DEAR ABBY: Will you please ask your readers never to interrupt a police officer in the middle of a traffic stop unless it is a dire emergency? (Directions to the nearest restaurant don't count!)
Abby, we police officers never know who we are pulling over during a routine stop. It could be a murderer, an escaped felon or a minister. More law enforcement personnel are injured or killed during routine traffic stops than almost any other type of police activity. (It's twice as dangerous at night.)
Please don't pull up right next to me as I'm approaching the car I just stopped and ask me for directions! We could both be in danger and I might not be able to guarantee your safety.
We also make stops where the element of danger is known beforehand -- such as an armed robber fleeing the scene. This is usually a planned stop where suspects are taken out of a car at gunpoint. If you should see one or more police officers with their guns drawn and pointed at someone, don't walk up and ask, "What's going on?" We are not filming "T.J. Hooker."
If a police officer is all red in the face and yelling at you and waving an arm in a sideways motion while holding a gun in the other, don't wave back. It isn't a greeting. MOVE! You are in the line of fire!
Thanks, Abby, for letting me get this off my chest. -- CALIFORNIA COP, LOMPOC, CALIF.
DEAR READERS: He's right. When officers are on duty, they are not playing cops and robbers; it's the real thing. So, please, don't interrupt an officer who is obviously busy doing his job.