Public Safety

What Should You Do When Stopped by Alexandria Police?

City of Alexandria Police Department
At the recent community meeting in the Arlandria neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, Police Chief Earl Cook took a number of questions on what citizens rights were when interacting with the police.

Today, Fairfax County Police put out this guide (w/ video) which summarizes many of the same answers Chief Chook gave at the meeting.

Ever wonder what to do if you get pulled over? Come, ride along with us on a virtual traffic stop. We’ll familiarize you with what to expect because everyone’s safety is our primary goal:

  • We will introduce ourselves, explain why you’ve been stopped and provide direction throughout to make the interaction as smooth and brief as possible.
  • Traffic stops are potentially dangerous situations for us. Are you a soccer mom/dad, just trying to get to work or practice or a wanted felon?
  • When you see those flashing blue lights behind you, pull over to a safe location. It could be the nearest shoulder, turn lane or parking lot. Try to get your vehicle completely out of the travel lanes.
  • We may approach from either side, depending on the location and other safety considerations.
  • Remain in your vehicle, we recommend keep your hands in view and minimize your movements. We may become alarmed if you or a passenger shifts or moves around a lot. Are you just looking for your license and registration? Or are you hiding/reaching for something illegal?
  • Police impersonators are out there. If you have doubts, find a bright and/or populated place to pull over. Turn on your four-way hazard lights to acknowledge the officer as you look for a safe and public location. You can also call 9-1-1 to report the stop or verify the person is actually a police officer.
  • Don’t be alarmed if you see another officer pull up. We often show up to check on each other, especially at night.

If you are issued a summons, you are required by law to sign it. It is not an admission of guilt and you have the right to contest the charge in court. Instructions are provided on the summons. Failure to sign could result in you being arrested and brought before a magistrate.

One thing not mentioned here is that Chief Cook said, in Alexandria, you can ask for a Supervisor to come to the traffic stop if you have questions about the stop or if you are unsure if the officer is actually a police officer.

(Photo by Cliff, on Flickr)

Lee Hernly, Editor
the authorLee Hernly, Editor
Founder & Editor
Lee Hernly is the Founder and Editor of Port City Wire, Alexandria, Virginia's best source for hyper-local news, opinion, and events. I live in the Old Town Alexandria area with my fantastic wife and son Sam. Oh, there’s Serena & Bea too. I’m so excited to meet new readers and see where you are from! Please be sure to leave a comment with a link to your blog so I can check it out!

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