Reader Feedback on Passenger Side Approach

By Calibre Press  |   Nov 6, 2020

After reading our recent article Taking a Look from the Passenger Side Pays Off in the Calibre Press newsletter, Lt. Pete Ebel from West Palm Beach, FL shared the following thoughts:

“I have many, many examples of the passenger-side approach being the best path. Police work is rarely a ‘never’ and ‘always’ business, as terrain and situation always dictate your approach, but I have found a passenger side approach abundantly applicable on the flat terrain on which I have worked for 31 years.

“Because people are accustomed to us walking up on the driver’s side, they expect to see a uniform in their driver window 30-60 seconds after the stop, and that includes bad guys.  I’ve startled numerous suspects who concealed a weapon or drugs under their right leg because that’s the approach they expected me to take and they thought they would be hidden from my sight.  One guy literally jumped, giving me full view of an ounce of illegal narcotics.

“I like the aspect of putting the suspect off balance by doing something to which he/she is not accustomed. A passenger side approach allows for a view of most of the car’s interior and the right hand (90% of the population is right-handed) of the suspect. A passenger-side approach also creates distance, which gives me time to react and increases the possibility of the suspect being less accurate with his/her shots.

“I teach this method in the academy and the recruits most often agree this is the best approach. Some vets don’t like it for that age-old bad reason that the driver’s side approach “is the way I’ve always done it.”  If a suspect has a gun in his/her hand when the officer approaches on the driver side, the bad guy has unobstructed shooting access to the officer. And since action is always quicker than reaction, you cannot outdraw someone else’s trigger squeeze, even if your gun is out.

“Stay safe, brothers and sisters.”

Do you have feedback to share on passenger vs. driver side approach? Feel free to share it with us at [email protected]

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