Ask a Cop?: Procedure

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Question:

Is it protocol for an officer, after stopping someone for a traffic violation, to pull them out of the car and ask them lots of questions not pertaining to the stop. Also, why do most officers attempt to ID passengers of the vehicle of that stop when they have committed no violations.

Answer:

It would help if you explained what some of the questions were the officer was asking.

If an officer doesn’t have suspicions during a basic traffic violation stop, they usually do not pull someone from the vehicle to ask unrelated questions. Usually it is when the officer sees or suspects something, smells alcohol or marijuana, or suspects the driver or passenger may be wanted. Sometime if working a high crime or drug area, they might ask where the driver was coming from or where they are going. If they pull over a vehicle leaving an area of a crime such as a burglary or shots fired, they may ask the driver to exit the vehicle for their own safety and to ask questions. There are lots of reasons an officer may ask a driver to exit a vehicle and ask questions, but it usually does not happen unless the officer has  suspicions of something more.

As for asking the ID of a passenger, it’s usually for the officer’s safety. You may know who is in your car but the officer doesn’t. The person may have warrants or be wanted for something. I once pulled over a car and when I ran the passenger for warrants, he had a murder warrant for his arrest. It’s not uncommon for an officer to ask the ID of passengers in a car.

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