Tip: Have an 'exit' strategy on vehicle stops

ADJUST TO THE ENVIRONMENT

Lt. Dan Marcou has a column “SWAT Officer” over at www.policeone.com and in his latest post “Have and Exit Strategy on Vehicle Stops” he offers some great tips in keeping the street cop safe and more effective on the street while conducting vehicle stops. Always remember the deadly mix of officer, offender and circumstances when you interact and accord with an adversary and to focus on what’s important from start to finish, so stay oriented and adjust to the environment. Bellow are some tips from LT Dan:

There is one moment when every officer should couple the knowledge and experience of the veteran with the hyper-vigilance of the rookie just out of the academy. That oft-repeated moment is when a driver or occupant exits the vehicle — expectedly or unexpectedly — during a vehicle contact.

The vigilant officer will not miss:

1. Furtive movements (reaching for or disposing of something.)
2. Whispered (or foreign language) discussion with other occupants.
3. A suspect who reaches for gears instead of door handle.
4. A wallet tossed back into the vehicle.
5. Any hands suddenly disappearing from view during the process.
6. A suspect scanning the area for witnesses or an avenue of escape.
7. Readjusting clothing to conceal a weapon.
8. A tap lightly to an area to make sure the weapon or contraband is still there and concealed.
9. An unsteady step possibly caused by impairment.
10. A delayed exit on command.
11. An unsolicited exit.
12. “I might kill you,” body language.
13. The initiation of a sudden assault!
14. Feel free to add more in comments.

Every time the door opens (yours or theirs) on a vehicle contact it should have the same effect on a street officer as the bell has on a prize fighter. You may not get up swinging, but should be alert, in a defensible position, on guard and fully prepared to defend yourself.

Be careful out there and for every exit, have an exit strategy.