Captain Thomas Moore

Bureau Commander 

phone icon (716) 879-6652
email icon Email

home icon 1835 Sheridan Dr.
      Buffalo, NY  14223


ToT Dispatch transparentDispatcher badge transparent  


The communications center provides dispatching services for both the police and fire departments; including Emergency Medical Dispatching for the residents of the Town and Village of Kenmore. Many aspects of dispatching are similar for both departments. However, each department has its own special needs as dictated by the type of calls they handle and their established procedures.



Public Safety Dispatchers perform communications duties for the Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) coordination of the Town of Tonawanda. The center is also responsible for dispatching EMS in the Village of Kenmore. They answer citizen calls for service, both emergency and non-emergency, dispatching police officers, firefighters and equipment to handle any type of situation. Communications Center personnel provide the vital first-link between citizens and the Town's resources. Their performance directly contributes to the safety and well-being of the Department's officers and the Town's residents. The Town of Tonawanda Communications center handles incoming calls for service in a two-step method. The calls are received by complaint dispatchers, who screen the call and either refer the caller to the appropriate radio operator, or take information for referral to the front desk officer. Incident information is entered into the Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) computer which records all incident information and tracks the status of all officers and units in the field. 

Public safety dispatchers are required to multi-task in order to expedite the processing of information and/or requests. For example, public safety dispatchers must be able to question a caller at the same time they are typing information into a computer. It is not as easy as it sounds but it is a skill that can be learned. The
training program provides the guidance and opportunity to become a successful dispatcher. The public relies on dispatchers for help. The dispatcher is a critical link between the community and emergency services. Dispatching is demanding work. There are situations where matters of life or death can depend on the public safety dispatcher. It can be stressful. It can be uneventful. It can be intense for many hours or just a few minutes. This roller coaster can take an emotional toll, as it can be all of these things in one shift. Law enforcement officers depend on dispatchers for information to help ensure their safety and the public’s. The dispatcher’s judgment, ability to obtain accurate information and knowledge of available resources are vital. Whether it is a life and death situation or a citizen’s complaint, every call should be handled in an efficient and professional way. Dispatchers encounter a variety of challenges. While remaining calm and professional, a dispatcher must evaluate each call for service as rapidly as possible, obtain relevant information from citizens
regardless of their state of mind, research premise history, check names for warrants, ensure officer
safety and simultaneously relay that information to units responding. Dispatchers also need to know
department policies and procedures, the basic elements of crimes, local geography and available
resources. Dispatchers are an integral part of the law enforcement team. They play a vital role in
aiding people in trouble, stopping crime, preventing crime, investigating crime and ensuring the
officer’s and public’s safety. Public safety employees protect and serve the public. The public has a certain expectation of us. The basic expectations are to ensure public safety, protect life and property, enforce laws, prevent crime, reduce fear of crime, solve community problems, generate and maintain public trust, uphold
constitutional rights and treating all people with respect.


Code of Ethics for Dispatchers

The following is an adapted version of the Code of Ethics for dispatchers, which was provided by The
Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and written by Evert E. Carter, Chief
Dispatcher Williamson County Sheriff’s Department Marion, Illinois 1981.

As a Public Safety Telecommunicator, I am dedicated to serve the public; to safeguard life and
property; to keep my personnel informed on all calls that may require their attention; to assist all
public safety personnel in the performance of their duties; assure that all rules and regulations that
govern my position are not violated in any manner. I will keep my private and social life free from all
criticism; maintain a calm attitude during times of stress and emergencies; develop self-control and
be constantly mindful of the welfare of others, regardless of race, creed, or religion. I will obey the
laws of the land, rules, and regulations of the Federal Communications Commission and my
department. Whatever information I receive of a confidential nature will be revealed only in the
official performance of my duties. Becoming an Exemplary Public Safety Dispatcher I will never act in
a selfish or unofficial manner or let my personal feelings, friendships, prejudices or animosity
influence my decisions. I will enforce the rules and regulations of my department and the Federal
Communications Commission without fear, favor or ill will, never employing unnecessary force and
never accepting gratuities. I recognize the high responsibility of my position as a symbol of public
faith and trust and will accept it to be held as long as I am faithful to the ethics of public safety service.
I will constantly strive to achieve those objectives and ideals, which govern my profession, dedicating
myself, to my chosen profession of public safety telecommunications.



The Communications Bureau has 17 full-time employees and 7 part-time employees.

The Communications Center maintains various record files such as lists of business owners, resident contacts, alarm systems, school information and day care centers to name a few. The center can be a busy, noisy, high paced place to work, and dispatchers must often devote total concentration to the radio for long periods of time. This profession involves an individual's ability to multi-task regularly and work under high stress situations at times.


Employment Opportunities

Full-Time dispatchers are hired in accordance with Erie County Civil Service Department rules  In order to be considered for a full-time dispatcher's position you must have completed 60 college credit hours in any discipline and take the public safety dispatcher exam, as administered by Erie County Civil Service. If you pass the exam your name will be placed on an eligible list according to your grade.  Only Town of Tonawanda and Village of Kenmore residents are eligible for positions in our Dispatch Unit.  The eligible lists are valid for an average of 4 years, unless required sooner. If you are interested in a career as a full-time dispatcher, follow this link to the Erie County website and search the current exam offerings.  Current Erie County Civil Service Exams

Click this LINK to see what an announcement looks like. It also explains the qualifications at the time of this last exam in 2016. The exams are valid for an average of 4 years (or as necessary) so don’t miss out on a great career opportunity.


Becoming a Part-Time Dispatcher: NO EXAM

An individual must be a Town or Village resident, and have at least a high school diploma or equivalency. Dispatcher and or Fire Experience is a plus but not required. No exam is needed.

Applications can be obtained through the Town Of Tonawanda Personnel office located at 291 Ensminger Road, Suite 2 Tonawanda, NY 14150. We are always accepting applications, although they must be completed in person at the personnel office.



Police FAQ's

Citizens Police Academy
Accident Reports
CERT (Community Emergency Response Team)
SafeCam Registry            
Business Keyholder Registry
Special Needs Registry
Vacation House Check Registry
FOIL Requests

If you notice a street light that needs attention, you can use the Town of Tonawanda Streetlight Outage Reporting Form

For full information on the Town of Tonawanda StreetLight program please follow this LINK

Crashdocs Banner Border

CRASHDOCS website makes it easier to get accident reports

There is no need to make a trip to the police station to obtain a copy of your accident. Simply search for your report, go to checkout (no charge at checkout) and receive a copy that you can print or save to your files.

No more:

  • Travel to the police station
  • Long forms to fill out
  • Postage and wasted paper

Reports are available 24/7, so you can get your accident report when it is accepted into this system from the police department.

To obtain an accident report for the Town of Tonawanda you can follow this LINK to start the process.  You will need the complaint number that you were given previously.

Anything court related to fines, you should contact court directly at 716-876-5536 as fines and surcharges are subject to change
I can't make my scheduled court date, now what?
Court dates are set by the Town Court. If you were scheduled in court and can't make it, contact the court at (716) 876-5536.
What is Cafeteria Court?
Cafeteria Court is the window in the court office where you can plead guilty to a ticket without appearing in court.
Are all equipment violations dismissed?
No. Sound, brakes and no headlight violations are not dismissible.
Where is the Town Court located?
Town Court is located on the second floor of the Police Building at 1835 Sheridan Drive. Entrance to the Town Court is located on the extreme west end (door closest to Delaware Road) of the Police Building. Do not enter the doors in the center of the building for court as you will only be told to exit the building and go to the next set of doors.
What is the town prosecutor?
The town prosecutor is a member of the Office of the Town Attorney who prosecutes traffic violations and non-criminal offenses.
What is the ordinance for barking dogs?
The ordinance for barking dogs is Section 71-5, Paragraph D, subsection 2 of the Town of Tonawanda town ordinances as listed below.

D. It shall be unlawful for any owner of any dog in the town to permit or allow a dog to: (2) Engage in habitual loud howling, barking, crying or whining or conduct itself in such a manner so as to unreasonably disturb the comfort or repose of any person.

I have a dog, what do I need to know and do?
  • It is unlawful for a dog to be unleashed off of the owner's premises in the Town of Tonawanda and Village of Kenmore. This includes all parks and recreation areas. The fine for this offense ranges from $25 to $250.
  • All dogs four months or older are required to be licensed. The fine for an unlicensed dog is $25. Persons harboring an unlicensed dog will be subject to arrest and fine upon conviction.
  • It shall be the duty of every dog owner or person having possession, custody or control of a dog to remove any feces left by said dog on any public property owned by the Town of Tonawanda and deposit it in a container lawfully used for the disposal of refuse.
  • Dog licenses can be obtained at the Town of Tonawanda Office of the Town Clerk, which is located at 2919 Delaware Avenue. For further information, please call (716) 877-8800 ext. 810. The form can be downloaded here, DOG LICENSE


How do I become a police officer in the town?
Candidates must be a U.S. citizen and must reside in the Town of Tonawanda for at least four months prior to taking the Civil Service exam.

Selections are made from a Civil Service list based upon exam scores. For each selection the person must be in the top three places on the list. Exams are given every two years by the Erie County Personnel office.

For additional information connect to the Erie County Civil Service Commission. Erie County Civil Service Commission

How do I get fingerprints taken ?
Fingerprints are taken by the department Monday through Friday between 8:30 am to 9:30 am and 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm. We do not take fingerprints for a pistol permits, you must contact the Erie County Pistol Permit Bureau for additional information (716-858-6600). For other fingerprinting requests you must make an appointment with the Detective Bureau by calling (716-879-6633).

The fee for fingerprint cards is $10 per card for Town of Tonawanda residents and $50 per card for non-residents. You must bring exact change, no personal checks are accepted. You must also have proper identification.

When can garbage be put out for pick-up?
Garbage can be placed out no earlier than 7:00 am the day before the designated collection day.
When do garbage cans have to be removed from the curb?
Garbage cans must be removed from the curb no later than 7:00 pm on the designated collection date.
How do I dispose of an old refrigerator?
Remove the doors and/or locking mechanism and place it out on collection day. For more information, see Waste Disposal Information from the Tonawanda Highway Department.
How can I obtain a handicap parking permit?
Applications are available 24 hours a day at the front desk of the Police Station or online at this LINK. Once the application is completed, it may be returned to the Police Department Records Bureau for processing.

If the application is personally returned during the hours of operation (Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 4:00 pm), the permit will be issued immediately. There are no fees for handicap parking permits.

Permits are issued to Town of Tonawanda residents only.


What are the ages for a junior operators license in New York?
In New York, junior operators licenses are for 16- and 17-year-olds
Can a person with a junior operators license drive after 9:00 pm with a friend who has a full license?
Different counties have different rules. In Erie County, the supervising driver must be at least 18 years of age with a license of the same class. This person must also be in a position of "Loco Parentis," meaning a guardian or relative (technically not a friend).
What is the rule for school functions regarding junior operators licenses?
Those with junior operators licenses are allowed to drive to and from school for instruction, education or training.
Is a school club a valid reason to drive after 9:00 pm with a junior operators license?
No a school club is not a valid reason to drive after 9:00 pm with a junior operators license.
Who must be riding with a driver that possesses a learners permit?
A person at least 18 years of age with a license in the same class as the vehicle being operated must ride along with a driver possessing a learners permit.
How is a motorcycle operator that possesses a motorcycle learners permit supervised by a licensed operator?
The licensed operator can either supervise as a passenger on the motorcycle or in another vehicle.
Does the learning motorcycle driver have to remain in view of the supervisor?
Yes, the learning motorcycle driver must remain in view of the supervisor.
What do you mean by moped class?
A moped is placed in a class based on its maximum attainable speed.
Can I drive a moped without a helmet or insurance?
You can drive a moped without a helmet or insurance only if it is a class "C."
How do I obtain an Order of Protection?
To obtain an Order of Protection in the Town of Tonawanda Justice Court, you must sign a complaint charging another party with a crime. When you sign the complaint in the Detective Bureau you should make your request known to the detective so the family protection registry form (TTP168) can be filled out ahead of time, and accompany your complaint to court.

Once your complaint reaches court the judge will preview the complaint you signed, a criminal summons will be served on the defendant and the judge will then issue a temporary order of protection, until further action in court.

For an Order of Protection through Erie County Family Court, please call (716) 858-8234 Monday through Friday, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

How do i know if an Order Of Protection was served?
As an alternative to calling the Town of Tonawanda Justice Court or The Town of Tonawanda Police Department , you can go to the following NYS site

This system is a service available to victims, or their designees, who have been granted certain Court Orders of Protection. It allows victims the option of registering to be notified when an Order of Protection has been served.

Do not depend solely on this notification for your protection. If you are at risk, seek help and take appropriate precautions.

This program is part of the SAVIN-NY initiative funded by the Bureau of Justice Administration (BJA) and coordinated by the NYS Sheriffs' Institute.


Can I park a trailer, house trailer or boat in the street?
The answer is yes, but it is very limited based on the over all length of the combined trailer and vehicle together. The combination of both vehicles together must not exceed 21' 10". This is the exact Town Code pertaining to this topic: Due to safety reasons involving obstructed vision pertaining to pedestrians, children, emergency vehicles and other motorists, no vehicle or transport device longer than 21 feet 10 inches, inclusive of load and bumper (even if not attached), nor wider than seven feet 10 inches, as measured by the body, nor higher than seven feet two inches, as measured from the underside of the tire to the top of the vehicle, shall park upon any street within any residential district in the Town of Tonawanda. This provision is applicable, but not limited to, boats and/or jet skis with trailers, recreational campers, vehicle transport carriers or trailers.
Can I put a dumpster in the street?
No, dumpsters can not be placed in the street in the Town of Tonawanda.
Can I park my car on the lawn?
No, cars can not be parked on your lawn in the Town of Tonawanda.
Can I park in front of my own driveway?
No, you can not park in front of your own driveway.
How do I obtain a peddlers permit?
Peddlers permits are only valid for the named individuals, not multiple parties or companies. Applications are available at the front desk of the Police Department or you can Download it here and fill out to bring in. Once completed and submitted with the proper fee and two proofs of ID (one being with a picture), they are processed and either approved or disapproved.

Permits must be picked up in person and are issued at that time. Each permit is good for a period of 30 days from date of issuance.

Can I get criminal records on the internet?
No. Criminal records are not available through the internet, nor are they a matter of public record. Very stringent rules are in effect even for police officers and investigators pursuing this type of information in regard to ongoing investigations.
How do I get an arrest record check or a summary of a police report?
Request forms are available at the front desk of the Police Department. Forms need to be completed and submitted with the proper fee and two proofs of ID, one being a picture ID. The record check or summary will be processed within five business days and mailed to the requesting party, unless otherwise requested.

You may download the form now and have it ready for the desk officer when you arrive at the police station.


If my child is under four years old but over 40 pounds does he/she still have to be in a safety seat?

Yes. The law only refers to age.
Anything court related to fines, you should contact court directly at 716-876-5536 as fines and surcharges are subject to change
I got a ticket, now what do I do?
If you wish to plead guilty to a traffic violation by mail, date and sign Part A of your summons and remit it to the Court before the court date which is printed on the front of your summons. Upon receipt, the Court will notify you in writing of the fine due.

For most minor traffic infractions, you may pay a set fine by appearing in person at the cafeteria court window during regularly scheduled hours. Be sure you have your conviction stub with you. It may be helpful to call the Court to verify that there is a set fine for your particular infraction. Please note that the Town of Tonawanda Court will only accept cash, money orders or certified checks.

If you wish to plead not guilty by mail, you must date and sign Part B of the summons. Upon receipt of your not guilty plea, the Court will notify you in writing of your court date for arraignment.

If you do not want to enter a plea by mail, you should appear in Court on the date listed on the bottom of your summons. Upon arrival in the Court there are lists posted in the hallway. Locate your name on the list and follow the directions on the top of the sheet. If you have any questions go to the cafeteria court window, where a clerk will assist you.

How do I get my defect inspected and verified for court?
The inspection and completion of a defect correction form must be done by a police officer or an authorized inspection station. A statement of correction may be completed by an automobile repair shop and the statement must be on the letterhead of the shop.
Is an inspection violation a moving violation?
No, an inspection violation is not a moving violation.
Anything court related to fines, you should contact court directly at 716-876-5536 as fines and surcharges are subject to change
How many points will I get for a speeding ticket?
The amount of mph below is the amount over the posted speed limit:
  • 1-10 mph: three points
  • 11-20 mph: four points
  • 21-30 mph: six points
  • 31-40 mph: eight points
  • Over 40 mph: 11 points
How much will the fine be?
The fine will be between $30 and $400 plus a surcharge of $25.
Are studded snow tires legal in New York State?
Studded snow tires are only legal between October 16 and April 30.
Where can I get studded snow tires?
Studded snow tires can be purchased at a tire dealership.
Can I tow a car with a rope?
A car can be towed with a rope only if the towed vehicle is occupied by a licensed driver to control steering.
If I buy a car, how do I get it home without plates?
You must tow the car home until you get plates.
How do I get my trailer to a weigh station (for the registration application) if it isn't registered?
The law allows you to tow a trailer to and from a weigh station only for the purpose of determining weight for registration.
When does the winter parking ban go into effect?
The standing or parking of vehicles is hereby prohibited on all streets and highways within the Town of Tonawanda between the hours of 2:00 am and 6:00 am, beginning November 1 of each year and ending April 1 of the next succeeding year.

Take Note - All completed applications must be submitted to the Town of Tonawanda Clerk’s Office.   The Town Police Department cannot accept any completed applications.

Click here for 4 PDF documents you will need

Vacation House Checks are a service provided by the Town of Tonawanda Police for residents who are away from home for vacation. After filling out the required paperwork, an officer will check the premise at random times and contact you or your emergency contact person to report anything out of the ordinary.

This service is not provided for homes that are for sale or vacant.

Click here to fill out the form which we will enter into our system

You can also request a house check by calling 879-6613, or in person at The Town of Tonawanda Police Department located at 1835 Sheridan Drive. We will be happy to assist you. We are open 24 hours a day for this service.


Don't Be Victimized with Phone Scams, Be Aware
Listed in this section are important websites to the Government agencies that are being fraudulently represented in collecting a debt from you. These agencies do not call people to collect debts. Please refer to these important links for information to be informed of their tactics to get your information. If you did give any information to a suspected fraudulent caller, you can contact your local police department. If you did not give any information, the sites have instructions for you to report the incident to them.

New York State Tax

Better Business Bureau

United States IRS 

IRS Impersonating Scam Form

Federal Trade Commission

concerned parents support group

The Concerned Parents Support Group is resuming on Thursday February 17 2022.  

Sponsored by the Town of Tonawanda Police Department, the Concerned Parents Support Group meets every Thursday at 7:00 pm in the Lincoln Park Satellite Office to provide support and advice for helping a teen or adult child in crisis.

For more information contact:


 WNY Still Standing is a Facebook group for parents and family members whose loved ones are in Active Addiction or Early Recovery. Some are bereaved parents. For more information, support, advocacy and awareness, please follow this link:

 Click here for program specifics to download and print

Do you own a business in the Town of Tonawanda? If you would like us to have your contact information in the case of after-hour emergencies on your property; we have a form that can completed online which our Public Safety Communication Center receives and enters into our dispatch system. It is the most efficient way of getting us your key-holders and other info you supply.




BE-SAFE Victim Advocacy Program

The BE-SAFE Program, led by Heather Summers, Director of Domestic Violence Services, is located at Buffalo City Court, Erie County District Attorney’s Office, 50 Delaware Avenue, 4th Floor, Buffalo, New York 14202. Staff can also be reached by telephone at (716) 858-4630, 8:30-5:00pm, M-F. Should you receive a notice of a court date, please call one of the advocates there.

BE SAFE provides free community outreach & training for professionals, law enforcement, Judges, and community members on a variety of topics related to Domestic Violence.

If you are involved in the Criminal Justice system, we understand that you may not be ready to proceed with criminal charges and can help explain options to maintain your safety. Advocates will assist you throughout each stage of your case, from Arraignment, Grand Jury or trial.

A SAFETY PLAN  is a tool which enables victims of domestic abuse to assess their options and reduce their risk of further abuse. Leaving an abusive relationship is something that needs planning and can increase your risk. Should you feel unsafe at any time or want to discuss a safety plan please contact the advocates for assistance.

Erie County BE SAFE Brochure and Safety Plan

You should have enough supplies in your disaster kit to ensure each member of your family can be self-sufficient for at least 3 days. Some things to include are:

• water (1 gallon per day per person)

• food (nonperishable and easy to prepare)

• can opener

• first-aid kit

• flashlights

• extra batteries

• medicines and medical items

• a multipurpose tool to turn off utilities

• sanitation and hygiene items

• copies of personal documents

• blankets/sleeping bags

• extra cash, credit card, and/or cashier’s check

• list of important numbers

• a whistle to signal for help

• dust masks

• local maps

• battery-powered or hand crank radio

You can find out more through FEMAs Ready Campaign at:


  • Preparedness for Businesses

  • 511NY – Traffic, travel, and transit information

  • NOAA Flood Levels

  • Active Shooter Preparedness

Be prepared and download the FEMA app for free on the App Store and Google Play.

Learn what to do before, during, and after emergencies with safety tips & receive weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations anywhere in the United States.

U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), administers a Victim Notification Program. This program allows eligible victims and witnesses to obtain reliable and timely information regarding a criminal alien's release from custody.  Victims and witnesses are required to register with HSI in order to receive notification of a criminal alien's release.

Listed below is a universal resource locator for the HSI Victim Notification Program. A victim or witness can simply click on the hyperlink and be transferred to a number of valuable victim services programs provided by ICE. 

Click to go to the DHS website


The Sex Offender Registration Act requires the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) to maintain a Sex Offender Registry. Sex offenders are classified according to their risk of re-offending: low-risk (Level 1), moderate risk (Level 2) and high-risk (Level 3). The Act requires that DCJS also maintain a public Sub-directory on the internet which only includes Level 2 and 3 offenders. 

DCJS attempts to ensure that the information in the Sub-directory is accurate and complete. However, the information on the Sub-directory is reported to DCJS by other sources. As a result, DCJS makes no express or implied guarantee concerning the accuracy or completeness of this data.

The information in this Sub-directory must be used responsibly. Anyone who uses this information to harass or commit a criminal act against any person may be subject to criminal prosecution.

You may search the public Sub-directory website here. (opens in a new window)


Going Door to Door? Check here for information regarding these permits and when needed.

The Town of Tonawanda Code can be located at this link

To download the needed form for a permit, please follow this link for the PDF to print


If your phone is stolen, follow the steps in the link below

What to do if your phone is stolen

The new “Ready Erie” app is available for free and is designed for the iPhone, iPad, android and iOS systems. The multi-purpose app will allow users to receive critical information and emergency alerts through push notifications, locate Erie County’s emergency shelters, view up-to-date evacuation route maps, and create a personalized Emergency Preparedness Plan by answering five basic questions.Among the Ready Erie app’s other features are the ability to share your status with selected contacts on your device and get the latest news and weather for Erie County. Users who create a personalized Emergency Management Plan will be able to store the Plan on their device to share with family and friends. Every individual’s Plan will include and Emergency Supply kit Checklist tailored to their needs; a Customized Emergency Food Supply Shopping List; an Emergency Communications Plan to notify loved ones of the individual’s status; and information to prepare your home for impending disaster. The app also provides an opportunity to learn about the various emergency situations that Erie County residents are most likely to face in five integrated eGuides.

“The Ready Erie app takes emergency planning and preparedness to the next level and will give users the information they need at the time they need it, helping them and their loved ones to respond to emergencies in a safe and organized manner,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “With this app we can communicate directly with our constituents, individuals can have access to critical alerts and updates to coordinate planning with family or co-workers, and stay on top of changing conditions. The app also has useful information on ways to prepare before disaster strikes, helping to mitigate damage and protect lives.

To download please follow this link:

Special Needs Registry Form

Everybody Has Needs - Do the Right People Know What Yours Are? 

If you or someone in your household has a disability or a special medical need, the people whose job it is to respond when you call for help in an emergency need to know. Whether it affects your entire community, your street or just your home, seconds can make a life-or-death difference. Having specific details about your special situation will significantly help us help you.

Please fill out the online form to provide the Police Department 

Alternatively you can download the documents to fill out and send in to our Police Department

PDF Download Here

Microsoft Word DOC Download Here

What to Do and Expect When Pulled Over by Police (Revised January 2021)
Police officers are responsible for conducting traffic stops when they have reasonable suspicion of a traffic violation or a
criminal violation. Being stopped by an officer can be a stressful experience for the driver, any passengers, and for the
officer, too. Knowing what to do during the stop will help ensure your safety and the safety of others.
When you see emergency lights behind you, it is important for you and your passengers to stay calm and cooperate.
Remember to:
• Activate your turn signal and pull off or to the side of the roadway as soon as it is safe to do so.
• Turn off the engine and any audio devices.
• Stay in your vehicle unless directed by the officer to exit.
• Turn on your interior lights if you are pulled over at night to assist with visibility. Officers may use a spotlight for
additional visibility.
• Keep your hands on the steering wheel or in a visible location so they are easily observable.
• Follow all instructions the officer gives you or your passengers.
The officer may approach either side of the vehicle. When the officer approaches the vehicle, remember to:
• Lower the corresponding window so you and the officer can better communicate.
• Let the officer know if you have a weapon in the vehicle upon first contact.
• Wait for the officer’s instructions before reaching for your driver’s license or vehicle documents.
When conducting the stop, the officer will typically:
• Show their law enforcement credentials if they are not in uniform. If they do not show their credentials, you may
ask to see them.
• Explain why you were stopped/ask questions about your trip.
• Ask for your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration. If the documents are out of your reach,
tell the officer where they are and wait for the officer’s acknowledgement before reaching to retrieve the
In some cases, the officer may:
• Ask you to exit the vehicle. In this case, keep your hands visible, exit the vehicle, and stand in a location as
directed by the officer.
• Impose a sanction such a warning, traffic ticket which may include a fine, or arrest. The officer will typically
explain whatever action is being taken. If they do not, you may ask them to do so.
If you have questions, respectfully ask the officer to clarify. If you disagree with the officer’s decision or course of action,
do not prolong the contact by arguing with the officer. Rather, you may seek to contest the decision in court through
established legal channels.
Your acceptance and signature on a traffic ticket is not an admission of guilt. However, the refusal to sign a traffic ticket may result in your arrest.
If you believe the officer acted inappropriately or have questions regarding their conduct you may request to speak to a
supervisor. This is best done as soon as possible after the stop.
Following these procedures can help make a traffic stop a safe experience for all parties involved.
This guidance was approved by the AAMVA Driver and Law Enforcement Standing Committees, by the International
Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.