As technology races
forward, it brings new questions and decisions for the road
officer. One of those questions is what to do when you're on a stop
and the driver goes to hand you his or her cell phone.
When this occurs, it usually means that the driver has someone on the
other end who he or she hopes is going to convince you not to issue a
ticket. But the question remains, do you take the phone?
with anything else, there are different schools of thought. Here's ours:
Motor vehicle stops are a very dangerous part of our job. They require
complete attention and concentration. They are unpredictable, never
routine, and we lose way too many officers each year in just this one
The driver and occupants have a tremendous amount of area with which to
conceal weapons and from which to launch an attack. And it takes only a
But the potential dangers aren't all inside the car.
Officers must be aware of passing traffic, the affect the stop is having
on the flow of traffic, any passing pedestrians, and even the actions of
people on porches for stops made in residential and inner-city areas.
the same time, the officers must still monitor the radio and what other
members of the squad are doing.
officer on a stop has to be mentally focused the entire time.
The action of accepting a cell phone and beginning a conversation breaks
all of the concentration. It exposes the officer to numerous risks and
breaks down the entire integrity of the stop. It flies in the face of
all tactical teachings.
Now, refusing to accept a cell phone will ruffle some feathers.
The person on the other end of the phone obviously feels he or she is
important enough to interrupt you in the middle of a motor vehicle
stop. Inevitably, it will be a politician, a business owner or even
one should be have enough clout to get themselves out of a ticket with a
phone call while they're still in the middle of the stop.
not abandon safety for courtesy.
Another consideration is the fact that taking a cell phone is about as
sanitary as using a public phone. This is especially true when the
driver is an informant trying to put you in touch with his or her
handler. Most informants are drug users or criminals themselves. Do you
really want to place your face against a surface on which they secrete
there is a compelling reason to speak to the person on the phone, they
can call you at your headquarters later in the shift. That practice has
worked fine for decades.
The other side of this, of course, is not to be, “that guy.”
you get a call from a friend, CI, squeeze, relative, or your spouse who
has been stopped, do not ask to speak to the officer. Deal with it
later. Don't put the officer in an awkward position.
Anyway, that's just our take. Use the comments box below to share your