If Stopped By Police
Please Don't Be Offended
Most people realize law enforcement is a difficult, dangerous profession. Each year thousands of police officers are injured, assaulted and sometimes killed. For these reasons, police officers tend to be extremely cautious, placing a great deal of emphasis on personal safety and survival. Certain officer safety practices are ingrained into police personnel from their first day of hire. Officers may, at times, appear to be standoffish, and abrupt. This is because officer safety procedures maximize their well-being. You may have no intention of harming an officer, but the officer does not know this. They are trained to maintain a defensive posture until confident there is no risk of confrontation or injury. Officers are trained not to become complacent; there is no such thing as a “routine” call for service or a traffic stop. Each interaction carries the potential for danger. Other officers may travel to the scene of a criminal incident or traffic stop to offer their assistance or provide a physical presence that contributes to a safe environment. Multiple squad cars do not necessarily relate to the severity of the incident.
If You Are Stopped By the Police While in Your Car
Please adhere to the following guidelines:
- Immediately pull over when you see police emergency lights. Although you might not know the reason, you should pull over right away. You may have committed a minor traffic violation or there may be a problem with your vehicle.
- Remain in the vehicle (unless instructed differently and wait for the officer to approach you. Do not exit the vehicle and approach the officer. Exiting our vehicle does not assist the officer and can be perceived as aggressive action. Please remain in the vehicle.
- Turn on your interior light if stopped at night. A lit vehicle cabin will reduce the officer’s concern of weapons or other possible threats.
- Keep your hands on the steering wheel where they can be seen by the approaching officer. Reaching under your seat can cause the officer concern you may be reaching for a weapon.
- Give your license and insurance card to the officer if asked to do so. Minnesota law requires a driver provide this information to an officer.
- Officers must have a reason to stop you and must articulate that reason during the stop. Often citizens are too anxious during a stop to recall what the officer said. Ask the officer for clarification, if needed.
- Answer all questions honestly. Information pertaining to prior arrests or traffic violations are readily available to the officer through a remote data transmitter located inside the squad car. In the squad car, officers verify driver’s license and records information with state/national computerized systems.
- Touching or threatening an officer or acting disorderly could result in additional charges and/ or arrest. If you are asked to step out of your vehicle, do so without sudden, threatening movement. Give the officer 3-4 feet of space.
- Do not become argumentative, disorderly or abusive. Once a citation is written it cannot be voided. If you believe you have been unfairly cited, don’t make your argument on the side of the road, take it to Traffic Court. If you believe the officer behaved in an unprofessional manner you may make a complaint to the Roseville Police Department.
If the Police Approach You on the Street
Innocent individuals are often offended because an officer detained them. Although the delay might be inconvenient, the officer believes there is a reason to stop you and ask you questions. Most of these stops are not officer-initiated. The most common reasons causing an officer to stop someone are:
- You might be one of only a few people in the vicinity of a recent crime.
- Your clothing may be similar to that worn by a perpetrator.
- Someone may have called the police about your presence or that you looked suspicious.
- You may be acting in a manner the officer considers "suspicious."
The police officer does not wish to detain you longer than necessary. Once the officer is able to determine you are not the individual they are looking for, the officer will release you at the scene.
Please adhere to the following guidelines:
- Avoid making sudden movements to retrieve identification from your coat, towards your waistband, etc., until you have informed the officer of your intentions and the officer gives permission to do so.
- Do not carry weapons (real or otherwise), or joke about having a weapon on your person.
- Do not touch the police officer or violate their "personal" safety zone (3 to 4 feet).
Remain calm and avoid being argumentative. (If you are uncooperative and refuse to answer reasonable questions, the officer is likely to become suspicious and the encounter will probably last much longer than necessary.) Comply first, then you may seek an explanation from the officer at a later time.
There are times when citizens who have had a police contact come away with feelings of frustration or dissatisfaction. The police department does not condone misconduct of any type. In our experience, we have learned that those negative feelings are often a result of not knowing the reasons an officer has made certain requests or acted in a certain manner. Hopefully, the information provided in this document will give you an understanding of police procedures and what to expect if you are detained by a law enforcement professional.