WTVM Editorial 7/29/16: What to do when stopped by police

WTVM Editorial 7/29/16: What to do when stopped by police

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – Anytime you see the red and blue flashing lights of a police car, it can be disorienting and a little scary.

But some common sense rules, that unfortunately are not always followed, can make a traffic stop - and even an arrest - go smoothly for both you and the police.

A wide variety of sources, from the American Civil Liberties union to minority rights websites, agree that you must follow these rules to stay safe during a stop by police.

  • First, pull over in a safe spot as soon as possible. Turn off the car, turn on the dome light and roll down all your windows.
  • Keep your hands, both of them, on top of the steering wheel when the officer approaches you. Never argue with the officer. Listen and follow police directions exactly.
  • Don't rummage through your belongings. If you have your registration in the glove box and your license in your wallet, tell the officer that and he or she will talk you through how and when to reach for those items.
  • Above all, stay calm and be polite. Remember, if you disagree with the officer, do not argue during the stop, even if you think you're right. You can make a complaint later if you need to. Remember details the best you can, such as the officer's name, where you were stopped and why.
  • If the stop results in your arrest, never run, never fight, never struggle or resist arrest.

Again, you can make a complaint later if you feel mistreated. As much as we want the police to respect us, we must always show the police respect, too.

They are doing a difficult, highly unpredictable, dangerous job. Surprising an officer with sudden moves, even if you don't mean to be threatening, can be tragically misunderstood.

Sudden moves greatly escalate the danger to both of you. Keep calm, listen carefully, follow directions, never argue, be respectful.

Five pretty simple rules that you need to follow, for the safety of both of you.


General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to hsteuart@wtvm.com or write to:

WTVM Editorial Committee
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Columbus, GA 31906

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