Traffic cops shouldn't carry guns

This may sound like a radical proposal, but I don’t think traffic cops should routinely carry guns. They can wear bullet proof vests, and carry tasers to protect themselves. In the rare cases that they do need a gun, they could have it stowed away inside their vehicles instead of carrying it on their person, and if they need armed backup they can of course call for it. This would reduce the chances of fatal encounters between law enforcement and civilians.

It isn’t the officer’s chest that appears at the driver’s side window.
it is the officer’s face.

Yeah, this is one I can’t get behind. Traffic stops are the most dangerous. You never know what you’ve got in the car.

Now, training officers not to shoot so many innocent people, that I can get behind. That should be a given.

Is there some sort of weapon that will severely incapacitate, but not kill?

I do not think they should not carry guns, but they should only be used in self-defense, not for enforcement. If someone is going to run away, let them. You can always track them down later and have a better chance of de-escalating things by calling-in experts. Go ahead and enhance sentences for those who run, but no one unarmed should have to die for having expired tags or a burned-out blinker, who happened to panic while encountering traffic cops.

Isn’t part of the reason for “panic” on the part of the suspect, is because the officer is armed? Doesn’t the very fact that they carry guns in the first place to a routine traffic stop amount to an unnecessary escalation of tensions?

Agreed. I think having a firearm in the car is a good compromise. Just have them carry tasers while going up to cars to ask for their info. I also agree with @snowthx - if they are going to run away let them. You have many ways to track them down with modern technology.

6 officers were killed while conducting traffic stops.

Not exactly without any danger, but your post seems to make is sound much more than it is.

Personally, I say forget the cop entirely. Use drones. You get pulled over by a cop in a car, and they send a drone up to facetime with you.

If you shoot the drone, well, you shot a drone, big deal. If the cop is not in a position to be in danger, then they don’t need to be quick on the draw.

Then perhaps they should end the practice of traffic stops.

Traffic stops don’t actually make traffic any safer, they are primarily just a revenue generator and tool for oppressing brown people.

I think that traffic stops are used too much as revenue generators or as ways of interfering with people going about their day, but not all are.

I have no problem with them stopping someone suspected of DUI, or someone driving otherwise unsafely. That is supposed to be the point of it, after all, to promote road safety.

But yeah, stopping someone for going 5-10 over, or in a recent well publicized case, 5 under, is just harassment.

Agree. If someone is observed breaking some traffic law, go ahead and pull them over. No one should ever be stopped for having expired tags. The cops will be much more safe and successful in enforcing registration by checking parked cars at the grocery store and the airport and leaving tickets on the windshield, for example.

This thread’s premise is a little faulty in that most cops aren’t “traffic cops”, most police officers do traffic enforcement along with a long list of other things they are required to do: respond to 911 calls, serve warrants etc. There are some agencies that are big enough they have specifically tasked traffic enforcement only police, and there are some agencies (like State Highway Patrols) that do overwhelmingly focus on traffic stops (even that isn’t universal though.)

It does seem to me that a holstered weapon is all-around unhelpful in a routine traffic stop.

If a LEO already has reason to believe that someone is dangerous, obviously they will wait for backup and only approach the car (if at all) with a weapon already drawn, that’s not the situation we’re considering here.

In a routine stop, if a driver unexpectedly pulls a gun, just for his own safety I would think the LEO’s reaction should be to just move, to get himself out of the line of fire, not to try to pull is own weapon and shoot the driver before the driver can shoot him. When the shooter is confined in a car, it’s easier to move to a position of relative temporary safety out of the immediate line of fire. The other obvious advantage of this strategy is that if the gun turns out to be a cell phone or a wallet, the driver is still alive.

Perhaps some kind of transparent shield with a slit to speak through offer better protection for a LEO approaching a car than a holstered weapon? And perhaps make the LEO a lot less trigger happy if a non-violent driver just does something stupid like grabbing for his wallet that fell under the seat.

Probably, but anything that stops bullets is going to be heavy. And I’m not sure that it’s any less intimidating to be carrying a big riot shield up for a traffic stop.

I’ve heard this before, but if you have this policy aren’t you giving the greenlight for the most dangerous criminals to just mash the gas pedal and get away? If I get pulled over for a burned out bulb, I’ll stop, get my ticket and go on my way.

If I have ten kilos of cocaine, four machineguns, and a dead body in the trunk, I might as well mash it, knowing for a fact that the cops will not chase me. Even if they somehow catch me later, it is much better to get a fleeing citation than to have them catch me with that stuff. Even for more minor things, like I am drunk and do not want to get a DUI, it creates an incentive for me to drive faster and more reckless while drunk so as to elude the police. Further, the evidence of intoxication is forever lost.

Presumably, then to enforce the bulb ticket or the fleeing ticket, the police will have to show up at my house with more cops and even more guns: a far more dangerous and escalating situation.

With this, there is the arbitrary limit problem. Let’s say I agree with you and we lobby to have a bill passed which forbids the police from pulling someone over for exceeding the speed limit by 10mph or less. What about 11mph? How long before someone says, “Sheesh, that’s ridiculous, 1mph slower and he couldn’t have been pulled over!” ?

Altho that is sadly true, traffic stops are one of the main ways cops catch many bad guys. They find a warrant out, guns or drugs in the car, etc.

I proposed this same thing, that traffic cops would be like Constables in England- baton, mace, maybe even a taser and a vest. But my cop friends said the traffic stops are a major crime fighting tool,

Umm, then the perp just gets out of their car.

Of course, if you are that person, then you also have a gun on you, and the cop that pulls you over is one of the 6 that get shot. The cop would have been better off letting you go on your way.

No, being chased by the cop gives you an incentive to drive faster and more reckless.

Or a piece of mail.

And if they for some reason believe that you are a danger, then yes, they can go in prepared, as opposed to asking a cop to treat every traffic stop as though it is a potential SWAT situation.

The speed limit already is an arbitrary limit. Rather than enforce those arbitrary limits, enforce actual unsafe practices.

You don’t need to be pulled over in order to receive a ticket.