You've seen the story over and over again: An officer makes a traffic stop, expecting it to be just a speeding ticket. Suddenly the suspect bolts from the car, gun in hand, and begins firing.
Sometimes the department never even finds a clear answer. The suspect just had a little marijuana on him. Why would he take such drastic measures?
Two weeks ago in New Jersey two rookies were performing a traffic stop when the suspect bolted out of his car, grabbed one of the officers' service weapon and shot both of them before fleeing.
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Dave Smith said it is all about intuition and keeping your warrior mentality during all traffic stops - even the ones that seem routine.
"You've got to be alert as to what is transpiring."
He said you should always trust your intuition. That is often the key to anticipating a suspect's next move. You know someone is not right if you find yourself thinking, "This is weird." Trust your instincts, they are usually right.
When you find yourself in a situation that is totally novel, call for back up. Noncompliance is always an excellent indicator of potential threats.
"If they refuse to comply that is further proof. Get backup in there," says Smith. "Science has proven that your intuition has a good chance of being right. If everything is okay you might be wrong, but if something is wrong your intuition will probably catch it.
"Don't approach. Some guys are willing to kill you over just some dope."
If you begin to feel wary when the suspects have already been called out of the vehicle, back away from the suspects and make themn come to you. Engaging in a distraction removal can also force them to focus on you rather than have time to signal each other or plan how they will escape.
No matter where the suspect is located be prepared to back out or quickly take a cover position.
And remember that these dangers are just as real for rural officers as they are for urban officers. Being in rural America definitely does not make you immune from attacks.
Stay safe out there.