Traffic stops under heightened scrutiny following incidents in other states

Traffic stops under heightened scrutiny following incidents in other states

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Minnesota case of a man shot and killed by police comes just days after video was released of an Army Lieutenant in Virginia being stopped by police and pepper sprayed, and it adds fuel to the fire of increased scrutiny on traffic stops.

“The police should always be trusted but when we have these incidents, you know, the trust is eroded,” explained Master Sergeant Kervin Stewart. “And it just doesn’t help what we do because, I mean, if you can’t call the police who you can call?”

But Stewart says the one thing those incidents don’t do is change the way he does his job, and he hopes drivers don’t let it change how they feel.

“First thing is not to predetermine how the traffic stop is going to go. I don’t know what’s going to happen when I make contact with you,” said Stewart. “But when I do make contact with you, through my training, I’m going to treat you as nice as you allow me to treat you. And probably even nicer.”

But Stewart does see drivers more willing to try and assert their rights.

“There are people who will challenge you on the side of the roadway and it’s not the place to do that,” he noted. “I mean… that’s what the court system is for.”

We also spoke with ACLU of Mississippi’s legal Director Joshua Tom about that.

“Be calm,” explained Joshua Tom. “Follow all of the law-enforcement officers commands. Again, even if you think they are illegal because there’s a difference between what your rights are and then what you should do in any particular circumstance.”

In the event that you feel like something is off, ACLU has an app called Mobile Justice. Once you download and set it up, any recording of a police interaction you make will be sent straight to your local ACLU office.

“Police officers may not confiscate or demand to view your photographs or video on your phone without a warrant,” Tom noted.

“If there is a situation where an officer sees that you were recording, they try to take your phone, they try to delete your recording... it will have already been sent to us,” said ACLU of Mississippi Director of Communications Candace Coleman.

That Mobile Justice in the Apple app store or Google Play.

One thing the ACLU Legal Director did mention is the importance of keeping your hands visible during a traffic stop. So if you are recording, prop the phone in the dash or leave it recording in the cup holder rather than holding it.

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