Formal "Blue Light" Protocol for motorists developed by JPSA and RTMC

03 November 2013 | Road Safety Highlights


Multiple and ongoing reports of disastrous consequences arising out of people either fleeing legitimate police or stopping for “blue light gangs” have been forthcoming for a significant period of time, the most recent of which was the case of Khuli Chana where his alleged behaviour was totally inappropriate and led to a horrible incident occurring.
 
South African law with respect to stopping for police and/or traffic officials is very clear and it is a criminal offence to fail to stop for them.  Unfortunately however, with the ready availability of police uniforms, blue lights and even marked bogus police vehicles it is unrealistic to expect members of the public to expose themselves to criminal activities which could result in them being hijacked or exposed to other serious violent crimes.
 
In response to a Carte Blanche expose called “Cop Jackers” which aired on Sunday 13 October 2013, National Commissioner of Police, Ria Piyega announced that a dedicated unit had been established to investigate “blue light crimes” and that the unit is currently investigating 250 complaints.
 
Over the years, several spokespersons for the South African Police Service have made public announcements on how members of the public should react when they feel uncomfortable about vehicles donning blue lights following them and instructing them to pull over.  Unfortunately however, these statements have been sketchy and have additionally been misinterpreted by many members of the public who then find themselves in hot water due to not following correct procedures.
 
For this reason, Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) and the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) have jointly developed a protocol for both, members of the public and law enforcement officials to follow.  This procedure is being communicated by the RTMC to all law enforcement agencies; including the South African Police Service as well as all traffic authorities in South Africa so that everyone concerned is on the same page and knows exactly how to deal with such situations.
 
The protocol is attached to this media release and will be published on the RTMC’s (www.rtmc.co.za) and JPSA’s (www.jp-sa.org) websites shortly.  Anyone who wishes to share this protocol on their own website or in their publication is encouraged to do so, provided that no adjustments are made to the protocol.
 
Disclaimer: This protocol is released as is – in the public interest and neither JPSA nor the RTMC can accept any liability whatsoever for any deviation from it by any person.
 
Media enquiries may be directed to:
Gilberto Martins – Acting CEO of the RTMC – 083 387 4436 – gilbertom@rtmc.co.za
Howard Dembovsky – Chairperson of JPSA
 

Combating of Blue Light Gangs Protocol

The law is clear.  It is an offence not to stop when instructed to do so by a police or traffic officer.  Unfortunately, criminals know this too and some have come to pose as police, using blue lights and other law enforcement equipment to commit crimes has escalated in South Africa. 

Despite the fact that this is nothing new and there are currently no less than 250 such matters under investigation; to date – no formal procedure has been published for members of the public and law enforcement officials alike to follow.

The time has now come to formalise a procedure and the Road Traffic Management Corporation and Justice Project South Africa have jointly developed the protocol described below to be followed by any person who feels uncomfortable with stopping for vehicles with flashing blue lights.  

Motorists are advised to study this advisory carefully and to commit the procedures to memory.  If you follow the instructions to a tee, there should be no reason for you to become endangered by either – legitimate or bogus police.

  • If you are followed by a vehicle – marked or not with blue flashing lights and it indicates for you to pull over, particularly at night – you would be wise not to do so if you feel uneasy or unsure that they are genuine police.  Instead, it may be wise for you to indicate that you wish to proceed to a police station or public place before stopping. 
  • However you must bear in mind that not stopping for genuine police can immediately escalate the situation and may endanger you further if you do not take extreme care to abide by ALL OF the rules laid down here:
    • When indicating to the occupant/s of the vehicle following you that you wish to have them follow you to a place of safety:
      • STAY CALM!
      • Slow right down and turn your hazard lights on and then –
        • Extend your right arm out of the window and with an tightly outspread hand extended into the air with your forearm at 90  degrees from your shoulder;
        • Gesture for them to follow you by moving your forearm forward and back to the upright, and repeat this action several times as per the following diagram.
        • Follow Me
      • Drive at NO MORE THAN 40km/h and proceed DIRECTLY to the CLOSEST Police station or public place with CCTV cameras in operation; like a service station forecourt.
      • DO NOT drive to your own, or a friend of yours’ home as this may endanger you and your loved ones if those following you are not genuine police.
      • If you have a cell phone with you, call 10111 and tell them that you are being followed and are proceeding to the closest police station or public place.
      • If you are not sure where the closest police station is, you can ask the 10111 operator.
      • If possible, provide the registration number of the vehicle that is following you so it may be established if it is a legitimate police vehicle or not.
      • If you go to a police station, when you get there and if there are no police personnel in sight outside, hoot for as long as it takes for someone to come out.
        • Remain in your vehicle with the engine running, in gear and your windows wound up until such time as police from the station come out to you.
        • Cooperate fully with police personnel from that police station and the officers from the vehicle that followed you and explain immediately that you felt intimidated and therefore proceeded directly to the police station.
      • If you go to a service station, drive onto the forecourt (centre of the service station) where the pumps or the convenience shop are so you will be in full view of the cameras.
        • Cooperate fully with the officers from the vehicle that followed you and explain immediately that you felt intimidated and therefore proceeded directly to the service station.
      • No matter what, if you are shouted at, do not respond by shouting back.  Also be careful not to respond to any potentially violent acts by resisting in any way or becoming violent yourself.  Remain calm and respectful and explain that the reason you did not stop immediately was because you were not comfortable that they were genuine police.
  • There is a massive difference between evading, or fleeing from police and having them follow you to a place of safety.
  • Both, members of the public and genuine police should feel comfortable with this protocol, since it offers protection from attack in an isolated place by moving the stop to a public place where witnesses and assistance should be around.
  • WARNING: If you follow ALL of these steps precisely and the people pursuing you start shooting at you, do everything that you can to evade them and get away without endangering yourself and others.  Phone police immediately. 
Disclaimer: This protocol is released as is – in the public interest and neither JPSA nor the RTMC can accept any liability whatsoever for any deviation from it by any person.

 

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