Do’s and Don’ts of Traffic Stops

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Anger over a traffic stop in Texas brings questions to the Tri-State.

The story of Sandra Bland’s death is being told across the country. A Texas State Trooper is under the microscope for conduct during a traffic stop two weeks ago.

Now, it’s how that Trooper handled a stop, and how Bland responded, that’s raising questions.

“There is no such thing as a routine stop,” Officer Michael Hathaway, with Owensboro Police Department says.

“I don’t know who’s in the vehicle and I don’t know what they may have done or are about to do.”

Hathaway has learned to expect the unexpected. Every traffic stop, a new adventure that can sometimes turn violent.

That’s what happened between Bland and Trooper Brian Encinia.

“Get out of the car now or I’m gonna remove you,” he says.

Bland was stopped for failure to signal, and Encinia asked her to put out her cigarette. When Bland refused, the situation escalated.

“I am gonna drag you out of here,” says Encinia, “I will light you up!” he says, drawing his taser.

The dash cam video and struggle afterward has ignited a debate about what could have been avoided.

Hathaway breaks it down, saying officers are watching the driver for sudden movements.

“We don’t want to have a lot of movement going on inside your vehicle as we’re approaching, because to us, that’s a little bit suspicious.”

Hathaway says officers may ask people to exit their vehicle even without first telling them why,” but it “depends what the reason for the stop is.”

Planning for the best, preparing for the worst is what Hathaway, and all law enforcement officers do.

“You got to understand, as we’re approaching the vehicle, we don’t really know who you are or what’s going on inside the vehicle,” he says, “Complacency will kill.”

For tips and a demo from I.S.P. on what to do when you’re pulled over, click here.

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