What do I do if I am being pulled over by an officer and I feel unsafe at the location I am being stopped?

The traffic stop is one of the most dangerous tasks that an officer will do on a regular basis. Don't be offended by the way the officer comes up to your vehicle. You don't know them and they don't know you so they may take extra steps to ensure that both you and he/she are safe.

When stopped, pull over your vehicle in a safe location and turn the engine off. Approaching officers will typically be looking for any suspicious movements so it may be best to keep your hands on the streering wheel until the officer approaches.

The officer will probably ask you for your drivers license and your vehicle registration card. Under North Carolina law, a person operating a motor vehicle must identify himself or herself when requested by an officer (NC General Statute 20-29). If you have to look inside your glove box or console to find your license or registration, let the officer know that is where you keep these items.

The officer should explain to you the purpose for stopping you as well as what enforcement action, if any, they will take. If you do not agree with the officers decision to issue you a citation, the side of the road is not the place to have that discussion. If you feel that you are not guilty of the offense in which you are charged, you should make sure that you come to court on the date/time provided on the citation and discuss the case with the Assistant District Attorney or have your case heard in front of a judge. If you are angry, it is better to wait a few minutes before pulling off once the traffic stop is completed to make sure that you leave the side of the road and drive in an appropriate and safe manner.

Officers are required to be courteous and professional at all times. If you feel that an officer does not meet that standard, you should call and ask to speak to the officer's supervisor and file a complaint. The Garner Police issues in-car cameras to all our officers so the supervisor will be able to review the stop and take any appropriate disciplinary actions if your complaint if valid.

If you feel unsafe with the location you are being pulled over by an officer, you may use the following procedure to indicate your compliance with the stop and your intent to stop at a safer location:

1) Slow down.
2) Turn your interior light on if safe to do so.
3) Stop at the nearest spot that is well lit and safe to pull over.