Warrensville Heights, Oh., police Sgt. Darren Senft expects the worst when he makes a traffic stop, always assuming the driver is armed, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He keeps an eye out for the driver’s hands and looks for sudden or strange movements. He’ll call for backup if needed, and he never lets his guard down. It’s the unknown variables that can transform a traffic stop into a nightmare encounter like the one police say happened Sunday in Twinsburg, Oh., where a motorist is charged with killing a police officer who had pulled him over for playing loud music and suspicion of drunken driving.
About 20 percent of fatal shootings of police officers happen during traffic stops, said Kevin Morison of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Dick Ashton of the International Association of Chiefs of Police said the average age of an officer killed in the line of duty in 2006 was 38 with 11 years experience. “No matter how good of an officer you are and how careful you are, there are situations you get into  where there is no defense,” he said.