RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — One lawmaker is aiming to make drivers and police safer by requiring driver’s education classes to include lessons on how to interact with police at traffic stops.
Across the country, simple traffic stops have turned into tragedy. In Cincinnati, a former police officer was charged with murder after an interaction with an unarmed driver turned deadly when he pulled out his gun and fired, accusing the driver of trying to run him over.
“We just want to keep a simple situation from escalating to something that could be disastrous,” Delegate Jeion Ward said.
Ward has introduced a bill that would require driver’s ed students to learn how to interact with police officers when they’re pulled over.
“I just want to keep everyone calm and that we don’t take a simple traffic stop and that it becomes something bigger,” she said.
Ward says the bill is amed at making sure that everyone is on the same page. She says that while the bill is aimed at protecting all drivers, it could have a big impact on young African American drivers.
“The bill isn’t meant necessarily to target any one group of people but it certainly will have a great impact on the African American young driver,” Ward said.
Ward says the bill will not only protect drivers but police as well.
“It may be innocent behavior looking for a license or a registration. That officer though is concerned about whether or not they’re reaching for a weapon,” she said.
Dana Schrad of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police says if drivers know what to expect and what to do to make officers feel more comfortable, it will go a long way to keeping everyone safe.
“That de-escalates the situation between the officer and the driver almost automatically and makes for a safer interaction between the two,” she said.
The bill will be heard tomorrow in the House Education Subcommittee.