‘What to do if stopped by blue’ legislation introduced in Senate

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LANSING, Mich. — A bipartisan effort aimed at facilitating positive interactions between law enforcement officers and civilians during a traffic stop was recently introduced in the state Senate.

Sen. Marty Knollenberg, who sponsored part of the three-bill package, says the ultimate goal is to standardize interaction between police officers, drivers and passengers during traffic stops and make an unpleasant situation safer and less stressful for all involved parties.

“Traffic stops are stressful for drivers of all levels, but even more so for inexperienced drivers,” said Knollenberg. “A consistent curriculum including instructions for expected behavior during a traffic stop can help reduce the anxiety level for both drivers and police as well as lessen the risk of minor misunderstandings become something more serious.”

Senate Bills 805-807 would direct the secretary of state and Michigan State Police to develop a program on how to interact with law enforcement during a traffic stop. The guidelines would be included in current driver’s education curriculums so students are familiar with what to do before getting behind the wheel.

“It is long overdue for lawmakers to sit down together with the people of the communities they serve and restore confidence between drivers and law enforcement,” said Sen. Vincent Gregory, D-Lathrup Village, sponsor of SB 806.

The bills also instruct the secretary of state to provide a pamphlet that includes a summary of the developed material to drivers 25 and under who are renewing their license. Additionally, officers involved in a traffic stop must provide drivers with a business card that contains contact information where drivers can direct complaints.

The measure was inspired by a similar bipartisan effort that was adopted last year in Virginia.

“Neither drivers nor the police should be fearful during a traffic stop,” Knollenberg said. “I believe these training measures will make all drivers more comfortable and thus put officers at ease. This is a win for all involved parties.”

Sen. Margaret O’Brien agreed and says this measure will improve relations between members of the law enforcement community and their respective communities.

“As the mother of young drivers, I want my kids to be prepared for every situation,” O’Brien said. “I’m pleased to partner with law enforcement to ensure safe interactions in what can be a stressful situation.”

The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Transportation for further consideration.