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Protecting CHP officers, what protocols are in place?

Posted at 5:24 PM, Aug 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-14 21:27:27-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - One CHP officer is dead, two were injured in a shootout in Riverside Monday and one CHP officer was injured in El Cajon by a hit-and-run drunk driver Tuesday night. CHP is now examining their protocols, seeing if there are lessons to be learned from Riverside.

10News spoke with a veteran CHP officer to find out what protocol is in place to protect officers.

Veteran CHP officer Phil Konstantin dedicated a decade to the force and has many stories to tell. "Crashed into by vehicles, I've had to jump out of the way of vehicles, and I've been shot at," he said.

Around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night a CHP officer was trying to remove debris from the 94 freeway when officers say a man drove into the center divide multiple times. The officer tried to wave the man down and was hit. The man drove away and was stopped a short time later.

He was driving 13 mph in the shoulder with his hood obscuring the windshield. Our 10News Breaking News Tracker recorded the driver stumbling during his field sobriety test. The man was arrested for DUI.

His girlfriend drove to the scene and was also arrested for DUI.

Konstantin says a traffic stop is one of the most dangerous parts of their job.

He said when they pull a car over, officers turn their wheels away from the shoulder so if their car is hit, it rolls into traffic instead of into the car the officer pulled over or the officer. He also said he kept a vigilant eye on the people in the car and on traffic.

"All of the sudden if I lose sight of you and you're jumping into the car very quickly, are you going for a gun like with what happened in Riverside?" He said being vigilant will save your life.

In 1987 Konstantin's training was put to the test. "As soon as the car stopped moving someone got out of the passenger side and shot at us.'' He and his partner were working the graveyard shift and pulled over what they thought was a drunk driver. It turned out being a pair who had kidnapped a restaurant owner they robbed and they were trying to go to the man's home to ransack it.

"The guy aims at the car in general and then at someone who would've been standing by the driver's side door. Has I been standing at the driver's side door, I would've been hit by buckshot," he said staying in the car and ducking saved his life.

He said any driver can help an officer by keeping their hands on the wheel, listening to an officer's directions, and telling an officer if they need to reach somewhere to get their license, so they don't think you will harm them.