Officers must plan for danger in "routine" stops

James Lockhart shot Officer Matthew Fox during a traffic stop Friday.

An Indiana police officer continues to recover from a shooting during what police say is one of the most dangerous things an officer does.

A car driving near Lawrence Friday night had a bad taillight and Fortville Officer Matthew Fox dried to stop it.

But Dr. Richard Weinblatt at Ivy Tech Community College says the phrase "routine traffic stop" is a "very dangerous phrase." Because danger could ride in any car.

Weinblatt, once a police chief, credits Officer Fox's training.

"This is a young officer. This was a fast-moving incident and the officer responded well," he said.

He points to the orders Fox shouted to driver James Lockhart to turn off his car and put his hands out the window when the suspect first pulled over for the officer.

"Those are all the standard commands that are part of our training," he said. "He reverted to his training even after he was shot. He says, 'Officer down, officer needs help'."

By getting a description of the shooter, he helped other officers find Lockhart, who was then killed in a gunfight.

The Fox shooting brings back the murder of IMPD Officer David Moore last year, also during what seemed like a "routine" traffic stop.

Weinblatt trained police officers in Florida and Ohio to imagine everything that could happen in a traffic stop.

"While you can't plan for every eventuality, you can at least start getting your mind prepared for different things that can happen," he said.

"This poor officer was behind the eight ball, not by his own doing, but because of how the shooting happened. Very fast," said security expert Alan Palagy.

Palagy, a member of International Association of Chiefs of Police, says training may not have helped prevent the actual shooting.

"When it happens that fast and someone puts the car up and they start shooting, you're in a different ballpark - a different game. You are in a do or die situation," he said.