Community

Published on July 28th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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TRAFFIC STOPS – WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE PULLED OVER

Sheriff Leon Lott stated that law enforcement officers are responsible for maintaining public order and safety; sworn to protect ALL citizens. The Sheriff stated that your Richland County Deputies patrol the County enforcing the law, preventing, detecting, and investigating criminal activity. The Sheriff stated that education is a huge key in reducing and preventing crime and plays a big role in being proactive; so the tips provided here are designed to assist in ensuring your safety as well as the safety of deputies.

The Sheriff stated that there are a lot of misconceptions about seeing lights and sirens (during traffic stops) and how one should act in the event you are stopped by law enforcement. Sheriff Leon Lott asks that you be respectful and follow the directions given if you are pulled over – even if you don’t agree with the reason for the stop; on the side of the road is not the place to dispute the stop. You will have an opportunity to tell your side of the story in court if you choose. Additionally, the Sheriff states that he takes the professionalism of his deputies very seriously and expects them to be courteous but firm when enforcing the law; but if you are concerned about what actions a deputy takes you should report it to the Sheriff’s Department so that the Department and Citizen’s Advisory Council can review it.

Sheriff Leon Lott would like you to be aware of what you should do if you see lights behind you:
· Immediately pull over to the nearest right-hand edge or curb of the roadway.
· Pull your car over as close as possible to the curb of the roadway and stay clear of any intersections.
· Stop and remain in such position until the authorized emergency vehicle has either passed or wait for the deputy to approach your car.

IF YOU ARE BEING PULLED OVER AND AN DEPUTY IS APPROACHING YOUR CAR
· Stay in your vehicle and keep your hands visible.
· If it is dark outside – turn on your interior vehicle light.
· Follow the directions of the deputy.
· South Carolina law requires drivers to show their license, registration and proof of insurance upon request
· Be honest with the deputy and ask for an explanation if something is unclear.
· Be reminded that accepting the citation is not an admission of guilt – you will have the opportunity to contest the citation in court later

REASONS FOR A STOP
Deputies may stop a motorist for these reasons:
· Traffic violations
· Probable cause to make an arrest
· Reasonable suspicion of criminal activity based on personal observations and information from other officers, the police radio or a witness.
· Outstanding warrants.
· A deputy can also stop for minor infractions such as darkly tinted windows, inoperative equipment or failing to signal before a turn.

“TERRY STOPS” OF VEHICLES

A “Terry Stop” of vehicles are when an deputy may stop vehicles for questions, if the deputy reasonably suspects that the driver in the vehicle has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime. The officer is not required to have probable cause to arrest the individual at the time of contact, but may have reasonable suspicion that the individual is involved in criminal activity. Evidence obtained through a Terry Stop of a vehicle is acceptable as long as it was the result of a reasonable suspicion that a crime occurred.

Sheriff Leon Lott stated that law enforcement officers are the most visible representatives of public safety, to that end the Sheriff realizes that it takes a community to fight crime on all levels. It is important to establish a great relationship with those we serve, the citizens. Building Unity in the Community is a huge factor that goes into solving crimes and keeping our neighborhoods safe.

Lieutenant Curtis Wilson
Richland County Sheriff’s Department
Public Information Officer & Community Liaison

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