North Carolina’s Division of Motor Vehicles has revised its guidelines for the procedures a citizen must follow when being pulled over by a cop.
New student drivers will learn what to do in driver’s education.
“In the new paperwork, it says if a law enforcement officer is basically enforcing a stop, to turn the lights on,” said Ed Peters, a Town of Elon police officer. “Turn your four-ways on, and try to choose a well-lit place to pull over...so that we know that you understand you’re being stopped — that there’s going to be traffic enforcement being taken and you’re aware of that.”
Another notable change tells students to keep their hands on the steering wheel when being pulled over.
Peters said police officers get apprehensive when drivers or passengers make sudden movements, especially at nighttime when it is easier to conceal a weapon. Keeping one’s hands on the steering wheel keeps both parties safe – police have less fear of any sort of fatal situation when they know the traffic offender isn’t reaching for something.
“Ninety-nine percent of the people are law-abiding citizens, but it’s the one percent that can be hazardous to our safety and to the general public’s safety,” Peters said.
That being said, he believes the news media has blown some instances of police brutality out of proportion and that the new guideline are mostly meant for younger drivers who might not know how to react when the blue lights start flashing.
Eddie Caldwell, the executive vice president and general counsel of the sheriff’s association, also commented on the ultimate objective of the revision.
“We wanted to be as simplistic as possible because we knew that drivers would not be reading the handbook in the middle of the traffic stop,” Caldwell said. “So the idea is you would read it, and it would be instruction that was relatively commonsensical and easy to remember.”
Sophomore Fritz Savoury said that while it would have been nice to learn these guidelines in driver’s education, “Coming from a black family, I was always taught these types of things, to know if a cop pulls you over, how to react and what to do in that situation to guarantee your life, I guess.”
Savoury finds the revision necessary because of the numerous instances of death associated with police encounters.
According to The Washington Post, more than 100 individuals were killed during traffic stops in 2015.
“I sympathize with cops who put their lives on the line every day, but at the same time, there are countless people who are dying because of police brutality,” Savoury said. “It’s hard to figure out how to solve this problem where people are putting lives on the line to protect people, but at the same time, killing the same people they’re sworn to protect. It’s a very gray area.”
Peters believes it’s important to remember that police are as human as anyone else – they might get scared, but they ultimately want to do their job well.
“Society definitely has changed in the way police are looked at, in the way the whole country has developed as far as their thoughts on police and stuff,” Peters said. “We’re here just to do our job...we want to treat everybody with respect also. We’re not out there to try and be the bad guys; we’re just trying to do our job and go home like everybody else.”