AOH :: LVSTOPS.TXT|
Large Vehicle Stops - instructions for cops
LARGE VEHICLE STOPS
Standards and accepted procedures for vehicle stops
involving cars and other passenger vehicles are part of the
curriculum of most police training academies. But few address
the techniques to be followed when officers stop large vehicles,
such as tractor-trailers, utility vans, and buses. With the
increased use of these types of vehicles to transport drugs and
other contraband, officers find themselves stopping large
vehicles more frequently. To ensure maximum protection to
officers and individuals involved, the North Carolina Division
of Motor Vehicles Training Section developed a plan detailing the
mechanics for large vehicle stops.
As with stops involving passenger cars, the officer must
consider many different factors traffic, congestion,
pedestrians, road conditions, lighting, and the visibility of the
stopped vehicles to approaching traffic. However, large
vehicles require other special considerations, which are governed
by the size, type, and configuration of the vehicle, as well as
the number of officers available to assist at the stop location.
The officer must plan the stop to allow the driver sufficient
time and distance to make a safe stop at a location that provides
a paved and solid shoulder and enough area to pull the vehicle
well out of the flow of traffic.
POSITIONING THE PATROL VEHICLE
During the daylight hours, the patrol vehicle should be
offset at an angle with the rear of the vehicle and at least 20
feet behind it, with the patrol unit's wheels turned hard left.
This provides a traffic safety cushion, as well as offers the
officer more protection in case of any hostile acts from the
occupants of the stopped vehicle.
At night, the patrol vehicle should be offset to the left of
the stopped vehicle so as to allow the headlights to illuminate
the side and cab area.
With buses, the officers will need to position the patrol
unit in such a manner as to provide a view down the right side,
since this is where the doors on most buses are located.
APPROACHING THE VEHICLE
Because the drivers of large vehicles are several feet above
road surface, it is advisable to have the driver exit and walk to
the rear of the vehicle to be met there by the officer. This
allows the officer to remain in a safe location while removing
the ``high ground'' advantage of the driver.
The officer should ensure that the driver closes the cab
door to eliminate a traffic hazard. This also requires anyone in
the cab to open the door before exiting, thereby warning the
officer of the presence of another individual. Officers also
need to be watchful of cargo bays and should check to ensure that
each cargo door is closed.
If the vehicle has stopped in such a way that the front of
the vehicle is at an offset angle, then the officer may have to
exit the patrol car and move to the front of the stopped
vehicle. While walking the length of the vehicle, the officer
should use the vehicle's side mirror to observe the driver and
any activity in the cab. At no time should the officer climb
onto a cab.
When stopping a bus, the officer must remember that most
buses are built low to the ground, making the entire length of
the vehicle a ``danger'' area since there is no cover or escape
area. Also, with buses being built low, it is difficult for the
officer to check under the vehicle to determine if someone is
moving down the far side.
It is best that the officer maintain a secure position,
while having the driver approach the officer. The violator
should be advised of the reason for the stop and asked to produce
the necessary documentation. The driver should not be allowed to
return to the vehicle without being accompanied by the officer or
until the citation has been written.
CHECKING CARGO AREAS
If it is necessary to inspect the cargo area, the officer
should request backup prior to proceeding. The driver of the
vehicle should open the cargo doors and be the one who moves the
cargo around. After the cargo door is opened 4 to 6 inches, the
officer, standing 3 to 4 feet behind the driver, should sweep a
flashlight inside to check for other individuals who may be in
the cargo area. If it is clear, the officer can then instruct
the driver to open the door further and to lock it in an open
position. Inspection of the cargo area can then proceed
according to department policy.
Daily, patrol officers are making traffic stops involving
large vehicles. Each stop poses a potential danger. Therefore,
all patrol officers should receive training in the proper
procedures associated with stopping large vehicles.
ABOUT THE ARTICLE:
For more information concerning this subject or lesson plan
information, contact William D. Dean, Training Officer, North
Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, 1100 New Bern Ave., Raleigh,
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