EDITORIAL: When stopped by police, stay in your car

We received some correspondence recently from a reader concerned about his treatment by police after being pulled over for a traffic violation.

When pulled over, he “jumped out” of his vehicle, to which the RCMP demanded he return to his vehicle immediately. Our reader felt the police overstepped their boundaries by demanding that he return to, and remain in, his car until instructed otherwise.

Our reader thought that legally, he was under no obligation to follow RCMP instructions.

That is false. According to Sec 123 of the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act he could get a ticket for failure to obey police direction.

Even if it were his right, there are times when doing something strictly because you are legally entitled to do it is not the most prudent action to take. Jumping out of a car in an aggressive manner during a traffic stop would constitute one such situation.

Though they seem innocuous to most, traffic stops are ranked as one of the most dangerous things a police officer can conduct. Most times, the officer has no idea who he or she is pulling over, their state of mind, whether they are armed, or whether they are dangerous. By “jumping out” of a vehicle, it exacerbates the situation.

Our reader said he felt threatened by the police, who allegedly claimed they “could have shot him.”

He was rightfully upset at hearing that, which is what triggered the correspondence.

He is correct in saying that, considering he ws unarmed, had he been shot, the police officer would have been in the wrong.

But he’d be critically injured, if not dead, so everyone loses.

Not everyone likes the police, and most people who don’t have a long list of incidents, which, in their minds, justify their feelings.

Like them or not, most people can agree that policing is an unenviable and dangerous career. It involves split-second decisions that can forever alter their lives, and the lives of others.

Whether or not it is intentional, it is never a good idea to bait an officer into making a drastic decision.

At best, you can fight it in court.

At worst, you leave your next of kin to do the fighting on your behalf.

–Terry Farrell

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