Pulling a car over is sometimes a necessity, but Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department deputies know the stress related to one goes both ways. A traffic stop can be about something you did wrong like speeding, but it could also be just to bring attention to an issue you may have not known about before it happened. Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski understands pulling someone over might make a bad day worse for some people, but it is entering an unknown for his deputies.
Joski advises motorists to drive to a safe spot, stay in the car, have your information ready, and be honest with the responding deputy when you are pulled over. We have more information about proper traffic stop protocol posted online with this story.
FROM SHERIFF MATT JOSKI
One of the most recognizable interactions law enforcement has with its community is typically through the everyday traffic stop. These opportunities for interaction occur for a variety of reasons, but all have the same goals in mind; the safety of you as an individual, the safety of the community and the safety of the officer conducting the stop.
It is a common misconception that when you see the red and blues in your rear view mirror you are about to have a negative experience resulting in two things, a fine, and/or demerit points to your license. This is not always the case as there are many reasons why law enforcement may make contact with you at any given time. A possible reason could be related to an equipment defect such as a headlamp or taillight out, or one of many other vehicle equipment components which are required for safe operation on the road. Another reason for being pulled over could be to provide emergency notification of a possible hazard or danger in the immediate area. The point is that regardless of the reason, our primary purpose for making traffic stops is educational or informational. If you are doing greater than the posted speed limit, our goal is to educate. This may done through a verbal or written warning or it may be facilitated through a citation if the violation warrants it. Again our goal is not revenue generation, or monthly stats. As a local agency we gain very little revenue from any of the fines or fees that are assessed in traffic tickets. Also, the number of traffic stops or tickets are not a factor in the evaluation of an officer here at the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Depatrment.
What is common in any traffic stop is the risk they pose to all of those in the immediate area. This is due to the fact that the law enforcement squad along with the vehicle are temporarily stopped alongside other traffic which continues to flow. We try to minimize this risk by conducting traffic stops in the safest way possible. This means that we choose the most opportune location which allows the officer to exit their vehicle and remain as safe as possible as well as to create as much space for the vehicle being stopped to prevent harm to them and their passengers. This is one of the reasons we always ask that the motorist stays in their vehicle. If by chance another motorist is not paying attention and strikes the vehicles which are stopped, the safest place for the driver of the stopped vehicle is in their vehicle. Another reason we ask that people stay in their vehicle is to minimize the risk to the officer. While most traffic stops occur without incident, the number of officers killed or injured while conducting a traffic stop is a serious concern. Regardless of what you may be stopped for, your response should always be the same. Have you license, registration and insurance information ready when the officer arrives at your window. Keep your movements to a minimum, and if possible keep your hands on the steering wheel as the offers approaches. Although this may seem intimidating, try to place yourself in the officer’s shoes of approaching a vehicle not knowing who is in the vehicle or if they wish to do the them harm.
Although you may not agree with the outcome of the traffic stop, please respect the decision of the officer and know that their goal is keeping our communities safe. If you feel there are mitigating circumstances to the behavior which led to the citation, please feel free to take that up on the court date that is provided on the citation. While leniency may not always be possible, professionalism on the part of the officer is. I receive many calls from individuals who were not happy about getting a ticket, and my question to them is always not whether or not they felt they deserved the ticket, but rather was the Officer respectful during the contact. I am always proud and never surprised when the answer is that they were treated with respect.
Just as like to tell students; Law Enforcement’s role is much like that of teachers. Our subject is traffic law, our classroom is the traffic stop and your homework is to drive safe. Let’s all try to be “Straight A” students of motor vehicle operation.