A new bill introduced by Republican State Sen. Alexis Weik would require people applying for a driver’s license to complete an online course on how to interact with police officers if they are pulled over.
“If you're being pulled over by a police officer, you clearly did not follow a rule of the road or there's a matter that needed to be attended to, if you've got a taillight out or something like that,” Sen. Weik explained. “So therefore, for everyone's safety, if everyone knows what to expect, then everyone's going to feel a little more comfortable with the process, and they're going to be safer.”
The curriculum calls for drivers to avoid sudden movements, keep their hands in plain view of the officer and shut off the car’s engine and radio.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said that they are already teaching a similar curriculum to children with autism and a course like this could help keep both officers and drivers safe.
“I would support a bill like this, but to me it's a common sense thing,” Sherriff Apple said. “You should let the officer know 'hey, I'm safe too and I want to get through this okay. So my hands are on the wheel, the lights are on in the car, if the officer can see in the backseat, he can do everything that he's or she's taught to do as they're approaching the car.'”
However, Stanley Fritz with Citizen Action said he questions what this bill is truly trying to accomplish.
Fritz pointed to how hands outside the view of an officer has been used as a rationale during officer related shootings, particularly against people of color.
“So this is training on how to not get shot by police,” Fritz questioned. “Just because we have these conversations in Black communities, doesn't make it right. We're trying to survive. And the reason we're having those conversations are because cops keep killing people. So according to this bill's logic, if you do get shot by a cop, does that mean it was your fault because you know you couldn't keep your hands on the steering wheel?”
The bill is currently in the Transportation Committee in the Senate.