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Each day across the country, at least one officer is injured or killed during a traffic stop or while driving a patrol car, making traffic incidences the most dangerous events encountered by law enforcement officers. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty every 57 hours.

It is evident that law enforcement officers are at significant risk during roadside traffic stops. In order to address this problem, there must be an understanding of threats officers encounter during these stops.

1. Struck By Passing Vehicle: There have been several efforts, such as the "Move-Over Law," requiring drivers to merge over one lane when passing emergency and public safety vehicles on the roadside in order to protect officers, emergency personnel and Department of Transportation workers. Severe fines are also imposed for speeding in construction and work zones. Regardless, the number of officers and other public servants killed on the roadside has not declined over the past decade.

2. Injured or Killed When Approaching Traffic Law Violator: Until an officer has run a violator’s driver’s license and/or vehicle tag information, he or she cannot be certain if a suspect driver is dangerous. Law enforcement officers are taught to remove the word “routine” from traffic stops and treat every stop as if there is a potential danger. With so many one-officer patrol cars on duty in the United States, officers must exercise caution with every stop.

An example of this danger occurred with the recent shooting of two officers in Brooklyn, New York. These officers stopped a vehicle for a traffic violation and were both shot multiple times when they approached the vehicle. One officer survived; the other lost his life. Law enforcement officers are at risk during every traffic stop and they must be equipped with the necessary tools to reduce this risk.

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