Officer Matthew Chism recently became the 97
th officer this year to be killed in the line of duty. He was shot at a traffic stop.
According to a recent study, traffic stops are the
leading cause of death for peace officers nationwide. An officer is killed in this manner every
53 hours. During the previous decade, 118 officers were killed during
traffic stops, compared with 74 fatalities during disturbance calls and
82 during domestic violence complaints.
The FBI is focusing on better training for officers during traffic stops,
and encouraging them to focus on their work even when the situation appears routine.
Most of us cannot conceive of a job that can become deadly at almost any
moment. The closest thing may be a convenience store clerk or a bank teller,
but fatal events at these places are almost unheard of, even during an
When you're in a hole in Fresno, the first thing you need to do is
stop digging. Never, ever make a bad situation worse by causing problems
for the officer at a traffic stop. It's easy to get caught up in the
frustration of getting a ticket without realizing that you are dealing
with a police officer who has a very tough job that requires putting his
safety at risk every day. When you put yourself in the officers' shoes,
even if you disagree with him on the reason for the stop, you will find
yourself behaving in a manner that will oftentimes help you avoid a ticket,
or a harsher charge on the ticket.
As soon as you see the flashing lights, turn on your hazards and slow down.
Pull over at the first available opportunity. Put the car in park and
turn off the ignition. If you're pulled over at night or in low-light
conditions, turn on the dome light. Roll down the driver's side window,
put your hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2, and sit still.
The officer will probably still give you a ticket, but the situation will
be much less stressful for everyone involved. After the stop, speak to
an attorney practicing in Bakersfield to fight your ticket in court, or
at least get the fine and/or points reduced.