Tactical question...night traffic stops

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by Agent6-3/8, Oct 10, 2012.

  1. How do you guys prefer to illuminate the vehicle you've stopped? In particular, I'd like to hear your thoughts on use of the spot light.

    I've long been taught to use it on all stops after dark. However, as long as I've used it I've noticed that it creates a very obvious shadow as one walks up to the vehicle on a typical driver side approach. This, in my mind does more harm that good.

    Thoughts on the matter?

    Posted from my iPhone 4s via Outdoor Hub mobile

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  3. Hit em with everything you have. Takedowns, spotlight etc.

    Try to use a passenger side approach on a couple of stops and see how you like it.

    Sent from my PKE meter.

  4. CLoft239

    CLoft239 I Like Turtles

    I light up every light I have, but I focus my spotlight on the driver's side sideview mirror. Blinds them really well (and normally pisses them off lol). I'll approach wide, then come in right behind their door. I normally stand right behind the opening point of their door, so that they have to maneuver uncomfortably to see me/speak to me. That in turn also keeps their eyes in the path of the light reflecting off their mirror. I also position my car in a "trooper stop angle " behind them, so the spotlight is able to hit their mirror without me obstructing it when I'm at their vehicle.

    I try not to establish any type of pattern as far as driver side/passenger side approach, because even with me working in a huge county, I still tend to make contact with some of the same people on a regular basis. I prefer they not know what I'm going to do each time.

    Sent from the Titanic. I named my phone "The Titanic" so when I plug it into the computer it says "The Titanic is syncing".
    #3 CLoft239, Oct 10, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2012
  5. collim1

    collim1 Shower Time!

    I center the spot light on the back windshield and turn the takedowns on. The takedowns on our cars put out a ton of light, but its not focused like the spot light. It really makes it difficult to see anything when looking at the patrol car from the front.

    The spotlights light up the inside of the car and make the rearview mirror useless. The takedowns flood the area with a really intense light making it difficult for the driver to see you if he tries to eyeball your approach.

    I also shine my flashlight in the side rearview mirror as I approach and often notice people shielding their eyes from the reflection in the mirror.

    Passenger side approach is great and I use it often when something doesn't feel right. The driver often jumps from being startled when I knock on the passenger window.

    If you have the option to turn the front flashing lights and wig wags off while leaving the rear lights on that really helps to hide your movements and not backlight you as bad.

    Me and a co-worker got bored just the other night and experimented with several different methods. Doing what I do above made it very difficult to see the officer on his approach.

    I also call my stops in before I activate my lights and initiate the stop. I dont waste any time getting up to the window. The less time they have to formulate a plan the better. I also dont slam my patrol car door shut when I exit, I dont want them having any clues as to where I am.
    #4 collim1, Oct 10, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2012
  6. Good info guys!

    Collim, I'll give the takedowns ad centering the spot light a try tomorrow night. Despite our cars having takedowns, no one seems to use them... Definitely agree about calling out the stops!

    As for the passenger side approach, the element of surprise is nice, but overall I haven't used it enough to get comfortable with it.

    Posted from my iPhone 4s via Outdoor Hub mobile
  7. CLoft239

    CLoft239 I Like Turtles

    +1 on this ^^

    Speed and silence are important IMO.

    Sent from the Titanic. I named my phone "The Titanic" so when I plug it into the computer it says "The Titanic is syncing".
  8. Takedowns, spotlight, and high-beams.

    I tend to aim the spotlight to light at the center of the passenger compartment, or at the back of the driver's seat.

    That way I see better, and the vehicle occupants aren't blinded, unless they turn around.

    Multiple bright lights also tend to wash out shadows.
    #7 OLY-M4gery, Oct 10, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2012
  9. Maximum illumination with no flashing lights facing forward [contingent upon location of the stop], an attention diversion, and a high power flashlight into the eyes of the driver. Passenger side flank approach was employed often, since I worked a rural area the final half of my time.

    When recontacting the driver, I always changed my approach to prevent prediction of tactics.
  10. razdog76

    razdog76 Heavy Mettle

    I use my overhead lights, and fix the spotlight on the driver side mirror, if there isn't one the the center mirror. As collim 1 indicated, I waste no time getting up there.

    I virtually always go to the rear of my cruiser and make a passenger side approach for several reasons which I have got to test with simunitions.

    1. You do not expose yourself to traffic on the roadway.
    2. You will not silhouette yourself.
    3. They will not know where you are, or when you will make contact. Even in the daylight, often enough I have to knock on the passenger door to let them know I am there.
    4. If things do go south, you have cover/concealment, and mobility on your side. At least with sims, seemed to work well even if the driver bailed and began shooting.

    *shoe polish is cheap*
  11. Takedowns, Spotlight, wig wags. I agree with Collim, I always call in the stop before I activate my lights. In PTO, I was trained to do it simultaneously, but I hated doing it when they short stopped or if someone else got on the radio that instant (which happens a lot) and now you're on a stop without calling it in (or you sit and wait and call it in, which is just as bad).

    I studied the maps for hours and when I got on my own, I called it in prior to stopping the car. Always worked out for me. If I had to update the location of the stop, so be it. At least I'd be within a block or so if it went bad and people could get to me.
  12. nikerret

    nikerret Mr. Awesome

    Vocal minority, here.

    I have worked midnights for over four years. When I started, I used the spotlight and take-downs. I found I prefer nothing but headlights and flashing lights.

    I work mostly rural with a City in the middle, unless I'm in the City, I'm in the dark. When I illuminate the whole area with my vehicle lights, the interior of the car has some nasty shadows that canonly be seen with my flashlight. It also messes up my night vision.

    When I run just flashing lights and headlights (sometimes, just parking lights), I can dissappear into the darkness easily and can see them well. What light is there, is pointing at them. With red and blue flashing led's, they can't track where I am, at all.

    I usually have them turn on their dome lights. This further helps my vision and inhibits theirs.

    I don't like the passenger side approach. No matter how you do it, you lose sight of what's going on in the vehicle or have to walk between the vehicles. With the CVPI, you can walk around the back, but with a top mounted lightbar, you have to look through the flashies=blind. With the Tahoe, I REALLY can't see through it.
  13. No wig-wags on stopped emergency vehicles.
  14. Kingarthurhk

    Kingarthurhk Isaiah 53:4-9

    I always like the flashlight in the driver's mirror. It always kills their night vision, and its hard for them to shoot what they can't see.

    I once pulled a vehicle that looked like a load, but didn't end up being a load. I spoke the occupants in the car. More than I wanted to deal with on a solo stop, and back up being far away. There ended up being nothing illegal about them; however, something was wrong. I got the, for lack of a better word, "violence vibe" once their night vision began to recover. So, I would sweep their faces with my flashlight and it took the agressive look of their faces, as they struggled to see. I concluded the stop, and left, in one piece.

    You can't underestimate the value of a good flashlight at night.
  15. Cochese

    Cochese Most mackinest
    1. The JBT's

    I'm getting our new cars setup with a flash pattern that employs a solid red/blue front and low intensity slow flash rear.

    After the car pulls over, turn that on and I use the stop light and takedowns depending on need.

    I always shut down the front flashing lights because it is a requirement here during SFSTs and is a distraction to incoming cars and me when I look back.
  16. nikerret

    nikerret Mr. Awesome

    I abhor wig-wags, at night.
  17. Bingo.

    It's a requirement wherever SFST's are performed.

    My car, a slick-top CVPI, has no forward facing emergency lights going in "mode 1", just sides and rear.

    I like it that way for several reasons.
  18. Kingarthurhk

    Kingarthurhk Isaiah 53:4-9

    Me too, they would screw up my vision as much as the other guys.
  19. I never liked solid burning red or red/blue lights on the front of a vehicle during the active [contact] portion of a traffic stop.

    Drunks and pharmaceutical abusers focus on them and the red light is an aggressive psychological trigger for some.
  20. Cav


    Headlights and Takedowns for most of my stops. Spotlight the rearview mirror and use a handheld on the side mirror if I feel there may be more to the stop. Driver or passenger side based on road/traffic/passangers. On midnights we tend to get another car in the area for most stops.
  21. 11A


    I always keep the emergency flashers on the whole stop; I don't have an choice as our division directives state that they shall be on for the duration of the stop. I put the spot light on the rear-view mirror, and then shine my flashlight in the driver side mirror.

    I don't generally use the passenger side approach on my initial approach because I'd the driver has a suspended operator's license the extraction of the driver gets tricky. I like to use passenger side approach on the reapproach to throw people off.

    I generally air the stop right before I light up the driver or as I am initiating the stop. I'm lucky enough to have backup available within 30-45 seconds at any given time, so if my spidey sense starts to go off I air for an additional car immediately.

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