“Why does more than one police officer show up on traffic stops? It made me feel like a criminal.”
Our goal is never to make somebody feel like a criminal: Our goal is to do everything we can to make sure that traffic enforcement is conducted as safely as possible for our officers and the public. It has long been standard procedure for our officers to back each other up on traffic stops after dark. Statistically, the danger to officers rises as the sun sets. That second officer represents an extra set of eyes and ears, and lets the primary officer focus more on interacting with the driver. The officer may need to explain the violation or enforcement action, or the driver may have questions or concerns. Nobody expects a traffic stop to be a pleasant event, but when the officer no longer has to divide attention between the motorist, traffic and pedestrians, the encounter will likely go more smoothly for everybody.
A good backup officer will likely sweep the inside of your car with a flashlight beam. Again, that officer is not trying to intimidate you, he is trying to insure the safety of the primary officer and the motorist, and can alert his partner to threats or concerns that may have been overlooked.
That backup officer is also scanning the area for potential threats and traffic concerns. On more than one occasion, an alert second officer has shouted a warning about a passing car veering too close and have pulled an officer or citizen out of harm’s way.