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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
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    Default What are Standard Procedures at a Traffic Stop

    My question involves police conduct in the State of: Texas

    I realize that with only knowing one side of a story that I can only get "theories" about how things could/should happen ... but I would like some insight so that I can try to help my son understand what happened, why it happened, what he should have done differently, and how he should handle any similar situation in the future.

    He was recently pulled over for a traffic stop about 1:30 pm, after what turned out to be an officer, in his personal vehicle, had tried to pull him over, and he was not comfortable doing so. My son did not initially know that the driver behind him was a law enforcement officer, did not know why the man was tail-gating him, and he narrowly escaped being rear-ended by the officer when an issue in the traffic in front of him created a problem. Another driver unexpectedly, crossed three lanes of traffic in an unsafe manner, causing a problem for numerous other drivers, including my son.

    As soon as a clearly marked, official vehicle was in the area and the other officer indicated that he needed to pull over, he immediately complied.

    The officer who had been following him approached his car and attempted to open the door (which was locked). He commenced yelling profanities at my son and ordered him to get out of the car. As soon as my son opened the door to get out, the officer grabbed him by the arm, dragged him out of the car, hand-cuffed him, asked his name and what he was doing there, turned his pockets inside out, took his wallet from his pocket, removed his DL and insurance card, counted his money (why?) and continued verbally abusing him as he asked additional questions.

    Since my son had previously called me to let me know what had been going on, and I had already cautioned him about being cooperative, I do believe that he was cooperative. He was attempting to exit the car when demanded, yet wasn't given the opportunity to do so on his own.

    When all was said and done, the stop lasted about 12 minutes, an arrest was not made and citations were not issued. The call slip detail from their CAD system, that I was able to obtain, indicated that the call was cleared with a disposition of his having been given a "warning."

    My specific questions are:

    *Is it typical for an officer in his personal vehicle to be attempting to make a traffic stop (especially when he is out of his normal area)?

    *When a uniformed person in a personal vehicle attempts to pull someone over, are citizens (in Texas) required to pull over for them in the same manner as they would if they were driving a clearly, official vehicle?

    *When in doubt about the legitimacy of a uniformed individual trying to make a traffic stop what is the proper procedure?

    *Assuming the citizen has a cell phone, do they call 911 to let someone know that they are concerned about the identity (or behavior) of the individual driving a personal vehicle and attempting to pull them over? Or do they call 411 and allow the operator to transfer them to the nearest agency?

    *Might there be any additional documentation related to that stop that we could obtain through an Open Records Request? (Apparently there is no audio/video ... but would there be an additional report by either of the officers explaining the justification for the "stop and frisk?")

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Typical Standard Procedures at Traffic Stop

    was there ever any justification given for pulling your son over?

  3. #3
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    Jun 2010
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    Default Re: Typical Standard Procedures at Traffic Stop

    Quote Quoting jk
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    was there ever any justification given for pulling your son over?
    The officer accused him of driving recklessly and said that my son had "cut him off." My son is unaware of having cut him off, and was very detailed in his explaining the sequence of events when he told me about the situation. Since his first awareness of this other driver was after having checked for clearance and making a lane change (and suddenly the guy was on his tail) the officer may have been in a blind spot, and my son just did not see him.

    Other than that, the only thing that may have been perceived as reckless was when my son was trying to avoid a potential accident in front of him, when another driver suddenly crossed over three lanes of traffic. After those first few minutes, the officer followed my son for about five miles before there was a marked vehicle available to pull him over. According to my son, there were no additional incidents of any kind (other than the officer following him too closely) during that five mile drive. He kept his speed within the speed limit and did not make any sudden moves.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Typical Standard Procedures at Traffic Stop

    545.421. FLEEING OR ATTEMPTING TO ELUDE POLICE OFFICER;
    OFFENSE. (a) A person commits an offense if the person operates a
    motor vehicle and wilfully fails or refuses to bring the vehicle to
    a stop or flees, or attempts to elude, a pursuing police vehicle
    when given a visual or audible signal to bring the vehicle to a
    stop.
    (b) A signal under this section that is given by a police
    officer pursuing a vehicle may be by hand, voice, emergency light,
    or siren. The officer giving the signal must be in uniform and
    prominently display the officer's badge of office.
    The officer's
    vehicle must be appropriately marked as an official police vehicle.



    Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.
    while that may not be the only statute involved, this does lead me to believe that your son had no duty to pull over for an unmarked car. As such, the proper thing for him to do would be to call 911 immediately. If the off duty officer had a radio in his car or on him, which, due to the marked car response I would guess he did, he might be known to the 911 operator and the operator could have informed your son that it was in fact a police officer.

    Since the car being marked is one of the requirements to be able to to charged for fleeing or eluding, I believe the officers response was way out of line.

    So, the question is: do you want to do something with this or are you only trying to find out how things should have transpired?

  5. #5
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    California
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    Default Re: Typical Standard Procedures at Traffic Stop

    Okay, so what we are left with is a potential personnel complaint and MAYBE some form of civil liability by the officer.

    So, your son can make a complaint to the officer's agency and he can consult an attorney to see if there is any civil claim to be made here. At the very least if the officer was out of line, the agency should be made aware of the problem.
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Typical Standard Procedures at Traffic Stop

    Quote Quoting jk
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    So, the question is: do you want to do something with this or are you only trying to find out how things should have transpired?
    Thank you for finding the statute for me. Even though we had previously gotten mixed information about whether or not he was supposed to have pulled over for the officer who was driving a personal vehicle, I feel more confident that my son was not wrong to have continued driving.

    What's disturbing is that a representative with one agency said that he absolutely should not have stopped for the unmarked vehicle, and a representative from another agency said that if the officer was in uniform, that he should have stopped.

    Since the officer threatened him with hauling him off to jail, but didn't because he didn't have time to f**k with him, and that he "had two years to file these charges" but didn't specify what those charges would have been, I have been uncomfortable with my son pursuing anything, until we know what his rights were and if he could be charged for not pulling over. To add insult to injury, he told him that if he ever saw him in the area again, he would haul his a$$ off to jail.

    Immediately after the incident, my son called the local PD and got phone numbers for the two agencies that could have been (and were involved). He was told verbally who the officers were and which agencies they worked for. He contacted the supervisor of the officer who dragged him out of his car and told him that he wanted to file a complaint.

    After he told the supervisor his side of the story, he was told that he could come in right then and talk to the two of them and settle this and be done with it. Or ... he could go downtown to internal affairs, file a complaint and take a polygraph. My son immediately pounced on the option of going to internal affairs and taking a polygraph, but it was too late in the day to pursue it. The next day, he didn't want to think about it and has since continued to put it off. If I (and he) were confident that there would be no retaliation for filing the complaint with internal affairs, he might choose to pursue it.

    My husband and I had previously told my son that we would prefer that he talk to an attorney before he filed an official complaint with internal affairs, and that we would help him with the attorney fees. If there is something to go on here, I would be happy to encourage my son to pursue it. Whether he will or not, is a different matter.

    Quote Quoting cdwjava
    View Post
    At the very least if the officer was out of line, the agency should be made aware of the problem.
    As mentioned in my response to JK, my son had contacted the officer's supervisor and made a verbal complaint, on the phone. However, he has not gone in to formalize this complaint. At least, we know that the supervisor is aware of the situation. Whether he takes any action based upon the informal report, I don't know. I would at least like to know that the supervisor talked with the officer about proper policies and procedures.

    All I obtained with an Open Records request of the first agency (for the officer who officially pulled him over) was the CAD detail record. It doesn't even identify the other officer by name, (even though my son was given the name on the phone) just the agency that he is with and that he was out on call with the officer who actually pulled him over. I don't really understand that comment on the report, as he was definitely not "out on call" with her. But, perhaps I just don't understand what they mean by being out on call with someone.

    However, considering that he actually hand-cuffed and searched my son, shouldn't there be some type of report that he filled out for his agency? Is that something that we might also be able to get our hands on with an Open Records request?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Typical Standard Procedures at Traffic Stop

    there is no reason for him to take a polygraph. If he wants to file a complaint, he can file a complaint. I would not normally consider legal action but if you get continual BS from these people, I would suggest he might want to speak with an attorney that deals with civil rights violations.

    while things happen and often there is an underlying justification (even if it is incorrect), I can see it as excusable. You seem to be faced with everybody simply adding to the injury. While it would be a simple act for them to accept a complaint, they seem to be forcing unnecessary and unjustified acts upon your son in attempting to do so.

    You might consider contacting the ACLU as well.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Typical Standard Procedures at Traffic Stop

    The level of documentation involved in an incident will vary by agency. It is nice if some report is written when any physical restraints are applied, but it is not required.

    As for the entry on a CAD log, understand that those are very simple and often not indicative of much more than standard jargon that is either boilerplate or built in to the software. In my agency we have two types of activities in our CAD: Observed and Radio. Anything that is the result of a dispatched call for assistance, a phone call, etc., is going to be listed as a Radio call. If the officer initiated the contact, then it will be listed as Observed. The agency that made the stop here might have a similar practice or policy.

    It is very possible that no written documentation exists beyond the CAD log.

    And I would be very leery of going in for a polygraph ... if he committed any act of speeding, reckless driving, or even cutting off the off duty officer, he might end up admitting to that in the polygraph. If he truly and honestly believes he did no such thing, then he can certainly go in and do it, but I strongly suspect that they will ask him questions about his own guilt or innocence on the surrounding issues if he does so because they will have direct bearing on his credibility.
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

  9. #9
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    Mar 2009
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    Key West, FL
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    Default Re: Typical Standard Procedures at Traffic Stop

    A police officer, off-duty, in a personal vehicle can't pull someone over for a traffic offense, to the best of my knowledge.

    If he grabbed your son and pulled him from the car, that would be battery. Putting him in handcuffs for a traffic offense is false imprisonment. That officer has some serious anger issues that need to be addressed.

    You say the officer was out of his area. Are you saying he was out of his jurisdiction? Then he would doubly not have any traffic jurisdiction.

    The off-duty officer should have called for a marked police car to make the traffic stop. Of course he didn't do that because there was probably no legal reason to make a traffic stop.

    I would make a formal complaint to internal affairs. There can be no requirement that a complaint requires a polygraph test

    The polygraph is not a risk. Nobody can be charged with a traffic offense that is not witnessed by a police officer. Nobody can be charged with a crime of any sort based upon a polygraph result. Polygraph tests are NOT admissible in court and thus form no basis whatsoever for any probable cause.
    They are typically used to help clarify evidence or exclude people. They are also used to intimidate people to make them go away.

    A traffic offense would NOT justify the conduct of the officer in any case.

    If your community or area has a Citizens Review Board, your son should make a complaint to them too.

  10. #10
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    Jun 2010
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    Default Re: Typical Standard Procedures at Traffic Stop

    Thank you both for your feedback ... I will caution my son regarding agreeing to a polygraph, if he carries this any further.

    Considering that this officer had a personal issue with my son, wouldn't it have been more appropriate for him to allow the officer in the marked vehicle be the one who interacted with my son? It seems to me that he would have placed himself at less risk of being reported for misconduct if he had taken a step back and let someone else who was not already angry deal with the situation.

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