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Safe Driver Call Backs

Richard B. Weinblatt

Everyone who’s been in the popo business for any amount of time knows that the two most dangerous activities law enforcement officers engage in are (I’ll give you a moment to guess)… domestic disturbances and traffic stops. With traffic stops, you just don’t know whom you are stopping. The person could be an emotionally disturbed person (the politically correct phrase for a crazy psycho type), a bank robber, or a little old lady on the way to church. You just don’t know.

Traditionally, police academies and employing law enforcement agencies have taught the driver’s side approach. Slowly, the passenger side approach has also been broached. Now there’s a new trend afoot in the traffic stop lexicon.

The driver call-back, or no approach, is gaining traction as officers come to grips with the dangers of roadside traffic stops. Many progressive law enforcers, such as the 1,500 sworn patrol deputy sheriffs of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Orlando, FL, now use this approach.

By the way this is not be confused with calling the driver back while you are firmly ensconced in the driver’s seat. This is a lazy and dangerous way of doing a driver call-back that I would never advocate.

The safer (notice it is “safer” as nothing in this business is safe or a guarantee) approach involves calling the driver back and changing positions to have a tactical advantage.

There are many advantages to using this tactic. Here are a few of them:

1) Divide and conquer. By calling the driver or occupants back to your marked vehicle, you have taken away any strength in numbers advantage that they might have had otherwise. If you had approached their vehicle, you would be confronting all of them together.

2) Sizing up. Bringing them back to your world allows you to assess them before walking into uncharted waters.

3) Distance from Weapons. When you call the driver back, you remove him or her from the proximity of any weapons that he or she may have stashed in the passenger compartment.

More on call back techniques >>>

  • American_flag_eagle_max50


    over 4 years ago


    This is a southern technique. It has a lot of merrit and should be taught so that we have another tool for the tool belt, but It will be a long time before it is used up north.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    This is great stuff, this technique could be safer.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago


    There is nothing new about this technique. I work for the agency (OCSO) mentioned in the article and was taught this technique in the academy back in 1986 (no age wisecracks). This technique has not changed anything about traffic stops from a legal standpoint. As for the technique itself, it can be modified so never get in the frame of mind that it's the only way. You DO NOT step in between the two vehicles as some have mentioned in their comments if you do this techniqe properly. No matter what technique you use the thing that will always trouble me the most is to watch my "brothers" and "sisters" who sit in their vehicles completely clueless to their surroundings while they write the ticket. If your one of those please please stop! If not for yourself do it for your loved ones. God bless all who serve.

  • 100_1682_max50


    over 7 years ago


    I agree with SMW4747...

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago


    With our great legal system, what will happen when you bring the violator out of the vehicle. Does this become a seizure of the person? Are they no longer free to leave as with the exigent circumstances for a warrant less search.When I am working my K9 partner on a vehicle I want everyone inside the car so I only have to worry about him and my back up officer worries about the vehicle and its occupants.

    My only concern with bringing the subject out of the vehicle is the lawful detention time that the Supreme Court has defined for k9 searches.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago


    Great option. Where the violator stops has a great deal to do with the officer's approach method.

  • Policelinkbadge_max160_max160_max160_max50_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Officer saftey wise this is a good way to make contacts. Comunity Policing wise, the use of a PA or shouting commands is a negative. Depends on your department I guess. My policy uses the Aniquated 7 Step Violator Contact, which causes alot less hostility on most stops, but can get you hurt in the very few stops where someone wants to cause you harm.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago


    A tool to use prehaps with a two person unit. However to much time and too much walking back to vehicle for proof of financial respsonbility and /or registration documents. Why wait to call in vehicle indentifiers, those should have already been called prior to traffic stop along with the location. Traffic being what it is as of lately... seems a greater number of violators are pulling to the left?? (what's up with that move?) or just completely stopping in the traffic lane.. There are too many variables of Officer safety concerns. Again it is a tool and each traffic stop as all Traffic Enforcement Officers (should) know is not routine

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago

    Good article and video. I was taught the driver call back stop in the academy and have used it successfully more then a few times. I think it works well, but like others have said it is just another tool in our aresenal to use on traffic stops. Each stop presents its own challenges, so what works on one may not be the best for another. Evaluate each one and do what you think is appropriate (and legal of course) to go home at the end of your shift.

    Stay safe out there everyone.

  • 0001_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Interesting pro's and con's already covered by others. One thing not mentioned - when using PA to call back the driver, remember (if a single mic system) to switch back to radio immediately after the call back - just in case you need the radio for an officer assistance call - doesn't help much to be calling 11-99 (or whatever) over the PA.

    I shudder when I think back to how we were trained to do vehicle stops in the UK in the late seventies - we were in compact vehicles (Ford Escort 4cyl 1100cc) as patrol cars, with a single blue light in the center of the roof. We had to pass the vehicle to be stopped, and flash a red rear-facing "POLICE - STOP" sign on the roof under the blue light, and then rely on where we stopped and they stopped for positioning. We then had to walk back, at night in the glare of their headlights, and often they would be getting out and walking towards us! Of course, we were comfortable knowing that we were 'armed' with our trusty fourteen inch rosewood truncheon if we got into trouble! Ah - the 'good ol' days'!

  • Img014_max50


    over 7 years ago


    I have used a method close to this before it works well and does take the driver out of their comfort zone and puts them more in your comfort zone.

  • Tony_a_max50


    over 7 years ago


    In 39 years on the job, I have had occasion to use this method - usually when I was riding with a partner and there were more than one occupants of the vehicle. The idea was "divide and conquer". However, one officer patrol at night with a "loaded" vehicle becomes problematic. Keen observation, experience and good instincts must all be put into play before ddeciding how to approach or call back. As with most of our job, the situation dictatees the methodology. There is no "one size fits all' in this job. The key is to go home at the end of yuour shift. For this reason, I recommend using whatever method gives you the most confidence, based upon the situation. When I was with the City of Miami, one of our motor officers stopped a little old lade for a stop sign violation. When he walked up to the driver's sided door, she pulled a .25 cal. smi-auto and began firing. He dove for the asphalt under herr door, reached up and was able to grab the firearm from her hand. Her explanation? "I though you were going to shoot me!" You just never know! Be safe out there!

  • M_86704a988893dfb095b88804c7a6c491_max50


    over 7 years ago


    I am one who makes many traffic stops. I have yet to find a “routine” stop. I might approach from the driver’s side or the passenger side depending on the feeling I have or the location of the stop. EVERY traffic stop is a serious event and should be dealt with in that manner. My hats off to those who study these types if issues in attempt to help us go home at the end of our shift.

  • Pict0004_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Not to comfortable in “driver call back” technique. Too much freedom for the driver……..then after you get their ID……..have them go back to the car to get registration and insurance info????? Are they also going to grab their handgun or weapon when the go back to the car since they also sized you up???????? I don’t know about it……..sorry.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago

    It depends on time of day and location dictating which side I approach on. If I am uncomfortable in general, I may not even approach, but get behind the light curtain and have the violator come back to my patrol car.

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