Deputies cautioned about stopped vehicles: Expect the unexpected
Posted: Friday, July 9, 2010 9:36 pm
By: John Brannon, Staff Reporter
By JOHN BRANNON
A good-sense guide for survival: Always expect the unexpected.
That’s what Chief Deputy Kent Treece of the Obion County Sheriff’s Office tells his deputies about approaching a stopped ve-hicle.
“That’s our motto: ‘Al-ways expect the unexpected,’” he said. “You have got to be on full alert. It’s a harrowing experience to walk up on people you don’t know, vehicles you don’t know, and you have no idea what’s going through their heads.
“Look at that incident in West Memphis. It was (supposed to be) a simple interdiction stop.”
On May 20, two West Memphis, Ark., police officers, Brandon Paudert and Bill Evans, were gunned down on Interstate 40 by Jerry Kane, 45, and his son, Joe Kane, 16, of Ohio.
The Kanes were armed with a pistol and an AK-47 assault rifle. The two officers had only their service revolvers.
About an hour after the killings, police located the Kanes’ van in a Walmart parking lot. There was another shootout, during which two officers were wounded and the Kanes were shot and killed.
Treece said the West Memphis officers were working what has become practically routine: A drug interdiction stop on an interstate highway.
“Interdiction is done in every state in North America. It’s done up and down I-40,” he said. “You cannot drive from Union City to Nashville without encountering an interdiction unit. It’s what they do.”
Treece printed some Internet photos showing the vehicles involved and the many bullet holes in them. “I gave ’em to our guys and let them watch videos of the stops. I wanted them to see if there was anything they would have done differently,” he said. “Those things have a tendency to burn images in the brain.”
There are specialized training opportunities to aid officers in working a traffic stop. The training begins at the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy in Donelson where, in order to become a duly certified peace officer, each candidate must undergo 10 weeks of training.
The curricula includes personal safety such as what and what not to do when approaching a stopped vehicle. Beyond that, deputies are enrolled in various specialized schools centered around officer safety. Also, safety tips are included in a mandatory 40 hours of in-service training each year.
POST — the Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission — requires that all full-time certified police officers receive at least 40 hours in-service training a year.
“What we incorporate into our in-service training is a refresher of what they learn at the academy,” Treece said. “We try to emphasize officer safety as much as possible. When we’re on the firing range, we do scenario-based training, a lot of times with a vehicle. We’ve gone so far as having a junk vehicle out there and hanging targets up inside it and outside it and go through various training scenarios.
“Myself and anyone else involved as range instructors watch them. We give them instructions: ‘This is what the scenario is. Always expect the unexpected. You’re conducting a traffic stop. Approach the vehicle.’
“Then we critique them on how they actually approach the vehicle. If they slip somewhere, we bring it to their attention. Then we back up, regroup and let them run through it again.”
Of particular emphasis, he said, is being alert when you’re walking up to a stopped car. He said there are various ways to approach a vehicle in the daytime, and a nighttime approach is “totally different.”
“The general public has a hard time understanding why we do it the way we do,” he said.“Tinted windows, for example. During the daytime, that’s bad enough. But at night, you’re on patrol, you conduct a traffic stop on an out-of-state vehicle, or out-of-county vehicle, someone you don’t know, and you walk up on a car and the windows are tinted. You can’t see what’s going on in the vehicle. It can turn instantly into something devastating.
“You don’t know who or what’s in that car. That’s pretty much what happened to the officers in West Memphis. They did an interdiction stop on the interstate, and it went real bad. There was a lot of gunfire.
“The greater part of our annual inservice training each year deals with domestic violence and traffic stops.
“It’s all intended as safety of the officers.”
Published in The Messenger 7.9.10