What To Do When Stopped By A Police Officer

Your safety and civil rights are important to each and every police officer. At the Newport News Police Department, we are committed to working with you to ensure every encounter you have with one of our officers is a positive one.

Our officers are committed to your safety.

Police officers are highly trained and committed to protecting citizens. If you get stopped by an officer, remember that he or she:
​• Is recording the interaction for your and their protection.
​• Does not intent to offend you.
​• Usually does not have any previous knowledge of you.
​• May not be stopping you for the same reason you think.
​• Is trained to remain in a position that enhances his or her safety, and the safety of others.

Why do police officers stop people?
​It’s important to remember there are many reasons why you might be stopped by a police officer. Whatever the reason, your cooperation is a vital part of the experience. Police officers are trained to identify and investigate violations of local, state and federal laws. Every situation is different.
​Here are a few reasons for which you may be stopped by a police officer:
​• The officer observed a violation of the law.
​• You appear to need assistance.
​• You are in an area where a crime just occurred.
​• You may be a witness to a crime.
​• You may fit the description of a suspect.
​• You may have been identified as a suspect.

Important things you can do when approached by an officer:
​• Follow the officer’s instructions; if unclear, please ask.
​• Keep your hands visible to the officer.
​• Make slow movements.
​• Tell the officer if you have a weapon (knife, gun, etc.) and where it is located.
​• Remain calm and try not to be argumentative.

Important things to remember if you are in a car:
​• Remain seated in the vehicle; do not get out of the vehicle unless instructed to do so
​• Keep your hands visible at all times.
​• When it’s dark outside, turn on the interior light prior to the officer approaching.
​• Give the officer your driver’s license and vehicle registration upon request.

What to do if you believe the officer was unprofessional or disrespectful or you want to compliment an officer:
​• Follow their instructions; this is not the time to argue.
​• Ask for their supervisor’s name.
​• Note the officer's car number and call as soon as the officer leaves.
​• File a complaint/compliment by visiting nnvag.gov/police or calling (757) 247-2500. ​

Remember, stay calm and address your complaint when the interaction is complete.

​Drive safely!