Traffic stops are one of the most frequent forms of interaction between law enforcement officers and civilians. The traffic stop has been referred to as a "routine traffic stop" when it is not a known felonious traffic stop; however, routine would imply that there is a predictable, unchanging, and safe standard that could be systematically applied to every stop. Traffic stops may present many unforeseen dangers, highlighting the importance of thorough training. Ninety-four officer volunteers completed a traffic stop training simulation included in this archival study. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the initial response, as well as the behavioral patterns exhibited by an officer when a gun is drawn on him or her in a traffic stop situation. Results indicate that officers tend to respond to an unanticipated weapon stimulus with hesitation. The behavioral patterns exhibited, even if the response was immediate, tend to thwart the officer's ability to obtain a successful outcome. Further behavioral pattern details are explored in addition to the successful outcome repertoire.


Daniel D. Houlihan

First Committee Member

Colleen M. Clarke

Second Committee Member

Jeffrey A. Buchanan

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)




Social and Behavioral Sciences

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License



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