By Anne Eickstadt

ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Republican
Det. Steven Jones invited the fall Citizens’ Police Academy group to check out his police car.


This week’s session of the Citizen’s Police Academy focused on Traffic Enforcement. Recently promoted from officer, Detective Steven Jones has been a field training officer for over 17 years. He gave us an extensive list of everything he has done for the BPD, which included not only training duties, but also the youth Explorer Program, and the Honor Guard Casket Team. “I love my job,” he said.

“One thing that keeps you safe is traffic stops,” Jones said. “Public safety is the main reason for traffic enforcement. We go out and make sure people are slowing down. We are able to be proactive. Traffic enforcement is a way to be alert and be seen by the public. It is a way to deter crime. We write citations to deter bad driving.

“We can stop a car for things like speeding, not wearing a seat belt, illegal lane change, expired license plates, not using a turn signal, violating a stop sign/light and many more reasons. We have an entire manual just on traffic enforcement. Sometimes we make stops for a criminal investigation. If something is going on, we will be asked to check someone out and find out what we can.

“If something sparks my ‘oh, shoot-o-meter,’ I don’t ignore it because it’s usually something bad. I will make the traffic stop and I will usually find something – cannabis, cocaine, alcohol, no valid driver’s license, DUI – something. More and more often we find something during routine traffic stops. These stops keep these people off the road and keep insurance rates lower by preventing crashes.

“If you have ever wondered why a traffic stop takes so long, it is because we have to check driver’s license information, vehicle registration, check you on the computer, and complete our paperwork at the same time we are being alert and looking around to make sure no one is coming up behind us. If there is a rookie officer with us, it will take twice as long.

“If you are stopped, do exactly what you are asked to do. Stop immediately or we will wonder why not and what is going on. Put your hands on the wheel and don’t fumble around in your bag or the glove compartment. We will wonder if you are reaching for a gun or a knife or trying to hide something.

“Put the window down, be polite and be respectful. If you are an honest citizen, there is no need to be rude, we are just trying to keep you safe. A regular citation can be done in 10 or 15 minutes. If you have a concealed carry license, tell the officer so immediately and where your gun is. Keep your hands away from it and do not make any sudden movements. We won’t take your gun away from you, we just need to know you have it.

“Traffic stops are the most dangerous thing an officer can do. We’re coming up blind. We don’t know what you are doing or what is in the car. We do not want the worst to happen but we are prepared in case it does. Nine times out of ten we are…

For complete article, pick up the Sept. 13 Belvidere Republican.

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