken) and it took him months and a lawyer to get it back. I know those cases are VERY rare. I just don't want to be that one outlier.

Please understand I am very PRO-LEO. The Chief will tell you that. I would be one in minute if I could go back in time and start my career over. I have been through two local Citizen Police Academies and been on numerous ride-alongs with at least 4 different jurisdictions in two states. I respect the profession immensely and have many folks I call "friend" that wear the badge ... local & Federal. I would never do anything to disrespect them.
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Yeah, unless you have something laying out in plain sight (ie Plainsight evidence) if your involved in a routine stop and don't want your car searched it probably isn't going to happen. Unless some form of probable cause exists for detention pending a warrent. That takes something though
I think shows like COPS have really tainted people's view of how traffic stops go down. On the show almost every vehicle gets searched and it appears to be matter of fact that it should happen. The reality is on that show it probably should happen. Remember, you are watching the dramatic takes and not the routine stops. Who wants to watch the boring stuff where the driver doesn't give permission and no dope is found?
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