In the 1960’s a California Highway Patrol Officer stopped a driver for drunk driving. The officer arrested the driver and intended to tow his vehicle. As he was conducting his investigation, several of the driver’s relatives showed up at the scene of the traffic stop and he arrested them for interfering with his traffic stop. All during this series of events, a crowd gathered and eventually it developed into full scale race rioting with dozens killed and a billion dollars in damage.
How can officers avoid this type of escalation from traffic stop to rioting and murder? Stay focused on your safety, the safety of your prisoner and your law enforcement goal. If you have to arrest someone, make the arrest, handcuff the suspect, do a quick check of the small of their back for weapons, put them inside a patrol car. Secure the suspect’s vehicle even if you want to tow it. Return to your car and drive away with your suspect. At that point your main goal has been accomplished.
You can return later and tow the vehicle. Unless the vehicle is evidence, you don’t really need it right then and waiting a couple hours will not change the case. When you go back, meet the tow truck a few blocks from the scene, swoop in with a couple police vehicles and take the suspects car. By leaving the scene initially you give time for the crowd to disperse and then you won’t have to fight a whole crowd and risk escalation into a riot. Sometimes a tactical withdrawal is the best tactic to accomplish your goal, that’s what the SGT Says.