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Bloomington Briefing

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What to do during a traffic stop

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Bloomington Briefing Published January 28, 2021

A traffic stop is one way you might interact with a police officer. It can happen for speeding, failing to use a turn signal, equipment violations such as a broken taillight, an expired license plate sticker or even erratic or suspicious behavior. Bloomington police officers are trained on how to safely and fairly run a traffic stop and they want you to know what to expect if you’re pulled over. 

“We know traffic stops can cause fear and anxiety. The goal of these stops is to ensure traffic safety in the city. Your cooperation helps things go quickly and safely,” Acting Chief Mike Hartley said. “We hope by sharing these tips, we can help residents and visitors understand what to expect if they’re stopped by a Bloomington police officer.”

If you see those red, white and blue lights flashing in your rear-view mirror, stay calm and remember to follow these guidelines: 

  • Slow down and use your turn signal so the officer knows you’re trying to stop. Pull to the right side of the road and stop. 
  • Don’t block traffic when you stop. Officers will usually wait for a safe spot in the roadway to make a stop. 
  • Once you’re stopped, put your car in park and stay inside. 
  • When the officer is walking up, keep your hands where the officer can see them. Passengers in your car should do the same.
  • Roll down your driver’s side window. Don’t make any sudden movements like reaching for something or ducking.
  • Officers will ask for your driver’s license and proof of insurance right away so they know who they are talking to.
  • Be sure to tell the officer where any documents are before you reach for anything. It’s also a good idea to tell them where you’re reaching, like your purse or glove compartment. 
  • If you don’t have your driver’s license with you, be sure to tell the officer and provide them with any form of ID you might have. Be sure to tell the officers if you do not speak English.
  • Officers will explain why you are being stopped and ask some basic questions regarding the stop and your travel. 
  • Answer the questions politely and honestly. Your answers can help the officer understand the reason for your violation.
  • Don’t get out of the car unless the officer asks you to. 
  • While the officer is reviewing your license and insurance information in their squad car, stay in your car and refrain from moving or reaching around. Keep your hands where they can be seen. 
  • Don’t be concerned if a second squad car pulls up during your stop. This is a common practice in Bloomington for safety and to provide assistance to the officer who made the stop. 
  • After reviewing your license and registration, the officer will return to your vehicle to discuss next steps.

Watch a video of these tips online at Videos are available in English, Spanish and Somali.

Page last saved January 28, 2021