All law enforcement officers are concerned with everyone’s safety. That is why they conduct traffic stops, which are where most civilian encounters with law enforcement take place. These traffics stops are nothing personal, they are simply about keeping people safe.
The Los Angeles Sherriff’s Department ask that everyone remain S.A.F.E. when they have been stopped.
Ask for permission to reach for something.
Follow instructions that are within your legal rights.
Exchange information that is within your legal rights.
By doing this during a traffic stop, you are not only making the officer’s job easier, you are keeping everybody, yourself and the officer, safe. While this acronym is from the LA Sherriff’s Department, all other law enforcement agencies would appreciate this approach to traffic stops.
It is incredibly important to remain safe and listen to the officer you are talking to, it is also important to know your rights.
Consensual Consent: This occurs when a deputy asks to speak with you, and you agree. If a deputy asks to speak to you, you don’t have to if you don’t want to. However, you need to remember that there is a difference between the officer asking to speak with you and demanding to speak with you.
Searching Personal Property: Without a warrant or sufficient legal reason, officers need a warrant to search through personal belongings. Officers may ask if they want to search through your things, and you can give them permission, give them limited permission, or refuse altogether. Even after you have given permission, you can take it back at any time.
Backseat Detention: This is when an officer places a person in the backseat of a patrol car without arresting that person. This often done because the person is a potential flight risk. It is also optional when you want privacy, personal safety, or shelter from the weather during a traffic stop.
Even if you did nothing wrong, you should always listen to law enforcement officers. It goes back to keeping things safe, for yourself and the officer. Law enforcement officers are here to keep everyone safe and they will be respectful, courteous, and professional when they talk to you, no matter the situation.