Traffic stops; Police protocol and what you need to know

SAVANNAH, Ga. – “Sir, can I ask you a question. And he was like, “what’s up”? Why did you have your hand on your gun when you approached my car? And he told me because that’s protocol for a police officer,” Roddy White, a former NFL football player, said.

Former Atlanta Falcon Roddy White claimed in a lengthy Twitter post Wednesday afternoon that he was pulled over in Georgia for expired tags and speeding, but that’s not what upset him.

“So, I said for a routine traffic stop for a speeding ticket? It’s protocol for you to get out of your car and put your hand on your weapon and come walk to someone’s car? And he told me “yeah, that police protocol”, White said.

News 3’s Devin Negrete decided to investigate on the protocol Georgia law enforcers use. We reached out to one of WSAV’s experts asking the same question white did.

“Some officers will do it,” Gerry Long, WSAV’s crime expert, said. “Some who might be really great tactically can do that within milli seconds.”

Long, who worked in the force for years, said police do this as a precaution because they don’t know the person in the vehicle.

“Officers are certainly cautious. Not necessarily overly so, but extremely cautious when they have encounters with citizens, because they literally do not know who that person is what to expect, what they might have done,” Long said. “An officer, as they approach the car are going to be looking inside to see whether you’re moving around, whether you’re trying to conceal something. So they’re paying attention to that. Even though it’s a routine traffic stop for an expired tag you do not know who is behind the wheel of that car.”

So we asked what could be done to avoid a confrontation altogether.

“Be cooperative. The encounter should be short term if you’ve done nothing wrong or if it’s a simple traffic violation,” Long said. “That will be resolved rather quickly and you should be able to go on your way.”

Experts say the biggest thing to remember is no matter race or ethnicity — that stop is a two way street.

“It’s an equal measure,” Long said. “You know, don’t take a circumstance where you have an encounter with a police officer that you are automatically going to assume that it is going to be a negative encounter.”

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