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Why Does a Policeman Touch a Tail Light When He Stops You?

August 15, 2011

If you’ve ever been pulled over, or if regularly watch police shows on television, you may have seen a police officer touch a car’s taillight when approaching a stopped vehicle.

Identification
Many police officers will press their hand against a car’s taillight or trunk in order to leave fingerprints and DNA evidence that they were near the vehicle. According to the PoliceCrimes website, this can help in a case where the perpetrator acts violently toward the officer. Although video cameras have become prevalent in police cars, many officers still adhere to this tradition.

Surprise
Older police teaching methods advocated tapping the trunk or taillight in order to surprise the driver in the car. This was thought to prevent those in the car from hiding illegal substances and to help the officer in identifying anything suspicious.

Common Practice
Police officers are no longer advised to tap on the taillights of cars, as this gives the officer’s position away, making them more susceptible to attack.

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