When we go to our jobs the majority of us know what to expect – code to write, presentations to give, sales to make, fares to pick up, meetings to participate in, people to manage, food to prepare, etc. This knowledge of expectations gives us a certain level of security and safety in most cases equating to a manageable level of stress as we head to work.
It’s not the same as a police officer. Researchers use suicide, divorce and alcoholism rates as three key factors of stress in a group of people.
Consider these facts about police officers:
- They have one of the highest suicide rates in the nation, possibly the highest.
- They have a high divorce rate, about second in the nation.
- They are problem drinkers about twice as often as the general population.
It’s an understatement to say; police work is stressful.
Police officers receive a dispatcher call or initiate a traffic stop and almost immediately their defenses go up as well as their stress level. Traffic stops can be one of the most stressful events of a police officer’s duty.
It’s difficult to be on guard for your life and be friendly at that the same time. Especially in light of recent tragedies in Dallas with the ambush and shooting of 12 police officers and two civilians resulting in the deaths of five officers.
Following the Dallas shooting, police officers were ambushed and shot in the St. Louis suburb of Ballwin, Missouri and Valdosta, Georgia. Additionally, authorities in Tennessee reported a shooting by an Army veteran targeted cops.
Country Western singer, Coffey Anderson, has chosen to be part of the solution. He’s produced this helpful 4-minute video on how to conduct ourselves during a traffic stop with the goal for everyone – police and citizens to get home safely.
Other things to do during a traffic stop:
- Let the officer do most of the talking; don’t interrupt, don’t argue and be friendly.
- Tell the officer what you are going to do before you do each thing
- Only get out of your car if the police officer asks.
- At night, turn on the interior light.
- If there are passengers in the back seat, have them place their hands where the officer can easily see them.
- Pull over as quickly and safely as possible preferably in a public location; acknowledge the officer by waving or turning on your emergency blinkers.
- All of your movements in front of the officer should be done slowly and carefully; no sudden movements.
- Be respectful; call them officer, many police don’t like to called cops.
- Allow the officer to see your eyes; remove your sunglasses during the stop.
Remember your goal is to lower the officer’s defenses and fear so you can both make it home safely.