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Police and Law Enforcement Home  >  The Column  >  What to Do When a Driver Hands You a Cell Phone
 

The Column



NJLawman.com

Police and Law Enforcement News
Wednesday, January 29, 2013
  12:52 a.m.


 

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?

As with anything else, there are different schools of thought. Here's ours: no way.

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 activity.

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 second.

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.

At the same time, the officers must still monitor the radio and what other members of the squad are doing.

An 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 another cop.

Too bad.

No 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.

Do 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 sweat?

If 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.”

If 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 thoughts.

-NJLawman.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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