by Dale Chappell
Any proactive measure to cut down on cops shooting motorists is a good step in the right direction. At first glance, what the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (“MDPS”) is doing sounds like a great idea. They’re handing out pouches that motorists can use to store their insurance papers and other items the police typically ask for during a traffic stop that can be kept in plain sight, so it doesn’t look like they’re reaching for a weapon. But some say this implies that police departments know there are dangerous cops on the streets pulling people over, and they’re not doing anything about it.
The pouch was designed by Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile, after he was killed by a Minnesota cop during a traffic stop. It’s called the “Not-Reaching Pouch,” and it’s designed to be hung in the vehicle in plain sight so a nervous cop doesn’t mistake any reaching as being done to grab a weapon and start firing his own weapon. The pouch isn’t a new concept, as a mother in Virginia whose son was killed in a traffic stop initially came up with the idea.
A statement by the MDPS shows their lack of awareness of the problem: “We are continually looking for ways to reduce deadly encounters as these instances can be catastrophic for police officers, and community members,” it says. “We are hoping these pouches help in some way reduce these instances, even if it’s just one.”
The statement seems to suggest that deadly force is inherent to any “encounter” with a police officer in Minnesota. It also seems to exonerate officers by referring to the killing of innocent drivers as “deadly force encounters,” understating the severity of the actions by the officers. The MDPS statement fails to acknowledge that there’s any responsibility on the part of the officer to know when to use deadly force, an increasingly common problem these days.
The decision to hand out these pouches to the public seems to be an implicit admission by MDPS that there’s something wrong with its police force killing innocent drivers. By handing out the pouches, it is saying that its police officers cannot be trusted to remain calm and non-violent during traffic stops without the assistance of the public they are interacting with. It’s sad that someone had to come up with this idea to stop senseless killings by cops, since the police departments themselves won’t take steps to do so.
As a digital subscriber to Criminal Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.
Already a subscriber? Login