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Ask a Cop
Scared of the Police
after Traffic Stop

Q. I travel alone everyday and recently was pulled over for a speeding issue. I was scared to death as the police officers (2) went on both sides of my car and opened their jackets to reveal their weapons.

I was not asked to get out of my car but need to know in the future if I am ever stopped again do I have to get out of my car? Do I have the right to request a non police witness of my choice be summoned to the scene before I get out of my car?

I am a 51 year old nurse and drive an older model car and to be quite frank am now extremely scared of police officers. I am scared to the point that if a crime were to happen in my home I don't know who I would call.

Please advise me of my rights especially the "getting out of my car" issue. Thank you.


A. Scared. The reason one officer was on one side and the other on the passenger side of your car is for THEIR safety.

Traffic stops are very dangerous to officers. They didn't "show you the guns", they were getting their jackets out of the way, just in case they needed to get to them.

Police officers never REALLY know who is driving a car they've stopped. A good officer relies on his training on approaching the car, which is the most dangerous part of he stop.

A PROFESIONAL OFICER, should, remain professionally friendly with the person he has stopped. You were not asked to get out of the car, because you are safer in the car without exposing yourself to traffic.

If you are stopped for speeding and clocked by radar or laser, you can always ask to see your speed on the machine. The officer must then make a decision on what is the safest for himself and you.

The officer has YOUR safety in mind First. Stopping another motorist as a "witness" is not realistic or safe. Keep in mind the news footage of a car plowing into the back of a police car on a traffic stop.

You can always request the officer's supervisor come to the scene if they are available. Just remember the cop has to make the decision to keep himself safe and determine what is the safest for you.

Just remember, you can always ask the cop questions or for clarifications if you do not understand what he has asked you to do.

It does no good to argue or debate the reason for the stop. Thatís what the court is for.

And keep in mind that even though you are a nice person, not everyone they stop is like you and the cop really just wants to go home at the end of his shift to the wife and kids.

So, be professional in your demeanor and you will be treated in the same manner. Because just like in your own profession there is the "official" you and the off duty you. Show your "official side and relax.

No cop is out to hurt you - unlike nurses who lurk around waiting to stab an unsuspecting patient with a horrible needle.

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Mike Doley

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