Report Library

Maintain Situational Awareness on “Routine” Traffic Stops

Event Summary

I made a traffic stop of a local resident and determined subject had an active warrant for his arrest. While attempting to make the arrest, I was so zoned in on the subject, I placed myself with my back to the highway. Subject was compliant, but upon reviewing dash cam video following a very courageous conversation from a fellow officer, I realized all the subject would have had to do was push me and I would have been pushed into oncoming traffic.

 

Lessons Learned

  • Recognize there can be multiple threats to your safety, including environmental, and process them all while engaged with a subject. This may require prioritizing threats and adjusting your tactics.
  • Never turn your back on traffic; it’s often your biggest threat.
Changes as a result of that experience (what would you do differently?):
  • Better instruction and observation of officer safety and observation of environment.
  • Remain mentally capable to deal with multiple threats while engaged in an enforcement activity.

 

Full Report

Maintain Situational Awareness on “Routine” Traffic Stops

 

 

Employer Information

 

Type of law enforcement agency: Police Department

 

Involved Person Info

 

Role: Sworn Officer

Years of experience in law enforcement: 3 – 5 years

 

Incident Information

 

Type of call / Reason for response: Traffic Stop

Incident Initiated by: Self-initiated

Please classify this incident (Check all that apply): Almost resulted in officer injury or fatality

Number of officers on scene: 2

Incident Summary:

I made a traffic stop of a local resident and determined subject had an active warrant for his arrest. While attempting to make the arrest, I was so zoned in on the subject, I placed myself with my back to the highway. Subject was compliant, but upon reviewing dash cam video following a very courageous conversation from a fellow officer, I realized all the subject would have had to do was push me and I would have been pushed into oncoming traffic.

 

Location Information

 

What type of location was this? Road/Street/Highway

Environmental conditions: Outdoor – Daytime

 

Lessons Learned

 

Please describe what type of accident or incident was averted:

I could have been killed by oncoming traffic.

What were the contributing factors that almost led to or did lead to serious injury or death?

  • Proximity to roadway
  • Lack of situational awareness

Describe the lessons learned:

  • Recognize there can be multiple threats to your safety, including environmental, and process them all while engaged with a subject. This may require prioritizing threats and adjusting your tactics.
  • Never turn your back on traffic; it’s often your biggest threat.
Changes as a result of that experience (what would you do differently?):
  • Better instruction and observation of officer safety and observation of environment.
  • Remain mentally capable to deal with multiple threats while engaged in an enforcement activity.



How relevant are the lessons learned in this incident to you and/or your agency?
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