No one likes to see those flashing red and blue lights behind you. If you've ever been pulled over, you may have noticed that the cop who pulled you over touched the back of your car while walking up to it. It turns out this is a common practice in law enforcement, but why?
Why do cops touch the back of cars?
There are two "hidden" reasons why a police officer will touch the back of a person's car while performing a traffic stop, according to Steve Montiero, who participated in a Q&A with Click Orlando.
A viewer posed the question: "I’ve seen police officers touch the back of vehicles right before they approach a car on a traffic stop. Why do they do this?"
Even if you've never been stopped whilst driving yourself, if you grew up watching Cops for the excellent intro theme song, you've probably wondered the same thing. Officer Montiero delineated why this is the standard operating procedure when a cop pulls someone over.
"When law enforcement officers conduct a traffic stop, there are plenty of procedures that need to be done, not only for the safety of the violator but for the safety of that officer," he said.
"The first reason is to make sure that the trunk is closed. It may sound a little crazy, but you want to make sure that no one is about to jump out of the trunk and that it’s properly secured."
If there's one thing that the motel scene from Scarface has proven, it's that a threat can come from anywhere, including a seemingly innocuous person who's hiding a machine gun under a pillow while watching TV. Officers want to make sure there's no one trying to pull a potential surprise trunk attack.
But there's a second reason why cops touch the back of cars that they pull over.
Trooper Montiero said that the other reason is to prove "that that officer was with that car, so when officers approach a vehicle, they touch the rear of it."
He continued, "Touching the rear of the vehicle puts the officer’s fingerprints on that car, showing that he or she was there with it."
"In case the driver decided to flee the scene, or if something happened to that officer, it ties both the vehicle and the officer together," he said. "This is just one of the many things that take place during traffic stops to ensure everyone’s safety."
So if you thought police officers were just like kids at the mall who feel the need to put their hands on every single bright, shiny object and every cool-looking toy at the store, you know now that's not the case.
Instead, they're making sure you're not plotting a murderous surprise in your trunk, and they want their prints on your vehicle in case you attempt to claim that they never pulled you over in the first place.
Or maybe you know now that if you do flee the scene of a traffic stop, you should clean the back of your car very very thoroughly.