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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 >>>

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago


    This may be okay with a two officer unit but not a one officer unit. Having the driver on level ground eye to eye with you as opposed to sitting in a lower position evens the playing field too much on a one officer encounter. If there are multiple people in the car the one on one ratio outside the car allows the passengers to move about freely while you engage the driver. In California most agencies are a one officer unit. I have always found it best to approach from the passenger side. At night the people in the car are normally taken off guard. In either case the approach must be slow and tactical.

  • Ucsd_patch_sq90_max50


    over 7 years ago


    Just recently trained in this field for anyone in Tenn. Governors Highway Saftey course take it. Numourous methods (Stops course) You get into a traffic stop routine and for get officer saftey since the course have surprised many offenders on the different approaches

  • 1979_max50


    over 7 years ago


    It is a great option but remember that it is only an option and one should never get into any completely predictable manner in doing anything. Never make any assumptions and always be prepared for the world to go south in a big hurry as there WILL be times that this is just what will happen. How well you react to it and your response will determine how the day ends.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago


    i think this is a good tactical advantage because you really dont kno what your walking into on a traffic stop. i found myself in this situation the other day while i was on duty, but it has several suspect disavantages but i will have to give it a try.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 7 years ago

    i think this is a good tactical advantage because you really dont kno what your walking into on a traffic stop. i found myself in this situation the other day while i was on duty, but it has several suspect disavantages but i will have to give it a try.

  • 1-8-2001-32_max50


    over 7 years ago


    I have used this some when I worked graveyard patrol. I never thought of it as a "technique", but I felt really good doing it on the "right" stops. Those vehicles with windows too dark to count passengers....this is a good idea. Who cares about plain view when it's your safety at stake?

  • Im000503_max50


    over 7 years ago


    I think this is uiet a tactical advantage to take the subjects out of thier element. I have not used this method yet, but I go on night sift tonight so i will try it and see what happens.

  • New-patch_max50


    over 7 years ago


    I don't think this would ever work in a big city like New York. The people stopped are just to combative. You would end up with a problem on every stop if you had everyone getting out of the car and walking to you. I see it as unnecessary confrontation. I want to approach the car and get a look. If I want the driver and passengers out, I'll make that decision after evaluating the situation. No way I am pulling every person I stop out of their car.

  • 001_max50


    over 7 years ago


    I have been in law enforcement for 11 years and have been an instructor and FTO for 3 years. I teach this method to officers just a bit different. This a great method, I use it daily and encourage other officers to try it. This method also keeps you away from traffic which we all know is another danger we face out on traffic stops.

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    over 7 years ago


    Those who have never used it nor seen it used find it difficult to mentally picture. I could put together a video and email it during my down time in Iraq. LOL For those of you who worry about mutltiple suspects and cover officers, I can address that no problem. Liability issues with citizens being pulled out of the car. I see first off that you have to pick and choose where to stop someone. If it has to be immediate, then have them drive under your perview to a better local. Nothing says you can't have a person move a car to a better place for you and them!!! Trust me, this will work anyplace, any city, any time. You just have to be opened minded and apply some common sense's not perfect, but hey, notihng is!!! I agree with some others that's it just another tool on how to do things. AGain, go into officer saftery & down, look at traffic stop thread started by LawDawgTrav and you'll see how I explain a good bit of it.

  • Kodiak_b_fulface_3288_471_max50


    over 7 years ago


    One more tool for the tool belt. Use it when it's appropriate, and use a different tactic when it's not. Above all, BE SAFE!

  • Kodiak_b_fulface_3288_471_max50


    over 7 years ago


    One more tool for the tool belt. Use it when it's appropriate, and use a different tactic when it's not. Above all, BE SAFE!

  • Remember_max50_max50


    over 7 years ago


    This is nothing new.. we used a combination of all of these techniques
    For example.. as one man units we stop cars with multiple subjects in them all the time
    It is impossible to get backup on all traffic stops within a reasonable amount of time... in a busy shift if you are a hard working copper in the city it would be easy to shake 10 cars an hour.... probably 10000 motorists pass you in that time... as a rural copper you might only see a handful of cars in your entire shift

    One technique I used for "shakin scrotes" was to bring them out of the car one at a time back to me.. pat them down.. and handcuff them to a telephone pole.. that way they were almost no direct threat to me... I was still stopping a car with multiple suspects in it but I neutralized them one at a time on my own terms

    The technique of calling people back has to be blended with other techniques to be flexible. No one technique works all the time in the safest manner. The call back technique also has potential huge civil liability (welcome to sue crazy California) for an officer if we direct a citizen to do something and they get hurt or killed because of our direction. Every second in a uniform can be measured in potential litigation balanced with what keeps us alive
    There is another technique.. slightly off subject that is valuable as well...
    Short story
    I had just been transferred from Firestone to West Hollywood. My third night out I was put in a one man car, I was working Sunset Blvd... 100000 cars per hour, 400k people in 2.1 square miles. I saw a pickup with three cons in it,, they gave me the "aw shit" look we have all seen.. its the universal "dont look at me please Mr Policeman we are a nefarious criminals doing evil and wicked things" look we have all seen 10,000 times.. they make a couple of fast turns on me into residential neighborhoods while I caught up.. obviously trying to get away.
    I violated a cardinal rule of policework... I lost where I was EXACTLY... but being young and aggressive I made the stop. They were acting hinky in the truck so I requested backup to my location.. well ,, my general location, as I didnt know exactly where I was and no citizen wandered by to perhaps tell young and dumb me.

    I began an approach and all my senses lit up.. these assholes want to kill me... it was all 6th sense no actual immediate threat.. other than I knew they were cons. As I got to the rear of the pickup I stopped (yes off course my gun was out as it was on most traffic stops),,, I could see they were baiting me to come forward,, the driver stating he couldn't hear me. So.. I told them I was a k9 unit and that my dog was deployed.. I immediately saw them straighten up and begin whispering. If I tell you all I did a pretty good impression of a GSD growling you might laugh,, but I did.

    So.. I called them back one at a time,, all the while giving commands to my phantom dog.. I handcuffed them and put them in the radiocar.... at this point our helicopter had found my rooftop number and units were getting close. When I hooked the first con he told me .. "we thought you didnt have a dog but we weren't sure and I didnt want to get bit"

    As my backup unit arrived to watch my now prisoners I began the car search. Under the center passenger seat area was a sawed off pro made 12 ga... and the right pass seat was a sawed off 410.. ski masks

    These were all 3 strikers,, in a later interview by detectives they confessed to doing 211's. More importantly to having a prior plan to kill any police that stopped them by making quick evasive moves throwing off the copper. They had also planned to draw and officer in by responding unintelligibly to his questions.. which makes a person naturally want to move closer. The driver would engage and the center passenger would lean over use the window sill and fire point blank, They told the detective they had actually practiced it several times. They went onto say that when I didnt approach they didnt know what to do,, The dog ruse absolutely threw them off and they didnt know how to respond other than charging me.. but once the driver was out they lost advantage

    I made some really bad tactical decisions in this instance.. it all worked out.. weve all been there

    I bark pretty well.. well enough to have suspects come out on containments using the P.A. when no actual K9 was there...go ahead.. laugh

  • Auguste_gusteau_max50


    over 7 years ago


    New tactics are always welcome, but I see some flaws in this you are now putting the driver of the vehicle in a position of danger, what if he/she slips and falls into traffic... can you say lawsuit, maybe even charges of voluntary manslaughter. You put the guy in that position that you should have known could reasonably lead to death.
    With this tactic you may be so busy watching your suspect that the other three guys in the car have a tactical advantage on you, whereas if the driver/passengers are all still together in the car it is easier to watch them.
    Dont get me wrong this approach does have its advantages in some cases. I say it is like any other tactic, it has its time and place to be used, and also has its time and place not to be use. The more tactics we have to utilize the better we are and the safer we become.

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    over 7 years ago


    Like bsmedmpa, i've been using this tactic for 8 years. That's the way i was taught and that's what i teach. I'll never approach a vehicle because i was also taught a "plus one rule". The "plus one rule" is that no matter how many people you see you always add one, for officer safety. This is the one that is laying down waiting for you to approach so he/she can get you. I didn't read the full tactic that they were describing, but me personally, i stand behind my drivers door until they approach and are in place in front of my bumber. Then i approach and stay in an area next to the windshield. If i have them walk back to their vehicle for any reason, without them looking, i'll back up behind my vehicle as they are walking to theirs and position myself to the rear of my vehicle, on the passenger side. They never expect you to change positions. When i see their hands are clear as they begin their approach back to me, i'll reposition myself where i was. If i am on the interstate, i stay on the passenger side. Honestly, how many videos have you seen where the officer gets shot with this technique compared to the walk up approach? I personally have seen none. And with me, unless i have back up, NOBODY else gets out of that vehicle except the driver. And if they insist, H&K USP .45 will be looking at them get back in the car. I work for a small town that has to play the political game. But when it comes to officer safety, we don't play around or take slack from anyone. Sure we get fussed at by our Chief, but we also go home at the end of the day!

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