“Traffic stop. Two small words that can strike fear in even the most hardened police officers.” So says the Arizona Republic in concluding that nothing is predictable about a traffic stop. “You could get anything,” said Officer Rich Germaine of the state Department of Public Safety. “It’s kind of like playing the slot machine. Every time you pull the handle, you never know what you’re going to get. You can win or you can lose.” This week, a Phoenix police officer was shot twice and killed during a traffic stop. Officer David Uribe, a 22-year veteran, had pulled over a vehicle with a stolen license plate and was shot in the neck and head when he got out of his patrol car. His killers have not been caught.
Yesterday, an officer attempted to pull over a stolen car and the driver fled. The man later pulled a gun on police and was shot to death. Nationally, more officers have been killed during traffic pursuits and stops than in any other situation except arrests. From 1994 to 2003, 101 law enforcement officers, an average of 10 a year, died in traffic stops, says an FBI report. “You don’t know what’s being planned or what’s being thought up when you’re walking up to the vehicle,” Phoenix police Officer Shayne Tuchfarber said. “The unknown is one of the biggest fears.”