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  • question for those that do or have made traffic stops

    When I was in security at Naval Weapons Station Concord, the chief in the patrol division told his people "when making a traffic stop you should know if you are issuing a ticket before you exit your patrol vehicle"

    Making traffic stops wasn't my responsibility unless I wanted or felt it was warranted, as I was SOG and my forces responsibility was 26 miles of fence and 13,000 acres of munitions. But I disagreed with his approach. My opinion is it depends on the demeanor of the driver. I'm not going to ticket a nice person while letting a jerk go with a warning. I may ticket both, but it will be based on the whole situation.

    What's your opinion or practice?
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  • #2
    Originally posted by integrator97 View Post
    When I was in security at Naval Weapons Station Concord, the chief in the patrol division told his people "when making a traffic stop you should know if you are issuing a ticket before you exit your patrol vehicle"

    Making traffic stops wasn't my responsibility unless I wanted or felt it was warranted, as I was SOG and my forces responsibility was 26 miles of fence and 13,000 acres of munitions. But I disagreed with his approach. My opinion is it depends on the demeanor of the driver. I'm not going to ticket a nice person while letting a jerk go with a warning. I may ticket both, but it will be based on the whole situation.

    What's your opinion or practice?
    I was taught the exact same thing in the Academy. I don't do traffic stops now since my campus is in a business district, but did at the Campus I transfered from 11 months ago.

    I was taught the exact same thing in the Academy, except the instructor added "you can always remain flexible if the sitution changes or new information turns up".

    The reasons given were:

    -speed (the less time you are on the stop, the more violators you can stop, the less danger to you and the violators because you're not standing on the side of the road listening to an excuse or trying to make a decision ect ect)

    -making it stick (if you waffle the violator might think you are unsure, which makes them more likely to challenge the cite)

    And

    -You stopped them (ie you shouldn't stop someone if you're not willing to cite them in the 1st place).

    I always kept an open mind and wrote more warnings that cites, but what i was taught did make some sense.
    ~Black Caesar~
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    • #3
      When I patrolled at a gated community, we made traffic stops. I let all the fat and/or ugly women off because they never get a break.
      "Striking terrific terror in the hearts of criminals everywhere" Since 1977.

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      • #4
        I dont like writing tickets for the most part when I do traffic as an LEO. You really have to convince me that you need to have a traffic citation written. If anyone argues with me at the driver's door about their violation, instant cite, other than that, I'm usually pretty generous in handing out the warnings.
        "Alright guys listen up, ya'll have probably heard this before, Jackson vs. Securiplex corporation; I am a private security officer, I have no State or governmental authority. I stand as an ordinary citizen. I have no right to; detain, interrogate or otherwise interfere with your personal property-... basically all that means is I'm a cop."-Officer Ernie
        "The Curve" 1998

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        • #5
          It depended on the nature and circumstances of the violation as to whether I felt that a citation would be required regardless of any excuse the driver might give.

          Warnings do serve a purpose, depending on to whom, and why, they are given. So, I did not ignore their value nor did I consider them to be "nothing".

          Most departments (and/or officers) have at least an "unwritten" threshold for making traffic stops - for instance, 7 mph over, 10 mph over, how fast a "rolling stop" appeared to be, how close they were following "for conditions", etc., etc. These thresholds, to me, were not "ticketing thresholds", but thresholds for making the traffic stop, whether to ticket or to warn.

          Circumstances play a role, also. We had a school for the deaf in one community that I policed, and I enforced the speed limit in that zone very rigidly, for obvious reasons. 5 mph over was the max as far as I was concerned in that area. On the other hand, we also had a very broad major residential street (almost 4 lanes) where the speed limit was 25 mph, not because the conditions called for it but basically because the wealthy residents had the "pull" to resist the PD's efforts to have it increased to 30 mph. I gave a little more "cushion" in that speed zone because there simply were no extraordinary safety issues in play. You rarely even saw a pedestrian on that street, all the mansions were set back by a mile and traffic was very light almost all the time. When I stopped someone along that road for a "traffic violation" (follow anyone for a block or two and they'll usually commit some violation), it was because something was odd about them being in that area, and I actually wanted to find out what they were doing. We did have a significant problem with burglaries in that district.

          No warnings, obviously, for DUIs and violations contributing to traffic accidents.

          Bottom line:

          1. Sometimes you do know when you make the stop that you need to issue a citation. It depends on the nature of the offense and the circumstances. For some offenses, and under some circumstances, a citation will be the only proper response, so there's no purpose in humming and hawing around about it. Give the reason for the stop, get the DL, reg & insurance card, go back to your car and write the ticket while you run the driver & tags. Step back to the car, explain the procedure for paying or contesting the citation, get the violator's signature, stand by until he is safely out into the roadway again, and roll on.

          2. However, unless the situation demands a citation, warnings do serve a purpose when issued judiciously to people who you believe are likely to heed them. Talking with them for a few minutes is the only way you can know that. One clue, to me, was how they responded when I explained why their actions were unsafe and why I had stopped them. Did some of them fool me with their explanations and polite demeanor? Probably. It's not the end of the world if you give a warning to someone who "should" get a ticket.

          The issuance of a warning rather than taking an unnecessarily "hard-line" approach also serves to enhance the department's public image. The "hard-line" approach is usually not in the interest of either the public or the department and I doubt that it increases compliance by one bit over a more reasonable approach, either. Just being stopped typically scares the bejesus out of many law-abiding people, who have very little contact with the police. And, delaying someone long enough to run their ID, and in smaller communities their distress over maybe being seen "under arrest" (as they think of it) by someone they know, can have a very salutary effect on their driving for quite some time to come. Where the really bad drivers are concerned, not even a ticket will modify their driving once they get out of your sight.
          Last edited by SecTrainer; 11-07-2007, 11:48 AM.
          "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

          "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

          "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

          "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

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          • #6
            I too was never a big ticket writer. I felt it was the worst contacts I had with the general public. I would normally give warnings for violations that were not dangerous to other persons (including other drivers, pedestrians) on the road, and that were not so dangerous as to be reckless.

            As a side note, In 1987 I lead my department in felony arrests, drunk driving arrests, and some other category that I don't now recall. I was also a top three in some other categories. I, and several other officers, were given a luncheon by the department for our great work done. But, since I was only writing five or six tickets a month I was given a warning that I was not performing to department standards, and could be written up if it continues.

            I couldn't believe it. When my sgt. told me about it I told him I was going to have a talk with the commander (who issued the warning) about this. The sgt said he would come to back me up, and he did. (I was his best stat producer after all )

            When I met with the commander (who liked me, so that was not an issue, And I'm not stupid enough to blow up on him) I told him I was out producing most of the department. He told me he knew that, and knew I'd be in to see him. We talked about citations for awhile, and he ended up saying I'd have to write more, but would not tell me how many because you cannot set a mandatory number in my state. I told him I could just start writing all the drunk drivers I had been arresting a citation for the violation I had stopped them for insted of making an arrest.

            He smiled and then told me if I wrote 10 tickets a month I would not hear from him again about this issue. I did start to write the 10 tags, but I must admit that this situation really upset me with the department, and I never had stats like I had that year again.

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            • #7
              I only wrote lease violations, since a few of our properties made it a violation of the lease to operate a vehicle unsafely, or to violate any law or ordinance of the state.

              In this case, if I started a stop, you were getting a "ticket," or a trespass warning. I always looked at it like this. If I, as a private security guard/officer/agent/person had to stop your vehicle, then it was past the threshold of a warning.

              I would generally start a stop for "stupidity related offenses." And by that, I mean stuff that you know you shouldn't do. Doing 25 in a 10. Unlawful exhibition of speed (Burnouts and jackrabbit starts.) Driving on the wrong side of the marked lane road. Running stop signs.

              Unlike a state citation, getting enough of these meant you were going to be evicted. After a week of writing cites, the traffic problems on the property calmed down a lot. Normally, the property was unarmed, but the property management put in writing: WE DON'T CARE IF HE WILL ONLY WORK ARMED. SEND HIM OUT WITH HIS GUN. JUST SEND HIM HERE!

              It was a perfect example of enforcing state or local law as provisions of the lease to protect the safety of the residents, their visitors, and the client. As well as reduce the risk of liability to the management company and owners for failing to address dangerous violations of the lease and traffic code.

              It was fun times. By the time I was done, we were racking up enough calls for service to open yet another small police department.
              Some Kind of Commando Leader

              "Every time I see another crazy Florida post, I'm glad I don't work there." ~ Minneapolis Security on Florida Security Law

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              • #8
                Originally posted by bpdblue View Post
                As a side note, In 1987 I lead my department in felony arrests, drunk driving arrests, and some other category that I don't now recall. I was also a top three in some other categories. I, and several other officers, were given a luncheon by the department for our great work done. But, since I was only writing five or six tickets a month I was given a warning that I was not performing to department standards, and could be written up if it continues.
                I
                This is a sad, but not unusual, story. One nice thing about issuing warnings is that you're not tied up as long with the stop, and not tied up in court. This means that you can actually make MORE citizen contacts compared with an officer who insists on writing a citation every time. You will also have fewer citizen complaints to deal with, incidentally.

                Increased citizen contacts - assuming that you're paying attention to the contents of the vehicle, whether you're going to warn OR cite - can certainly add up to making more arrests for "felony contents", so to speak (weapons, drugs, contraband, etc.) simply because you're getting the opportunity to look inside more vehicles, at least on a "visual" basis...and it's amazing how many people will have "in-view" weapons, alcohol, pipes, etc.
                "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

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                • #9
                  I found that when you stop a driver for doing something stupid which could cause harm and make him or her sit there for up to 10 minutes while you politely discuss the advantages of being a sensible driver does the trick. County supervisors, duly elected by fellow citizens, may complain to your chief but quickly learn you don't play favorites.
                  Parents trying to maintain order, before the era of seat belts and booster seats, was one that you could address directly to the children that their father or mother trying to protect them was the reason they were stopped was a favorite of mine and maintain eye contact with each child and proved it worth. They moved from lane to lane without signalling or failure to come to a complete stop at the stop sign was caused by the parent involved with the child. We got calls from parents thanking us for the lecture to them as well as the child or children.
                  Enjoy the day,
                  Bill

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                  • #10
                    I'm not going to stop someone unless there doing something worthy of a ticket in the first place, or have a vehicle malfunction that they should be aware of that needs to be fixed.

                    I give allot of verbal warnings. When I do stop someone for something and they give me a stupid excuse I.E. just pull on there seatbelt then play me for an idiot (get's a ticket) as opposed to just being honest and saying 'no sir I didn't have it on' or 'Ahh sh*t I know better' guy, I'll more often then not, give them a break.

                    As far as speeding goes I am fairly lenient, 24 Km/H or lower over depending on the attitude I'll probably drop it it and give a verbal warning depending on the attitude. 25+ Km/H your getting a ticket because that is greatly exceeding the speed limit and a person should know better.

                    Bottom line is that I try to treat people as I would like to be treated my self, but I have been known to say in my own vehicle "this rig don't roll till the seatbelts click"...
                    I'm the guy you don't want to be around when your doing something wrong, but you can't wait for me to get there when your down, to fix you up...

                    If you don't stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them.

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                    • #11
                      I disagree with the "Im not stopping it unless its worthy of a ticket" idea. Unless you're a hardcore ticket writer. Just because it isn't worthy of a ticket doesn't mean it isnt unsafe.

                      I'll stop for seatbelts, lamps burnt out, +10 over the Speed Limit, Fail to Indicate lane change, failure to stop for a stop sign, etc...

                      But it doesnt necessarily mean I will cite for it, but on the flipside, it doesnt mean it doesnt need to be addressed with the driver.
                      "Alright guys listen up, ya'll have probably heard this before, Jackson vs. Securiplex corporation; I am a private security officer, I have no State or governmental authority. I stand as an ordinary citizen. I have no right to; detain, interrogate or otherwise interfere with your personal property-... basically all that means is I'm a cop."-Officer Ernie
                      "The Curve" 1998

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                      • #12
                        One agency that doesn't mess around is the Virginia State Police. If you are pulled over on I-95 for speeding, you WILL get a ticket.

                        Even if you are a police officer from another state, you WILL get a ticket in Virginia.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by wvd1979 View Post
                          One agency that doesn't mess around is the Virginia State Police. If you are pulled over on I-95 for speeding, you WILL get a ticket.

                          Even if you are a police officer from another state, you WILL get a ticket in Virginia.
                          I've generally observed that state/highway patrols are less likely to give warnings than other agencies. This is probably because, although they do other things, of course, they're primarily traffic cops who spend more time working horrific high-speed accidents and prying mangled bodies out of twisted metal than most other cops do, and I think this tends to give them more of a "zero tolerance" attitude about violations. I think you become somewhat immune to all the pitiful excuses people give you, too. The 17th time in one week that you hear a woman saying she's late to pick up her kids at school, you start to form this mental image of millions of mothers driving insanely around on the highways leaving death and destruction in their wake, and out comes the ticket book...

                          Also, I would imagine that to some extent such agencies probably tend to attract some people who get personal satisfaction from writing tickets all day (if you didn't, why would you voluntarily do this kind of work?), as well as the fact that the number of citations written IS one important measure of job performance in highway patrol agencies - even to the extent of giving recognition within the agency to officers who write the most tickets. (Yes, I do know this for a fact, although I'm not talking about "quotas" per se.) And, in a way, this makes sense. If other officers working the same area or zone average 140 citations a month and some other officer is getting 80, his supervisor would naturally be interested in the reason for the difference, even though "140" isn't really a "quota" in the sense of being a "mandatory minimum" or something like that.

                          Adding it all up, the tendency in these agencies is to write tickets, not warnings.
                          Last edited by SecTrainer; 09-13-2009, 01:33 AM.
                          "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                          "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                          "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                          "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

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                          • #14
                            integrator, a wonderful thing is happening here today ...

                            We agree.

                            A person's demeanor will dictate whether or not they drive away with a citation. I work as a non-union person at a place where we watch over union workers. Many times, they adopt the typical "eff-you" attitude, which doesn't promote much good will. Those that are more remorseful or understanding generally just get a talking-to and go on their way.

                            Good post though, and an important one for those of us who actually, for whatever reason, are asked to stop a client's agents/employees/residents.
                            Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done.
                            -- Peter Drucker

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by wvd1979 View Post
                              One agency that doesn't mess around is the Virginia State Police. If you are pulled over on I-95 for speeding, you WILL get a ticket.

                              Even if you are a police officer from another state, you WILL get a ticket in Virginia.
                              I've been pulled over numerous times in the Commonwealth of Virginia and have not received a single speeding ticket.
                              Washington DC

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