Seeing the flashing lights of a police car in your rearview mirror can be a jarring endeavor. If a cop has ever pulled you over, you may have noticed that they touch the tail light or another part of the back of the car. This is actually a common practice by police officers during traffic stops, but why?
Reasons why police officers touch the back of a car after pulling over drivers
There are three reasons why cops touch the back of a car during a traffic stop:
- Make sure the trunk of a car is closed
- Leave fingerprint evidence to show that the police officer was present at the scene
- Drivers surprise in possession of prohibited items
Make sure the trunk of a car is closed
Although a rare occurrence, there is a possibility of someone hiding inside the trunk. They could jump out as the police officer approached the vehicle. To avoid this problem, a policeman touches the luggage to make sure it is closed and secured properly.
As reported by Click Orlando, Trueri Steve Montiero said, “When law enforcement officers conduct a traffic stop, there are many procedures that must be done, not only for the safety of the offender, but for the safety of that officer.” He continued, “The first reason is to make sure the trunk is closed. It might sound a little crazy, but you want to make sure that no one is going to jump out of the trunk and that it’s properly secured.”
Leave fingerprint evidence to show that the police were present at the scene
The second reason cops touch a taillight or other part of the back of a car after pulling someone over is to leave fingerprint evidence. This evidence proves that they were at the scene. If there has ever been a criminal investigation involving a driver and a police officer, the investigation may use fingerprints as evidence. Examples include investigations into a car accident or a shooting.
“Touching the back of the vehicle puts the officer’s fingerprints on that car, indicating that he or she was there with it,” said Trooper Montiero. “In the event that the driver decides to leave the scene, or if something happens to that officer, it ties the vehicle and the officer together. This is just one of the many things that happen during traffic stops to ensure everyone’s safety.”
Police officers touch the back of cars to scare off drivers who have banned items
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The third reason police officers touch taillights or another part of the back of cars during traffic stops is to scare drivers. During traffic stops, police officers face the risk of dangerous situations. This includes prohibited items, such as weapons, ammunition or illegal drugs. If a driver has prohibited items, he will likely want to hide them before the police officer approaches the window.
Touching the back of a car is one way to solve this problem. The driver may not cut the tap. Therefore, when it happens, the police will probably scare them. The driver will then stop for a moment. The momentary pause gives the police officer time to see if the driver is trying to hide anything.
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As detailed by the Law Dictionary, this surprising tactic has several proven benefits. This includes increasing the arrest of drunk drivers, dealers of illegal substances, people in possession of firearms without a license and other traffic-related offences.
If you ever get pulled over by a police officer, you can expect a tap on the back of your car. Touching a tail light or another part of the rear of a vehicle is not a random event. Cops do this for three reasons. This includes ensuring that luggage is locked, leaving fingerprint evidence and surprising drivers in possession of prohibited items.
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