Strengthening The Citizen and Law Enforcement Partnership at The Traffic Stop: Professionalism is a Two-Way Street
Traffic Stops Are Dangerous
What Can You Do?
Building better community relations is still one of the primary concerns of law enforcement throughout the country. That is why every action by a law enforcement officer has a bearing on the relationship of the agency with the community. Since most citizens come into contact with law enforcement officers at traffic stops, this becomes a critical element for law enforcement agencies in their overall public relations effort. A good way to look at traffic stops is, building bridges to the community…one traffic stop at a time.
Traffic stops are a two-way communications system that operates much like a telephone. Each end of the line has a transmitter to send messages and a device to receive messages. The parties at either end of the line alternatively talk and listen. In this process, the officer and the citizen can discuss and exchange their views in order to bring about mutual understanding.
From the first day in the law enforcement academy to daily roll call, law enforcement officers are trained in every aspect of their jobs for which agencies have developed standard policies and procedures. Conducting professional traffic stops is no different than any other aspect of the officer’s job.
There are some best practices for officers. These practices should be discussed with law enforcement supervisors and officers within your agency and used to form guidelines for improved professionalism and courtesy at traffic stops. This publication is not intended or designed to countermand officer discretion, or agencys’ policies or procedures.
There are also some traffic enforcement messages that should be communicated to the public in printed public information materials, face-to-face presentations with community groups and schools, interviews with the media, training videotapes, etc. These messages could be included in driver education courses, driver improvement programs, or printed in the state’s driver license manual.
We hope that this guide assists law enforcement agencies to build bridges to the community, one traffic stop at a time.