SALINE CO., Ark. (KTHV) - Philando Castile told an officer in St. Paul, Minnesota, his weapon was in the car, but when he started to move the officer fired multiple shots. Castile, who was licensed to carry a weapon, died from the shooting in July of 2016. This situation could potentially happen anywhere.
The Saline County Sheriff's Office (SCSO) is being pro-active by making educational Facebook videos in hopes they will prevent something bad from happening during traffic stops. When we see those flashing lights, many of us get nervous. However, lately police have been just as nervous to approach.
“It's hard not to with what you see across the country,” said Rodney Wright, SCSO Sheriff.
To avoid repeating history in Arkansas, SCSO made videos to demonstrate ways to keep both the officer and the driver safe.
“We like for the driver to put it in park before we actually exit the vehicle,” said Sgt. Aaron Washington. “We'd like for the driver to keep their hands on the steering wheel.”
Sheriff Wright said the tips given in the videos are not laws, just safe suggestions. The videos emphasize drivers stay still when the officer approaches to minimize any issues during the traffic stop.
“We generally like for them to ask us ‘My driver's license is in my purse, can I reach over and get it,'' Washington said. "That lets us know they are reaching for their driver's license, instead of making a quick movement."
One of the videos specifically touches on pulling people over who have a legal, licensed firearm in the car.
“Without them taking their hands off the steering wheel and reaching for it, we generally like for them to say it's in the glove box, or it’s underneath the seat, or it's right there beside them,” said Washington.
Officers intentionally stand just behind the driver's window. Sheriff Wright said no traffic stop is actually ever ‘routine.’
“If they proceeded to draw a weapon, I could step back and proceed to draw my weapon as well and get cover,” said Washington.
These videos are informative for all ages, not just new drivers. Police said that a 55-year-old could learn just as much watching these videos as a 16-year-old would.
There are two videos on the SCSO Facebook page The other one explains safe practices for a traffic stop without a weapon in the car. Both videos have been shared over 1,000 times, and have more than 50,000 views.