No such thing as "routine" traffic stop - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

No such thing as "routine" traffic stop

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By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) -"Well, first of all, the word ‘regular' or ‘routine' doesn't exist.  I'm sure we all know that," said Trumann Police Chief Tony Rusher.

In Wednesday afternoon's news conference, Chief Rusher answered a question about the phrase "routine traffic stop" in regards to a traffic stop made on Tuesday night that led to the death of officer Jonathan Schmidt.

Hoxie Police Chief Glen Smith is a 20 year veteran of the police force.  During that time he was an officer with the Trumann Police Department where he said he spent a week helping train Jonathan Schmidt. 

"When you go on duty you always have a worry that you want to get home safe that night," said Smith.

He said the events that happened last May in West Memphis and this week in Trumann are grim reminders that officers don't always make it back to their families.

"If a guy tells you he ain't scared on a traffic stop he needs to be doing something else because there's always that scary moment," said Smith>

When it comes to the phrase "routine traffic stop" Smith says it doesn't really exist.

"Report wise that's good, that's what we use on paper, you know, "routine" and that's how we say it but there's really never a routine traffic stop," said Smith.

Smith and his officers patrol Highways 63 and 67.  When they pull someone over they never know what they'll find inside.

"You've got a bad guy in the car, he's got a weapon, they've got the upper hand on you at that point," said Smith.

In his two decades of service at various departments across Region 8 Smith said he has been in life-threatening situations.

"I've been shot at a few times when I worked out in different areas.  I've had one gun pulled on me when I was a county officer," said Smith.

When officers pull someone over in Hoxie, the person behind the wheel may be someone they know but that doesn't take away the danger. 

"They might have had something come up big that's happening to them and they're sitting on the edge," said Smith.

When you're pulled over and an officer is walking up to your car Chief Smith said he prefers you keep both hands on the steering wheel, that way he knows where they are at all times.

"If I can see their hands I'm pretty comfortable.  I worry about what's in that back seat of that vehicle," said Smith.

Losing any officer is tough.  Smith says Trumann has lost a great officer.

"Jonathan, he was all about his job.  He wanted to learn and he wanted to be there for the people of Trumann," said Smith.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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