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Ever Wonder Why Police Tap Brake Lights When Pulling Someone Over? Here's Why

Most people are not aware that many police officers have a habit of tapping on the tail light of a car they have pulled over for a traffic stop. In most cases, the officer just lightly taps the tail light as he or she approaches the driver’s window.

Keep in mind that this practice of tapping a car’s back tail light does actually serve a couple of useful purposes from the perspective of the officer.

The first, and perhaps the most important reason that law enforcement officers tap your tail light as they approach is a method of getting the driver’s attention. People who may be involved in illegal activities might be distracted in their attempt to hide drugs or a weapon. So the idea is when an officer taps on the tail light, it will catch the driver’s attention and distract them from any attempt to hide contraband or the like.

The second reason that officers often tap the tail light of a car they pull over with their hand is a means to inconspicuously leave a bit of fingerprint evidence behind.

This tradition developed in the era before dashcams and body cameras and law enforcement officers got in the habit of touching the tail light of a suspect car to leave fingerprints for police forensic teams just in case anything serious happened during the traffic stop.

The idea is that investigators would be able to establish if a vehicle was involved in an incident by the fingerprints left behind by the officer.

In today’s world, calling in the license plate number before approaching the vehicle is standard procedure. That way, an officer can tell if the owner of a vehicle may have warrants outstanding or if it is listed as stolen. Calling in the plate number also automatically establishes an electronic record of the traffic stop.

Source: AWM
Photo: AWM

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