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Explaining the traffic stop

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January 27, 2010

Explaining the traffic stop

Submitted by:
Matthew Aswegan
Prairie City PD, Iowa

I routinely stop vehicles for minor traffic violations such as license plate lights, third brake lights, less than 10 MPH over the speed limit, etc., especialy late at night. I have run into the issue of the violator getting upset with me over stopping them for such minor violations. In response to this issue, I have developed a standard speech that I give towards the end of such traffic stops. If the traffic stop ends with no serious violation discovered (DWI, drugs, suspended driver, etc.), I explain to the driver that they were stopped for a minor violation that would more than likely not result in a citation. However, I am out on patrol looking for intoxicated drivers, drivers without a valid license, unisured drivers, and so on. I explain to them that this makes the roads safe for legitamate, law abiding citizens, such as the person I am speaking with. Since I have implemented this, I have had several people express gratitude that I was out doing my job. I feel that spending these extra few seconds explaining our point of view, allows citizens to see our side of things. They will be less likely to be upset about the traffic stop.

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