EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSPolice Training Is Critical For Traffic Stops
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Katy Brown
Web Producer: Heath Harrison
Reported: Oct. 20, 2013 5:52 PM EDT
Updated: Oct. 20, 2013 9:58 PM EDT
South Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
A Nitro police officer is still on the job after a close call with gunfire last week.
Officer Timmy Jarrell made a routine traffic stop around 2 a.m. Tuesday along Interstate 64. As he started to approach the car he'd stopped, the driver started shooting at him. One of those shots hit Jarrell's patrol car and he fired back two shots, but the suspect took off.
Police have been looking for the suspect, who was driving a gray late 80s or 90s model mustang with no license plate.
Many have come in, but, so far, the driver or car hasn't been found.
This incident was certainly a close call for Jarrell and his police K-9 dog named Bullett, but it also raises questions about how drivers should respond during a traffic stop.
Before police officers ever put on a uniform, they go through a lot of training, and every bit of their education is critical, for not only your safety, but theirs as well, even if it's something as simple as pulling you over.
You never want to see flashing lights behind you, but, for police officers, pulling over drivers breaking the law is just part of the job every day.
South Charleston patrolwoman Nikki Rowe said learning to do a traffic stop the right way starts at the state police academy, long before you even take to the streets.
"They show us exactly how we should handle each situation,” Rowe said. “They go over a lot of scenarios, what we should and shouldn't do."
And early Tuesday morning, that training was put to the test for one local officer in Nitro.
While approaching a vehicle during a stop, Jarrell was shot at twice.
Luckily, his car mirror was the only thing that took a hit.
But it's a scary situation that can quickly become a reality for any police officer.
"You just have try to protect yourself and everyone around you,” Rowe said. “He did a really good job of getting out of the way, and doing what he could to get all the information out to other officers, so we could try to stop the vehicle before he did anything else to anybody else."
And took make sure she's prepared for whatever may happen, Rowe refers back to her police training often.
"We have to be sure to not be in what they call the kill zone,” she said. “When we approach the vehicle, the person in the vehicle, you have to pay attention to how many people are in the vehicle, what they're doing and you have to keep your eyes on the hands. There are just a lot of factors you just never know what's going to happen."
One trick of the trade, officers will usually touch the back of your vehicle, leaving their mark behind should the worst happen.
But no matter the unknown, there's only one goal in mind.
"We're not there to try to ruin your day,” Rowe said. “We're just trying to make sure everybody goes home safe at the end of the day."
Rowe also offered some tips for drivers.
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