Armed citizens and traffic stops: How to react - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Armed citizens and traffic stops: How to react

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Do you think you should tell a police officer you're legally armed during a traffic stop?

We are are searching for answers after the several officer-involved shootings - more specifically, a deadly traffic stop in Minnesota.

Last month, the entire Waterloo Police Department had specific training how to deal with armed citizens.

Since everyone reacts differently during at traffic stop, here's what police learned and what they recommend.

Most drivers have been there.

Whether you're late for work or maybe forgot to renew your registration, you know what it's like to be stopped by police.

But, if you're like many Americans with a legal weapon in your car or on your person, what's the right way to react?

Waterloo Police Chief Dan Trelka explains what officers learned during training last month.

"If you have a permit to carry, and you have a weapon in that car, it would be great, appropriate, and sensible if you let that officer know," Chief Trelka said.

But, Chief Trelka said letting police know about your weapon is only part of it.

"A mistake some people will make: they'll tell the officer that, and as soon as they say that, they star reaching for the glove box. Bad move! Just, don't reach for anything," Chief Trelka said.

So, what happens if you're driving someone else's car?

Even if you have your driver's license and hope the vehicle is properly insured and registered, Chief Trelka says the best thing to do is keep your hands on the steering wheel instead of looking for those items right away.

"The best thing to do when you get stopped, under any circumstances, is to keep your hands on the steering the wheel, visible, and be respectful to the officer. They will be respectful to you. If you amp it up, they're going to amp it up," Trelka said.

A firearms expert says citizens are not legally obligated to let police know about personal guns in their vehicle right away.

But, they recommend being honest with police, and they agree that keeping your hands on the steering wheel is the best way to avoid confusion.

Chief Trelka said technology in cruisers helps them access whether the vehicle owner has a conceal-carry permit during a traffic stop.

He says it's up to the officer to ask whether there's a weapon in the vehicle or on their person.

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