The Brookhaven College Police Department would like to offer these tips in the event you are stopped and/or questioned by a police officer. These tips are to give you an understanding of law enforcement concerns and practices to avoid any unnecessary confrontations or misunderstandings. This is meant to be just information, not legal advice. The goals of these tips are to improve police-community relations and avoid any unnecessary conflict or injury to the officer or the citizen. This information will hopefully reduce any stress that an encounter with a police officer might cause you and at the same time give you insight into the concerns and procedures of the officers.
Most citizens understand that law enforcement is a difficult and dangerous profession. Hundreds of police officers are killed each year, and thousands more are injured or assaulted in the line of duty. For these reasons, police officers tend to be extremely cautious. Officers place a great deal of emphasis on safety and are trained in specific safety procedures early in their careers. Although these procedures maximize safety for the officers, citizens might perceive them as the officer being standoffish, impolite or offensive, but that is not the intention. Even though you have no intention of harming the officer, the officer might maintain a defensive posture until he/she feels that there is no risk of harm or injury. As far as police officers are concerned, no traffic stop is ’routine;’ the potential for danger is always there.
If an officer is conducting a traffic stop and you are not in the vehicle that is being stopped, do not make contact with the officer in any way. A traffic stop already is dangerous for the officer and he/she needs to be able to focus on those in the vehicle. Distracting the officer only adds concerns for another person’s safety into what already may be a tense situation. Here are a few things that you should not do if you see an officer conducting a traffic stop.
If you are parked in a parking space that is being blocked by the traffic stop, please be patient. The officer will either notice you and move the police car or move the police car as soon as the stop is concluded.
Innocent individuals are often offended, angered, or both, because an officer stops them for questioning. The delay might be an inconvenience for you, but an officer will not stop you without the belief that there is reasonable suspicion to stop and question you. Most of these stops are not officer initiated, they are the result of an individual letting us know of an incident that occurred, or the officers are responding to a dispatch call. Below are some of the more common reasons an officer might stop and question you.
The officer does not wish to detain you longer than is necessary, and once it is determined you are not who he or she is looking for the officer will likely apologize for the inconvenience and quickly leave to resume the search.
We understand that contact with a police officer at times can cause a citizen to come away with feelings of frustration. The Brookhaven College Police Department does not condone police misconduct of any type. We understand that for most citizens the negative feelings they are left with after having contact with a police officer, stem from frustration of not knowing the reason the officer has made certain requests or acted in a particular manner towards them. Unfortunately, the demands of a police officer’s job do not always allow the time for an explanation at the time you are stopped. We hope that with this information you might gain a better understanding of police procedures, and it will help to reduce the stress or frustration you might be feeling after being stopped by a police officer.