Why Do Police Officers Touch the Back of the Car They Pull Over?

police touch the back of a vehicle

You are driving down the road and suddenly the police ask you to pull over. If you have ever experienced such an incident, you may have noticed that the police touched the taillight on the back of your car. Have you ever wondered why?

Steve Monterio, a traffic safety expert, gives the answer. He says that it is not for nothing that police officers, who follow many procedures for their own safety and the safety of the driver, touch the back of the car and that there may be different reasons.

The most important reason, according to Monterio, is interesting but logical: when a policeman touches the rear of a vehicle or a spotlight, he leaves his fingerprints. If the driver panics and suddenly decides to step on the gas and leave the scene, it is easier for the police to prove later that they interacted with the vehicle and the driver.

Fingerprinting is not the only reason!

Of course, it is not always possible to use fingerprints as evidence. Even if the police have touched the vehicle, it may later be erased due to rain or snow, or the areas where the prints were found may have been soiled or tampered with.

Other reasons are more psychological: When a police officer pulls over a vehicle, he or she may also touch the back of the car to check if there is anything suspicious in the trunk and pay attention to the driver's reaction. As strange as it may sound, it is even said that sometimes they do this to confirm that someone will not suddenly come out of the trunk and attack the police.

Another psychological reason is to make the driver generally uncomfortable. By approaching the rear of the vehicle, the police officers try to deduce from the actions of the driver in the front whether he or she is trying to hide something. If the driver is carrying dangerous items in the vehicle, such as drugs, ammunition or weapons, he or she will reactively try to hide these items first. Interestingly, this practice has been shown to have a very high rate of apprehending drunk drivers, illegal traffickers and those illegally carrying weapons.

Does the Police Currently Carry Out This Practice?

But is this practice still going on very intensively? Not as much as it used to be. Fingerprints are no longer needed as much as in the past to show that the vehicle has been interacted with. Surveillance cameras in many places are more than fulfilling this function. Police departments have different attitudes. Some still tell police officers to touch the back of the vehicle, both for psychological pressure and to leave evidence. Others argue that this can be dangerous nowadays, with drivers trying to harm police officers by putting the car in reverse.

Source: The Law Dictionary

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