On this page, we'll answer some common questions and give you advice for responding to certain situations.  Please feel free to let us know of other issues you'd like addressed.
What do I do if:
I'm driving and see an emergency vehicle approaching?   As soon as possible, you will want to pull to the right and stop.  Whether you see an ambulance, fire truck, volunteer fireman, or police car, the rules are the same.  And, you must do the same whether the vehicle is coming from your front, or from behind you - pull to the right and stop.  This will allow the public safety personnel to get to where they need to be as quickly and safely as possible - which is what you'd want if it was your loved one that needed their assistance.
I'm stopped by a police officer?    This, and related questions (why did that officer stop me?) is the most commonly asked question of our department.   Let's address this one, first. 

1.  When you see the blue lights turn on and/or hear the siren, it is important to slow down, pull to the right side of the road, and stop.  This applies whether or not you think you committed a violation.  Remember, he/she could just be trying to get to another call (see above).

2.  Remain calm.  It is common to be confused, angry, embarrassed, or anxious about being stopped, these are quite natural feelings.  However, a calm and courteous attitude will go a long ways towards overcoming these feelings.

3.  Do not exit your vehicle, unless directed to by the officer.  This is for your safety (you might step into traffic) and the officers' safety.  Each year, dozens of officers are killed or injured during "routine" traffic stops.

4.  Keep your hands on the steering wheel and inform the officer of any weapons in the vehicle.  Do not reach for them.  Likewise, don't make sudden movements or reach under the seat.

5.  Comply with the officer's request for driver's license, insurance information, and vehicle registration.  State law requires that these be present in the vehicle at all times.  It's always a good idea to have them readily available so that you don't have to fumble through purses, glove boxes, envelopes, etc. looking for the most current copies.  Throw out old copies and keep current copies in a specific place for easy access.

6.  Avoid being argumentative.  Arguing will not change the officer's mind.  If you are cited and do not agree with the citation, you will have the opportunity to challenge it in court.

7.  Answer all questions truthfully and remain polite and courteous.

8.  Upon completion of the stop, if you are unclear as to the reason for the stop, or the reason for a citation, politely ask the officer to explain. If you are still unclear, please check with a supervisor or the Chief for further explanation.

Oftentimes, when a driver sees the blue lights in their rearview mirror, their first thought is "I've done nothing, why is that officer stopping me?"  There are many reason for an officer to stop a vehicle and the driver may not be aware of that cause until after the officer makes the stop, collects information (like a driver's license), and explains.  Some of the most common reasons for a stop, include:

1.  You may have committed a traffic violation or have an equipment problem.  This may be something of which you are unaware until being told.  For example, when was the last time you checked to see if your tail lights are working?  At night, a blown fuse on the tail lights could very well cause a very dangerous situation.

2.  Your vehicle may match the description of a vehicle use in a criminal act.

3.  The officer may believe you are in trouble or in need of help.

4.   The officer may be investigating suspicious circumstances.  For example, you just left a business that has been closed for hours and has been the target of burglaries.  Odds are, you'll be stopped and asked to explain what is going on.  It may be entirely innocent, but the officer does not know that until making contact with you.
I have a complaint about an officer?  Or, I want that nice officer to know how much I appreciated what he did?   The Elgin Police Department wants to hear about any questions, comments, praises, or complaints you have about one of our officers. 

We work very hard to assure that only the finest individuals wear our uniform and regular feedback from the community is vital.  If you have a question or problem about what an officer did, or how an officer acted, please contact Chief Brown at 803-438-2362 or chief@elginpolice.org 

Please be prepared to provide the date, time, and location of the incident, officer(s)' name or unit number, specific information about the incident (was it a traffic stop?  he/she was at your house to take a report?, etc), and the concern you have about how it was handled.  Questions or concerns may be directed to any supervisor, but complaints must be made directly to the Chief of Police.  This assures immediate attention and investigation.  In the unlikely event that the Chief is not available, an initial discussion may be held with Lt Hines.

Conversely, if you have received excellent service from one of our officers, it is nice to know about that as well!  Again, please contact Chief Brown so appropriate recognition can be made.
This page was last updated on: January 18, 2013