JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Across the country this year, there have been stories of traffic stops gone wrong. In some cases, incidents result in the deaths of civilians. Sometimes, officer's lives are taken from what could have been written off as a simple traffic violation.
The unpredictability of traffic stops was the focus of the Jonesboro Police Department's Citizen Police Academy Thursday night.
JPD Corporal Caleb Landreth has been with the department for 11 years. When he is not working patrol, Cpl. Landreth also teaches newly hired officers the ins and outs of traffic stops.
Thursday night though, he not only passed that information onto those in the Citizen's Police Academy, he also gave them hands-on experience of what it is like to be an officer in those situations.
"I want them to sit in a patrol car and look through our eyes, with the blue lights going, the spot lights going," Cpl. Landreth said. "I want them to see what we can't see and then they're actually going to make an approach to the driver so they can see exactly what we see. They're going to be, literally, in our shoes."
Cpl. Landreth explained to the group that every time they make a traffic stop, the risk is unknown.
He then explained to students how and why patrol officers act a certain way during traffic stops.
Cpl. Landreth said being able to pass this information onto the community is invaluable.
"Most people, they get stopped in traffic stops, it's a bad day for them," Cpl. Landreth told Region 8 News. "They're getting stopped, possibly getting a citation, but I'd like for them to see the other side of the car. Here, they can see where we come from, what we can and can't see, and the dangers that we approach every day in this job."
He added that compliance from citizens ensures that an encounter with police goes smoothly.
"It's an officer safety issue as well as a safety issue for them," Cpl. Landreth said.
He said everything they do while on the job is done in a way to ensure that they go home once their shift is over.
This is the second group of Citizen's Police Academy to go through the program.
Copyright 2015 KAIT. All rights reserved.